Starting the year
  • It is best to plan for one lesson a week, including the 4 day weeks, to complete the program by June. You must do the "Getting Started" Story and the Main Selection. You can combine some skill lessons that are repeated on numerous days in the week. You can skip workbook pages. Don't skip poem charts.
Lesson Plans
  • Write your plans in a format that can be used year after year. For example, Label the days as "Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, etc." rather than the date.

  • It is necessary to start the assessments during the first week of school. Time constraints in the second grade program seem to necessitate this.
  • After using the program for a number of years, we have cut the number of assessments and currently no longer give weekly tests (unless a specific weakness is noted and needs to be assessed). (Note that it is not necessary to give every page of a weekly test, but rather you can target a skill area and give those pages.) The Beginning, Middle and End of the year benchmark tests are helpful, but we do eliminate them if they fall at a time when our district is administering standardized testing (such as the NWEA) since you gain the same information from them. We continue to give Theme tests.
  • We continue to do DRA Assessments at 2-3 times throughout the school year. They yield diagnostic reading assessments that the weekly and theme tests lack.
  • Many teachers also include a basic sight word checklist. Storytown uses high frequency words, but the basic second grade words from Frye or Dolche often yield information that is useful in establishing fluency.

  • Homework will include math, phonics or spelling, and reading each night.
  • We had our second grade students cover the hardcover Storytown text book with a ShopRite style bag to protect it on its journey home each week. We send the Storytown text home twice a week for students to read the week's stories to their parents.
  • Small copies of Small group instruction/guided reading books go home each night in a plastic envelope to protect them. We include a reading log for parents to record the number of minutes the child read each night.

Classroom Management
  • It is necessary to "preload" or set up vocabulary word cards, phonic alphabet cards, story questions, question of the day, objectives the day before a lesson. Lessons are fast paced and switch from word work to skills quickly without time to grab necessary word cards or write questions on the chart. We may attempt to set up "questions of the day" in a powerpoint program and save them on the computer as there are over 150 of them. This way we can display today's question on the TV monitor and discuss. (include TE pg reference and objective)
  • Using multiple pocket charts, wipe boards, powerpoint, easels are all helpful in "preloading" your lessons with objectives, vocabulary, questions, prompts, etc.
  • Send home a copy of the "School-Home Connection" each week to parents.

Managing Materials
  • Since the workbook covers are very similar, apply color coded stickers to help differentiate between each workbook quickly.
  • Workbooks can be cumbersome for students to carry home (and possibly lose) so we suggest tearing pages out and sending individual pages home in a folder or HW binder. Enlist 4th grade helpers or parent helpers to tear pages out for the next week.
  • "Strategic Intervention" booklets are listed as consumable, but these can also be used in small group lessons to help struggling readers. If you have students point to the answers...they do not need to be consumed.
  • Small group paperback readers come in cardboard tiered boxes. We suggest taking them out of these and storing them in 3 bins (below level, on level, above level) with the books in lesson order (marked on the book by the publisher) and with the five copies tucked inside the cover of the first copy of the book (6 total). This way you can easily grab a packet of books and place them in the back of the box when you are finished with them.
  • In our fifth year with this series, we stopped purchasing the Spelling Practice Book (differentiated spelling lists replace this) and the Grammar Practice Book (Interactives on the Promethean board replace this with a few worksheets too). We use many of the pages in the Practice Book and few pages in the Phonics Book.

  • We do not do every page in the Phonics Workbook. Pick and choose as needed!

  • Spelling words can be given 5 pts. each on the test, plus bonus words, making a total possible score of 125 for grading purposes.
  • Many students appear to need "bonus" or "challenge" words added to the basic Storytown list. We tie in vocabulary from Science and Social Studies here.
  • This year we have added differentiated spelling lists to the Storytown spelling list. More advanced students receive modified lists. There is a great site online where the Study Guide for each lesson is editable:

  • This is one area where we have added to the Storytown components. It is a nice area to infuse Holiday or themed writing projects.

  • Check the theme test to note the meaning of the vocabulary word that they are focusing on. Shades of meaning are often a problem (i.e., Cooperative: working in a group or working without arguments)
  • Target those Robust vocabulary words that will be on the Theme test with additional work such as illustrating the word and writing a sentence using that word. The anthology story and daily lessons in vocabulary do not seem to produce mastery knowledge but rather exposure knowledge in our students. Additional work appeared necessary for our students to be successful on the Theme tests.

Whole group Reading
  • Pilot teacher sent home the hard cover story on Mon and Tues to reread at home. There are nice bookmarks available on our first website under the LINKS section. These bookmarks have the weekly spelling words printed on them and I add the nightly reading assignments, such as Monday read "Tag" Tuesday read "Let's Tap" Wednesday read your small book etc. Students should use the bookmark for the whole week.
  • To encourage participation during whole group reading, it is helpful to vary the routine each week. We have included: pass the microphone reading, "popcorn reading" where students read one paragraph and say "popcorn Joey" for Joey to read next, small groups standing together to read, reader's chair, etc.

Small group Reading
  • Pilot teacher sent home the little books Wed. and Thurs. to read at home.
  • Small books are meant to be read more than once at home. Supplement with small leveled readers from Rigby, Sunshine, Wright, etc. to enable students to have a variety of small books.
  • During learning centers/Daily 5, work stations, etc. have students keep a collection of 5 small books that they have previously read. Use "reading phones" or "plumbing pipes" to allow students to read aloud to themselves without disturbing others or you!

Literacy Centers
  • It is suggested to use Storytown's Literacy Centers while you are meeting with small groups. The centers each have an explanation card and do not generate papers for you to check.
  • During centers, students often need a "home base" where they go to their desk/seat where they will have a few "jobs" to do such as journal, arts/crafts on the theme or holiday, handwriting, etc.
  • This year (2012) we have incorporated "The Daily 5" to replace Storytown's Literacy Centers.

Ending the Year
  • There is a weekly test, unit test and end of the year test. All are not necessary. The end of the year test data is needed for portfolio data.
  • Don't be concerned if you do not finish all of the lessons. Depending on the pacing for your unique group, this is normal. Note key robust vocabulary needed for the last (end of the year) test and be sure to cover that. It's not a race to the finish...its the journey along the way that counts.