Is your child learning reading the right way?

It's not just about learning to read. It's also about how your child is being taught to read. Here are the most popular approaches - one of these is likely used at your child's school.

By Linda Jacobson

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Imagine It! (previously Open Court)

Grades covered: K - 6

Imagine It! from SRA/McGraw-Hill is a comprehensive elementary reading and writing program. Imagine It! is a structured, prescriptive program that's designed to reach all levels of learners.

In the past, some critics of Open Court, the earlier version of the program, have argued that it's more effective at teaching isolated literacy skills than developing students’ reading comprehension. The program has been found to boost reading test scores, but some critics question whether the gains continue into the later elementary grades. Many teachers also objected to the inflexible structure of the program. In 2011, the Los Angeles Unified School District scrapped Open Court, and adopted the Treasures curriculum instead.

When the Open Court curriculum was being revised, teachers were consulted to address ways to improve it, so Imagine It! includes many new instructional features, including enhanced vocabulary instruction and digital activities.

What it looks like: The centerpiece of Imagine It! is the “teacher edition,” which highlights how lessons link to the Common Core State Standards (the new national education standards) and gives teachers a variety of strategies for instruction. The program's theme-based student readers include fiction and nonfiction texts, as well as poetry. Additional support is provided through the eStudent Reader, an interactive, online resource. Typical homework includes writing sentences with spelling words and nightly reading and writing assignments.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Kaufman

Linda Jacobson is a freelance education writer who lives in Southern California.

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