My school is making the big shift to a basal this year. I have NEVER used one and I am a little bit excited/intrigued/terrified. I am excited to have a guide, but I’m afraid of feeling blocked in. On the first day that I had access to my classroom, I was reminded of the PALLETS ON PALLETS ON PALLETS that we unloaded with all of our Wonders materials. Are we going to feel suffocated?
For years, our district has challenged each grade level to use the district-designed unit assessments or to create one as a grade level. This year – that’s done. Gone. Kaput. Instead, our district is making the shift away from the teacher-designed unit assessments to the basal assessments. No more are our struggles and fights with Excel (although, we were totally getting the hang of it!). Teachers will now input data into the Wonders dashboard in order to compare across schools. Still doing the same thing we’ve always done but now it’s on a new platform.
The program definitely has potential to do great things (like taking away the need to search for spelling words, sight word sequence, nonfiction texts, and a scope). However, does it mean we are going to push aside some of our more fun content in order to fit in the INSANE load of materials that come with the program? I guess we will have to wait and see how this plays out.
With the Wonders program, every child has access to a Close Reading Companion, a Literature Anthology, and a Reading/Writing Workshop text. While the specific texts might change, these are still the resources that kids will be using on a daily basis. The desks at my school have pockets underneath, however, due to class sizes sometimes being greater than the number of desk pockets, we do not use them. My students store all of their materials in their cubbies. It will be no different for our basal components!
My students use numbers in the classroom for a whole slew of things. They are assigned a number at the beginning of the year based on their alphabetical order. This number is what we use for lining up, for finding our cubbies, for locating our mailboxes and book boxes, and now it will be the number used to identify our texts. All of the items in the student cubbies were numbered for those moments when someone leaves their text on the ground…but that never happens 😉
As for the extra texts, there are multiple anthologies and workshop texts that have been stored on other shelves in my classroom. These texts were numbered ahead of time, just like the others, and separated by title.
I don’t know about you, but the red is BLINDING. I kept imagining, “Mrs. Carney, what are those books?” “Mrs. Carney, why are there so many of them?” “Mrs. Carney, why aren’t we using those books?” “Mrs. Carney, when do we get to use them?” I love my sweet little first graders, but I did not want to hear that from now until December. So…I solved the problem!
I had tons of scrap fabric around my house
because I’m a hoarder and I was able to use it to cover those two shelves! Along the metal, I applied some painter’s tape. This was for two reasons: 1) I wasn’t sure if I was actually aloud to put adhesive velcro on the shelf itself. 2) By applying the velcro to the tape, I could easily lift and move the tape to adjust the fabric rather than trying to unstick the velcro.
Adhering the fabric in this way will make it so much easier when I am ready to trade out books in later Units.
No, it isn’t perfect, but it gets the job done. I was also able to stick my crates of Reading A-Z books for Guided Reading under there!
Wonders also provides you with a slew of Approaching Leveled Readers, On Grade Leveled Readers, Beyond Leveled Readers, and ELL Leveled Readers. My school opted to send all of the ELL products to the ELL teachers so that they may also use the Wonders program in their pull-out times.
These texts came out of the package already in rubberbands (yay!). I wanted to keep the Leveled lesson that accompanied the text in close proximity so I stored them with the lesson behind the text. Think of them as dividers! There is a form that comes with the Leveled lessons that tells you when each text is used throughout the Wonders units. I used this form to tell me in what order to place the texts inside my baskets.
Each basket houses only one level. The green basket houses the green books, the light blue houses the light blue books, and the dark blue basket houses the….orange books? (Ya girl ran out of baskets, okay?) This means that in any given week, I could pull the texts at the front of each basket and begin planning right away! When the week is over, I will simply stick the texts in the back of each basket so they will work their way back to the front by the end of the year.
My focus wall is at the entrance of my classroom. This wall will be used to write our weekly standards, to store our weekly sight words and vocabulary, and to house our Essential Question.
Weekly sight words will be in the blue chart, Vocabulary words will be placed in the Orange Chart.
*Sight words and Vocabulary will make their way over to my word wall at the end of each week. 🙂
The next little place that I’m hiding my goodies is under this table.
This table is right next to my desk, under my calendar, and next to my carpet. For all intents and purposes – it’s near my command center. Just like the shelves, I added velcro to this table to hide all sorts of little knick knacks. In relation to Wonders, however, it’s home to my Big Books and some of my weekly manipulatives.
No special tricks here – it’s literally a stack of books sitting on the floor beneath the table. It’s easy to access and, more importantly, it gets the job done.
This little guy is going to be home base for SO many of the Wonders cards and materials. The crate houses Retelling Cards, Sight Word cards, Sequencing Cards, Literacy Center cards, and it will also house the Photo Cards (as soon as we get them!)
The handiest thing I discovered when separating materials was that Wonders has taken care of the responsibility of labeling which Unit and Week the materials belong to. I used those references to help in my organization.
For the retelling cards, each week was paper clipped together. I then binder clipped the weeks together to create a single unit. Finally, and this was just my preference, I rubber banded the entire set of retelling cards into one, large pile.
For the Sight Word cards, each week of sight words was binder clipped together and then rubber banded into clumps by units.
Sequencing cards were paper clipped by story, put in order of weeks, and rubber banded together by unit.
My mind is already rolling with some of the modifications I will make to how the resources are used so that it still fits in line with the Jan plan and Daily 5. Check back soon to see how it comes along in our classroom!
Does your school use a basal? Comment below! I’d love to hear from your experiences 🙂