Tuesday, April 20

The Fight: Reading Workshop vs. The Basal

In this corner… the basal! The heavy weight tradition, weighing in at 2 lbs per teacher's manual, dressed in shiny orange spirals along with a sparkly cover to hold it all together.  Nourished by weekly multiple-choice tests. Glitz and glamour and a cloak that states, “I followed the prescription!  Nothing is my fault.”  Endorsed and backed by the biggest publishing companies.

In the other corner… the underdog, Reading Workshop.  No fancy packaging, but basket after basket of books of every genre.  Some are torn and worn from so much use.  No weekly test, no worksheets and typically noisy with lots of chatter and talk.  Fueled by passion and joy for reading.

Lately, it seems as if I’m in a boxing match and I’m the underdog!  Today a teacher came into my classroom while I was editing an “End of Book Letter” with one of my third graders.  She was amazed by the intensity of the one-on-one meeting we were having.  Moreover, she was in awe of the amount of work it takes to read, edit and meet with each student. 

I’m the only teacher at my school that uses Reading Workshop and all of the others use the basal series.  On this day, when the opportunity presented itself, I came out ready to pummel.  I enthusiastically thought I had my opponent on the ropes and I was ready with my offense. I came out fighting, and blow-by-blow, I extolled the benefits, rewards, and virtues of Reading Workshop.  Before I knew it, she tried to sucker punch me.  She said, “Sounds good, but it is too much work.”  

Although I may not have persuaded her, I’m still certain that I won the fight! I only had to look at the faces of my students as they read the novels they chose.
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