I am most of the way through the teacher’s guide of the Primary Comprehension Toolkit and I am impressed and excited! I began using the grade 3-6 Comprehension Toolkit a year and a half ago and our building began using it for all 4th and 5th grade at the beginning of the last school year (2007-2008). It is one of the few resources that all 15 teachers have been able to agree on-everyone likes using it and thinks the learning it promotes in our students is very worthwhile and comprehensive.
Last year one of the fifth grade teachers and I went through and divided the texts that came with the Comprehension Toolkit and added onto the lessons as needed from the Toolkit Text book for grades 4 & 5. We then made binders for each teacher by grade level. We agreed last year that teachers would use the binders as suggestions, but if they found new books or texts, they were free to substitute their own titles. The division of the texts left no teacher feeling frustrated that the “lesson had been taught” by the previous year’s teacher. We all saw the value in teaching and reinforcing the comprehension strategies in both grades, but most teachers wanted the security of knowing which texts to use and also the security of knowing their like-kind colleagues would be able to talk to them about how the text had gone when used in their classroom. Once teachers had taught the lesson once, they felt more comfortable branching out into their own text selections.
I like how the Primary Comprehension Toolkit’s Teacher’s Guide lists the 12 Principles that Guide Our Work.
1. Teach for Understanding and Engagement
2. Create an Environment for Active Literacy
3. Understand that Text Matters
4. Foster Passion and Curiosity
5. Share Our Literate Lives
6. Create a Common Language for Literacy and Learning
7. Build Instruction Around Real-World Reading
8. Provide Explicit Instruction with the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework
9. Make Thinking Visible
10. Recognize that Reading, Writing, and Art and Interconnected and Synergistic
11. Differentiate Instruction Paying Special Attention to the Needs of Developing Readers and English Language Learners
12. Teach with the End in Mind
There are also sections on how to set up an active literacy classroom in a primary grades, how to fit the primary toolkit into reading workshop, a basal based program or into content areas, depending on time constraints.
It seems that the lessons are easier to transfer to your text selections than the intermediate edition, but I haven’t compared them lesson to lesson, so it could just be me being used to the format and equating familiarity with easier.