Monday, May 23, 2011

Pearson Review

Pearson is a popular supplier of materials to public schools, and have recently been branching out into other educational markets as well.  Members of the review crew were given one of three products:  Social Studies, Math, or Reading, in first and second grade levels.  We received the second grade level of Scott Foresman’s Reading Street, in two large hardback books.  These books are available from Pearson School for $43.47 each. 
My first impression of these books?  They are beautiful hardback books that look like they were made to withstand a classroom and would certainly stand up to a typical homeschooling family!  Each book is divided up into units, 6 in all.  The units are each made up of five selections, in both fiction and nonfiction, and accompanying ideas and activities. 
The stories are a good mix of genres, including fairy tales, folk tales, realistic fiction, and fantasy.  There are a few biographies and plays also.  Each story also includes a ‘paired selection’ and this is a short piece that enhances the story, such a poetry, a nonfiction article, or a demonstration of online research techniques.  The story Henry and Mudge and the Starry Night is accompanied by an expository nonfiction article, Star Pictures in the Sky.  The folk tale Turtle’s Race with Beaver is paired with a diagram, The Secret Life of Ponds.
Before the child begins reading there are some introductory materials to help him out, including a new word/ vocabulary section and then a short paragraph with the new words in it to practice.  The stories in the first book are followed by a few different sections.  They include comprehension questions, information about the author along with other books they wrote, the ‘paired selection’, and a section with writing ideas and helps.  There is also a slightly confusing ‘oral vocabulary’ spread, which contains some bright illustrations and photographs but no text. 
Book two, containing units 4, 5 and 6, employs a slightly different approach.  Each story now begins with a section on comprehension skills, preparing the child with specific techniques,  the vocabulary/new word section now includes a vocabulary strategy for each story, emphasizing how to figure out difficult words.  The ‘paired selections’ in this book are varied, with interesting mediums such as newspaper and magazine articles, interviews,  and e-mails. 
We have really enjoyed these books.  I like the varied subject matter, and the fact that these are real books, not contrived “readers” made up of pre-selected word lists.  I also appreciate the inclusion of so much non-fiction, because a lot of children's early readers are just silly stories and that is all they get used to reading.
Bop has just finished up first grade, and is reading at a first grade or second grade level, depending on what test you use.  She loves looking through these books, because frankly, they are beautiful.  She has struggled a little with the readings, not because they are too hard, but because they are pretty long.  After hearing a little more about how these types of reading books are used in school, I think I understand why.  (Remember, I never set foot in a public school classroom so I don’t know this stuff. )  One of our fellow crew members explained to us that most of the time the children take turns reading the selections, so one child is not responsible for reading the entire story straight through.  I was trading reading with Bop, and I felt a little guilty about it, but now I know that this is how the book was designed.  I am sure that her tolerance for long readings will build up as she gains fluency.  When we read them together without me forcing more on her then she can do in one sitting, she does beautifully.  And she really enjoys reading out of these books, because there is so much variety and interest.

You can read more about the Scott Foresman reading program on the Pearson School website, and don’t forget to read the other reviews at The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

I received this product free of charge
as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew,
for review purposes. I promise to be honest
and fair in my reviews, and I received no
other compensation in exchange for my review.
to read more reviews on this product.

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