Product Review: Curriculum Associates – Ready- Common Core Practice- 7

Mar 19, 2013 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy

Every once in a while I am asked to review certain materials. Today, I am going to say a few words about Curriculum Associates “Ready- Common Core Practice”. I will review the Teacher Guide for Reading, The Teacher Resource Book for Reading and the Reading Common Core Instruction Book for Reading.

In the Ready Common Core Instructional Book, I find six units with sixteen lessons. They are divided up into Unit 1- Key Ideas and Details in Informational Text, then Unit 2- Key Ideas and Details in Literature, then Unit 3- Craft and Structure in Informational Text, and then Unit 4- Craft and Structure in Literature. Two other units, focusing on Integration of Knowledge and Ideas in Informational Text and then Integration of Knowledge and Ideas in Literature round out the text. After each unit, there is an interim Assessment.

In the actual text, there are self checks, pictures, and diagrammatic charts to help with the ideas. The book contains clear directions (which hopefully the children will read) to either circle or underline central ideas. There are sections for the student to write and explain their thinking- both individually and with a peer. Underlining and starring * are encouraged- so the student may learn some study skills or information processing tactics, techniques and strategies as they go along. Hints are also provided, and then, there is more than ample space for pupils to explain, and list central ideas and details. The authors sneak in some bubbles too, I guess prepare kids for the endless number of standardized tests they will have to take. After some reading samples, webs are provided, and again, ample space for students to write. It is hoped that teachers will encourage robust writing and responding, else the space is for naught. Bloom’s taxonomy is integrated into the text as readers are asked to summarize, and be objective about what they have read. I was pleasantly surprised to see the importance of background knowledge emphasized in this book. All too often, this is neglected by these various “ educational companies “, and the resultant inferential thinking is highlighted. The text also attempts to integrate history, and there is a clear balance between multiple choice questions and writing assignments to summarize and explain. Students are encouraged periodically to check their writing for spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation.

Interestingly the student is asked to “show their thinking “, similar to showing their work in math. There are a variety of stories to be read- from a variety of genres. And all of this is linked to the Common Core State Standards. Pictures are sequentially presented so that pupils can learn temporal thinking and sequencing. Again, more than ample space is provided so that students can attempt to write, write cogently and coherently. There are also pre-and post self-checks or assessments throughout the book. As I progressed through the book, I did see some terms that may not be familiar to a typical seventh grader-such as connotation, and “figurative language “.

The Teacher Resource Book for Reading ( Level 7 or Grade 7-it is not clear) attempts to support the implementation of the Common Core and provides helpful resources and web sites. The text helps to meaures growth, instruct, monitor progress and then differentiate instruction. There is apparently a Teacher toolbox which provides online instructional resources for grades 3-8. Now, having reviewed this Teacher Resource Book, I have to say that the first year of implementation is going to require teachers to set aside a few hours on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the implementation of this and to work their way through the various resources and to “ get a handle “ on what they are expected to do.

The Ready Common Core Reading Practice Review program contains three practice tests in which the student answers 50 multiple choice questions. They provide some tips for responding to multiple choice questions. There are some definitions provided (gluttonous—hungry for more) and older terms ( fortnight) are also explained.

Lastly, there is a small booklet explaining to the teacher how they should use the Common Core Practice and how to introduce the students to the Ready Common Core Practice. Correlational charts are provided and again, teachers are going to need to allocate some additional time to processing all of the information, and processes and procedures as well as record keeping that may need to be implemented during the school year.

There is a lot to digest in the material I have reviewed, but is it quality, and it does encourage some thinking and reflection. I have not examined the differentiation process in depth, and may want to do a separate review on this aspect. Further, teachers will have to spend some time going to the internet and accessing the Internet resources.

In summary, teacher, once they clearly understand the structure of this program, should be able to implement it with fidelity for most students in a few weeks. Hopefully teachers will be given some overview or training in the implementation of this program. I would say, however, that teacher success is going to be incumbent on the fidelity of implementation of this program by previous teachers and their adherence to the thinking processes, and writing demands of previous years. It is also hoped that administrators will take the time to review these materials so that they clearly understand what is involved. Time is the crucial factor and time will be needed for teachers to make their way through each unit and lesson so as to encourage the student at the correct time and in the correct places. I can see some students needing to be prompted and encouraged to elaborate and go into depth and detail in the Reading Instructional book.

I look forward to reviewing some sample Math Lessons in the near future.

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