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Peter Dewitz 1

Psy dewitz

Jan 24, 2015



Julie Wise

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Peter Dewitz


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RTI is built on the assumption that all students will receive high quality classroom instruction.

How do we define high quality instruction?

Is high quality instruction determined by the programs, the teacher, the administration, or the state curriculum?


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Reading instruction takes place within an instructional framework: A philosophy or belief about learning to read Sets of instructional and student activities

that seek to produce growth in reading Materials – what students read, how they

practice How time is organized over the day, the

week and the academic year Goals and how they are assessed


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The most common instructional frameworks in the United States are: Guided Reading/Balanced Literacy Reading-Writing Workshop Four-Blocks Success for All The Basal Reader The teacher made hybrid


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Define the instructional framework that underlies all basal readers; a framework that may have influence beyond those who use one.

Describe how basal readers are developed.

List the strengths and weaknesses of these programs.

Discuss 9 actions that teachers must make with a basal or any framework to create high quality instruction.


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How do we define and describe the instructional framework that underlie all basal programs?


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The word basal, as in basal reading program, means the base or a foundational tool. From that base all manner of activities can and should emerge.

The word core, as in core reading program, means the central or most essential part of reading instruction.

These are basal reading programs.7

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Necessity: This program is necessary for you and your students to succeed.

Sufficiency: Everything you need to succeed is contained within the program.

Warranty: All children will succeed with this program.


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An eclectic philosophy that merges principles of skill, literature-based, guided reading, and differentiated instruction. Reading is primarily skill development

A series of instructional routines the define teacher and student activities over a day, a week or unit (5 to 6 weeks).

The 5-day lesson plan is the most dominant characteristic of the program.

Authentic literature and control leveled / decodable texts

Overriding goal is to finish the program.9

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Unit Structure Overriding but vague theme leading to a project. 4 to 6 major reading selections very loosely tied

together with accompanying activities.▪ Each major reading selection has 4 leveled

texts plus decodable texts in K, 1 and 2 Specific scope and sequence of decoding,

vocabulary, comprehension and writing skills tied to the readings.

Review lessons and assessments at the end of each unit.


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Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5

Oral Language


Word Study







Intro SkillDevelopKnowledge

Read SelectionReview skills


Read Second Selection


Small Group Review SkillsRead Leveled Book

Review SkillsRead Leveled Book

Review SkillsRead Leveled Book

Review SkillsRead Leveled Book

Making Connections

Self-selected Reading

Language Arts

Writing PromptGrammar Spelling

Writing Craft


Writing Craft


Writing PromptGrammarSpelling



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We tend to view instruction in 5 day cycles with assessments on Fridays.

The cycles is: Preparation, vocabulary, skill introduction,

reading + comprehension, skill instruction The program activities exist in large part

to support classroom management. The 5-day plan standardizes instruction

for the school year and inhibits innovation.


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Basal programs are based on research – Reading Research

Market Research Basal programs are conservative

documents designed to reflect what schools and teachers want. They rarely incorporate new trends. I. Beck’s research on vocabulary (1982-1985)

had no impact on basal vocabulary instruction until 2008, after her book, Bringing Words to Life, was published.


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New research ideas compete for space with instructional traditions.

Just a few research supported instructional ideas that do not appear in basal programs: Decoding by analogy (Gaskins et al., 1996)

Reciprocal teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984)

Transactional strategy instruction (Brown, Pressley & Van Meter, 1996)

Book clubs or Literature circles (Daniels, 1996)

Extensive independent reading (Rentzel, 2010)14

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Establishing a base for themed instruction.

Providing a structure for organizing time and instruction.

Providing foundational lessons for decoding, vocabulary and comprehension.

Providing many good texts for modeling and guided practice, but not for independent reading.


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Providing support, guidance and structure for novice teachers.

Providing lessons and skills for novice readers, but not lessons and skills for advanced and maturing readers.

Basal programs do not assume that the reader will change and grow during the year


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At state departments of education basic standards and structures are defined: Texas in 2009 mandated that skills be included

in the pupils’ edition. California and Texas mandated the number of

repetitions for skills within a lesson.


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At the publishing house Senior executives, editors, marketing experts,

authors determine the scope of the program, type of components, the philosophy – the message.

