Thursday, August 4, 2011

Journeys Reading

Have you ever been trained in Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys? I'm attending a training on the program next week. I haven't used a basal reading program in 4 years! I used Open Court / SRA and Reading A-Z for the two years I taught second grade. I found it to be a bit weak in phonics and spent a decent amount of time coming up with graphic organizers for comprehension. I did like how the spelling words followed phonemic patterns and were embedded into the stories, though.
Rebecca Sitton's Spelling Sourcebook 1 (Spelling Sourcebook Series)
When I taught third grade, we used core novels (Mr. Popper's Penguins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Stories Julian Tells, and Ramona the Brave) as well as Rigby Readers for guided reading and Rebecca Sitton Spelling (which was too easy). My students really struggled with decoding and deriving meaning of the vocabulary words through the novels, plus we've all seen Willy Wonka in the movies, and even though we compared the book and the movie before taking the test, students were still confusing the two. Can you believe they're ALL now movies except Julian?! Needless to say, those novels are no longer used.
Explode the Code 1
I used Project Read and Explode the Code (LOVED it!) plus a few other resources when I taught basic skills, and didn't teach reading for the past two years while I was in science lab.

Journeys uses the Focus Wall concept and Irene Fountas created the guided reading part. There are books for below, on, and above grade level as well as ELL and vocabulary. It has a good deal of vocabulary development and non-fiction reading. From what I can see, everything is created for you. Lesson plans are prewritten and student pages are easy to copy. I'm not sure how much I like the mostly worksheet approach, but I do see plans for a journal, listening center, and word work stations...not sure if the district purchased them though....  I'm also wondering if spelling words are embedded.

The website only shows the first grade teacher's guide, so I'm looking forward to getting a peek at the guides for upper grades.

Any experiences, advice, or resources?

*ADDED: My Journeys website for third grade*

Check out other Journeys posts here.


  1. We just adoped the Journeys as our reading series. I find that the students really like the stories and they are easy for them to relate to. We didn't really use the writing component this year, although it seems to be very good. Overall, I like the program. Each lesson is primarily skills based and the writing component uses a 5 day approach and several different styles each day. You can do journaling with mini writing assignments just to teach the piece of the skill, and you can grade those, but the students should have one "finished" piece of writing at least once a month. We also used vocabulary workshop with this series, which gives the 4th graders a lot of words to memorize for vocabulary. We are trying to eliminate the vocab workshop because we felt that teh vocab in journeys was more advanced than our previous reading series. I found myself re-creating the tests from Journeys because some of the answer choices were very similar and confusing. I like the online component and the vocabulary cards, turn the activities on the back of the cards into group stations. I sill supplemented the decoding with PR for some of my kids because I didn't feel like the phonemic piece of Journeys was that great for decoding. Hope this helps!

  2. Thanks, Katie! So glad someone I know actually uses the program!