BASALS

We shouldn't teach great books, we should teach the love of reading.
B.K. Skinner




Basals are the books which are used in primary grades to teach reading. This curriculum has teacher guides, teaching materials and worksheets. Some curriculum have student workbooks. The curriculum usually provide pre-test and post-tests as well as evaluations.


Students with learning disabilities usually have trouble with this type of curriculum for several reasons.


  • minimum amount of phonics taught
  • not taught in a sequential/systematic order
  • expected to read words which haven't been taught


Most of these books are based on whole language. I like to call these literature books because there is very little reading skills taught in these books.


Basals are great to acquaint the student with many kinds of short stories. However most of these stories are well beyond the reading level of most students; especially in first and second grade.


There is nothing wrong with a child being challenged in what he reads. However, this can be very frustrating for students with little or no background knowledge that helps the reader comprehend what is being read. Many of these language rich stories need extensive prior knowledge if students are going to enjoy them.



The stories contain many new words. Very little, if any, is readable for the struggling reader. In fact, because every child is at a different reading level, many teachers read these stories out loud to the class.


There are several curriculum that claim it teaches phonics. However, the phonics is not taught in a sequential order which is the only way most beginning readers should be taught. Most of these curriculum scatter the phonics over the period of the 9 month school year.


But the students aren't learning any decoding skills from these books and struggling readers aren't learning how to read.


I recommend using decodable books such as Primary Phonics Storybooks for the beginning reader.


For the older struggling reader, I suggest using The Alphabetic Series.

I have been using these readers for more than 25 years. These are based on the Orton Gillingham sequential/systematic teaching method. Alpha-Omega also has a reading series based on the O-G method of teaching phonic.



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