Senior executives, editorial and marketing experts weigh proposed ideas against costs

Publishers are not interested in instructional ideas that they cannot sell.

“If you could have anything in a reading program what would it be.”


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Lesson plan prototypes are developed by authors, editors and marketing executives.

They must have a structure that will sell, thus nothing radical is typically included.

Prototypes are focus-tested with teachers until a final design is approved.

Anthologies are written by children’s authors and leveled text by freelance writers.

Literature is selected by editors and/or by authors. In some programs authors have little to say about the literature.


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The scope and sequence of skills is fitted to the reading selections by editors, not authors. In some programs the scope/sequence is

designed first and reading selections are fitted to it.

In other programs reading selections are laid out into units first and the scope/sequence of skills are fitted to them.


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The actual lessons are written by editors and by freelance writers hired by development houses. The lessons you teach are not reviewed

by the authors of the program. All other components, tests, workbooks,

graphic organizers etc, are created by development houses following guidelines set by the publishers. Authors do not have input on this work.


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“Everything has become much more focused on cost . . . It’s really scary. If a publisher wants some innovation, cost is going to have a big influence on what goes into a program.”

“Saying you are an author of a basal reader is a euphemism.”

“Basal readers are more about marketing and advertising than about research.”


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Nine Necessary Fixes to Basal Programs and Other Framework as Well


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Basal reading programs have but one goal – finish the program. They make no claim about students’

reading levels or reading proficiency. Unit Tests and Fluency assessments are

used to assess proficiency, with re-teaching as the options for students who do not pass.

Because basals do not set goals, you must!


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Quantitative Goals Primary grades – performance on running

records, or informal reading inventories. Intermediate grades – performance on

state assessments. Qualitative Goals

Establish for the class and for individual students goals in terms of individual books, number of books, and types of responses.


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Read instructionally at 2nd grade level on PALS

Read Little Bear (Minnerick) independently, Level J, DRA 20. 60 pages

Use word recognition strategies, read with moderate fluency, retell the story


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Pass SOL in English with a score of 450 or better.

Read Holes (Sachar), independently, Lexile 680

Use context, dictionary, use narrative structure, infer, summarize, find main idea, determine author’s purpose


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Set goals and communicate them to your students and their parents.

Develop a way to monitor students’ progress in meeting these goals.

Hold individual conferences about students’ reading performance and volume during the school year.

Meet regularly as a grade level to review progress.


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The environment instructs through the materials, the language, and the attitudes in the classroom.

Basal readers have little or nothing to say about creating a literate environment


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Literacy is a habit and desire, not just a skill

◦ Surround the students with print – books, magazines, student crafted print, teacher crafted print

◦ The print created by teachers and students has power and importance in the classroom.

◦ Read books, talk about books, share books and write books.


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Learning to read takes place in multiple social environments: school, home and peer group. The school environment should: Make it safe for students to talk about

how they read and what they read.

Make it safe to err.

Make it safe to talk about confusions and how they are solved.


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Use children’s literature for your read-alouds since basals do not.


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Read-alouds have several goals: Build prior knowledge Develop vocabulary Model comprehension strategies Introduce children to important authors and


Read-alouds in basals Short, written by unknown authors When authentic literature is included the

illustrations have been deleted Not enough text to adequately do the job


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Substitute the basal supplied texts with children’s literature.

Read 2 – 4 texts per week, linking a fiction and a non-fiction selection.

Choose texts that complement the topics or themes of the unit.

Use pre-reading, during reading and post-reading activities.

Employ think-aloud procedures to develop vocabulary and model comprehension strategies.


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I have always believed that if one accepts the theory that the basal reading program must be used it should be adjusted to individual needs and that each child should be encouraged to move on into wider and more advanced material as rapidly as possible.

Arthur Gates, 196435

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In a weekly lesson the average basal reading program provides A short 2-page text to introduce vocabulary. A main anthology selection. A short follow-up non-fiction selection or a

poem. One leveled reader for above, on, below and

ELL students. Decodable texts in kindergarten and first


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Series Total Words per Lesson/Week

Minutes per Day of Reading

HM (2004) 4,262 13.7

HT (2003) 7,562 24.4

MMH (2003)

3,352 10.8

RM (2002) 5,241 16.9

SF (2004) 4,338 14.0

SRA(2002) 3,168 10.2

Mean 4,653 15.0


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◦Use the anthology or leveled books for modeling and guided practice.

