Friday, August 12, 2011

Math Manipulatives and Reading Program Frustrations

It's been a LONG week of orientations, trainings, and institutes!

First, for the good news! I follow ETA/Cuisenaire on facebook, and a while back, they offered a giveaway of a set of their new mini VersaTiles cases. I entered it, and then they ended up giving it away to everyone who entered! I got my set of 10 in the mail today.
I'm so excited about this! As you may remember, my math manipulative situation is pretty desperate. Although these aren't really manipulatives, they're more like a review tool, I still think they will complement our math program well! Also I can use them for other subjects! And I found out that I can create my own VersaTiles activities using the template on their website!

And now for the semi-bad news. Yesterday, I went to two trainings so I can learn how to use my new reading program, Superkids.
I'm pretty sure no one uses this besides the Archdiocese of Chicago. This program was created by the woman who made American Girls. It is extremely phonics heavy, as in, they don't want you to teach any other word-attack strategies. Their idea of differentiation is using the same decodable reader for all of the students, but just "teaching it in different ways." If you have a high reader, you aren't supposed to give the kid a chapter book - you're just supposed to force the kid to read the -sh digraph story regardless.

I read a LOT this summer, including the Daily Five, Reading With Meaning, and Growing Readers books. Everything these books told me to do is opposite of this program. In the first grade program, they even literally said in the training manual that students should only be reading SuperKids materials - no authentic text.

I am just beside myself. Luckily, having read all of these books, I had enough backup to convince my principal that I can't teach SuperKids the way they intend and that I need to supplement it highly. Luckily, he said that was fine and he is supporting my choice! If I did everything according to their crazy plan, I would spend 90 minutes on first grade and 120 minutes on second grade. Ummm...???

So that's the scoop! We start school, I'm pretty happy with how my room looks, and I'm going in tomorrow with my next-door buddy to continue getting things ready!


  1. That's great that you were strong enough to tell your principal that you needed to supplement your curriculum. It's even better that he listened.

    You'll have to let us know how the program does after a few months,

  2. I love manipulatives and anything that can incorporate learning and fun at the same time.

  3. Could you email me about what you did with Superkids in First and Second multi age- That is my world come next fall and I am struggling with it too. My Principal is ok with adding to the program or combining skills if need be but I am struggling with how...
    I teach in Land O Lakes, WI in the Northland Pines School District. Fourth grade this year but Multiage 1/2 next. I have taught Superkids before so I know how the program works Thank you!!!!
    Cynthia Spiess


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