◦Use trade books, both fiction and non-fiction, to provide independent practice.

◦Employ literature circles and book clubs along with the basal.


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Scope and sequence of skills often does not match the needs of your students or the standards of your district.


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Scope and sequence – word recognition Phonemic awareness is frequently not

presented in a developmental fashion.

Phonics – there is one skill sequence for all students and rarely a modified sequence for students who struggle.

Phonics lessons in the most current programs now extend through 3rd grade.


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Scope and Sequence – Comprehension Too many skills and strategies taught under

too many different labels.▪ Making inferences, drawing conclusions, making

generalizations▪ Main ideas, details, main idea and details

Vital skills and strategies are not taught early and applied regularly.

Insufficient development and review of critical strategies – despite what they say these are not spiral curricula.


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Making Inferences - Program DRemind students that authors do not always put every bit of information about characters and events on the page. By leaving some information out they let readers apply what they know from personal experience to the story they are reading.

Drawing Conclusions - Program DTell students that authors often use clues instead of explaining everything that happens in a story. A reader must use those clues plus what he knows about stories and

real life to draw conclusions . . .

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Follow a developmental sequence for phonemic awareness instruction.

In small group instruction teach the phonics skills that students lack – provide extensive review.

Teach essential skills early that foster students’ self-teaching abilities. Context clues, dictionary usage Predicting, questioning, monitoring, summarizing

Combine strategies (main idea – details), eliminate redundant ones (making inferences, drawing conclusions).


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Develop prior knowledge and augment the units in basal reading programs.


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The structure of most units is such that what is learned in one selection does not build knowledge for the next selection.

Within lessons the focus is frequently on activating the knowledge that students have and not enlarging that knowledge.

“The movement of the moon around the Earth causes the level of the water along the seashore to rise and fall everyday. This is called the tide.”


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The Pony Express was a success but it lasted only one and a half years. On October 26, 1861 the Pony Express announced its last ride, two days after the Transcontinental Telegraph was completed. (Third grade passage)

Why did the Pony Express end?

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Add knowledge development activities to pre-reading lessons:◦ Use picture books, video, the Internet.

◦ Add instructional techniques like - K-W-L, brainstorming, concept maps, semantic maps.

◦ Select vocabulary words for instruction that are critical to the text’s meaning and ones students need to know.


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Basal Selected Words

bolt lightening rumbled thunder weather horizon

Teacher Selected Words

crowed ceased ingredients scurried jagged strode bellowed luscious glistened


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Explicit instruction requires that students know: What is the strategy

How to do it

When to do it

Why it is important


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Basal programs frequently lack the explicitness that researchers recommend (Duffy et al, 1986).

◦ They articulate a process for the strategy.

◦ Neglect the text clues necessary for the strategy.

◦ Frequently fail to state when to use a strategy or why the strategy is important.

◦ Modeling is limited to one or two selections.

◦ Think-alouds lack specificity.50

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Engage in a process of guided discovery. Follow Duffy’s guidelines. You and the students should discover the

secret of implementing the strategy.▪ Mary looked at her menu trying to find the cheapest

entrée while John gazed lovingly in her eyes. Develop an anchor chart with students to

outline the procedure underlying the strategy. Model often, both the teacher and the



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Happens more than once.Happens before and while students

are reading. Is done by teachers and students. Is accompanied by thinking aloud.Demands that you understand how

you understand.Requires you to be introspective.


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In basal reading programs the during reading lessons: Fail to focus on those parts of the text where

comprehension is difficult.

Include more questions that assess than questions that teach.

Provide too many comprehension questions.

Disrupt meaning construction with questions that focus on phonics, structural analysis and writer’s craft.


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Typical guided reading basal design

DirectExplanation 2 _

1_ 1 _

Mode lingMode ling +Que stioningSkill +ExplanationGuide dPracti ce


Que stioning3_ 1_ 2 _ 2 __

Inde pen de ntPracti ce 1_


Lesson 1Wee k 1

Lesson 2Wee k 2

Lesson 3Wee k 3

Lesson 4Wee k 4

Lesson 5Wee k 5

Lesson 6Wee k 6

Lesson 7Wee k7

= outside the text = inside the text


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Release of responsibility – Guided Reading Most basal programs move quickly from direct

explanation to questioning. Students are not encouraged to model the use

of the strategies. Students are not asked to justify their answers

or explain how or why them employed a strategy.

Students do not lead the discussion. The nature of these lessons does not change

even as the expertise of the students improves.


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The during reading discussions should help students construct the meaning of the text. Use prompts that encourage students to synthesize

what they have read.What is the story about? “What is the author telling

us? Use prompts or questions that help them connect

one idea or sentence to another.How does that connect to what the author already told us?

Model the thinking process and ask students to do so.


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• Ask questions that cause students to use a strategy to solve a text processing problem.

How could we figure out how John feels? What can we infer about Mary’s motives?”

• Ask students to explain how they solved a comprehension problem?“Yes, that is the main idea; how did you find it?” “How did you determine the theme?”


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Replace basal questions with: Reciprocal teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984)

Questioning the Author (Beck, Mckeown & Kucan (1997)

Transactional strategy instruction (Brown, Pressley & Van Meter, 1996).


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Teacher Planning: Read text to identify problems students

will have comprehending the selection. Pick out points where you plan to stop. Pick out difficult parts. The places where

the students are likely to have difficulty:▪ Difficult words and concepts▪ Complex sentences▪ Places where one idea must be linked to

another.▪ Inferences a reader must make.


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The goal is to:Link one sentence to another Link text to prior knowledge Search for problems and solve themMonitor comprehension Employ the major skills and

strategies from the basal program


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Basal reading programs: Provide one lesson

plan for all students. Provide leveled

readers for above level, on level and below level students.

Since program developers have no student data they can’t differentiate instruction.


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Basal programs do a weak job of differentiating instruction: Pre 2008© - Leveled books and workbooks

provide the differentiation, but no small group instruction.

Post 2008© - A differentiated lesson plan is provided for small group instruction, but in most programs the differentiation is minimal; the same activities are provided for students reading above, on and below level.


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• Differentiation of instruction requires attention to time, teaching, texts, and tasks.

• Time: Struggling readers require more of your instructional time guiding them and strong readers flourish when they are working alone (Connor et al., 2009).

• Teaching: Struggling readers need more explicit instruction and strong readers do not.

• Texts: All students should be placed in texts that are engaging and appropriately challenging. Basal programs lack the texts that strong readers need (O’connor, et al., 2002)


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Texts: For the sake of motivation students must have some choice in what they read, even for instructional texts.

Tasks: Workbooks provide little benefit to either struggling or strong readers.

Tasks: Strong readers flourish with tasks that are long, substantive and demand work over several days.

Tasks: Struggling readers need engaging task that require them to think about decoding, vocabulary or comprehension


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Basal programs view instruction as a sequence of skills and texts. Teachers must view instruction by asking:

What is my vision for my students by the end of the year?

What kind of readers do I want them to be?

How will I get them there?


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Basal programs do not assume that students will grow in expertise as the year progresses. You must make their growth your goal.

◦ By the middle of the year students should have some expertise in a core set of strategies.

◦ Skills and strategies that require teacher support at the beginning of the year should not at the end of the year.


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Over the last 50 years the research has consistently shown that the teacher has a greater impact on the quality of achievement than does the program.

Evidence against the limits of fidelity Bond & Dykstra (1967) Baumann & Heubach (1996) McGill-Franzen et al. (2006) Dewitz, Jones and Leahy (2009) Brenner and Hiebert (2010)


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Research has never shown that the program is more important than the teacher. Rather we know that: All teachers mold and modify the use of

basal reading programs to their beliefs (Baumann et al., 1998; Hoffman et al, 2004)

Knowledgeable teachers can improve instruction even with the most scripted programs (Piasta et al., 2009)


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Development of Core Reading Programs: Past & Present

How to Study and Select a Core Reading Program

How to Use Core Reading Programs Effectively

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