This post is a for a series called “Quick Guide to Benchmark Advance,” which helps teachers with the basics.
Benchmark Advance is designed to be a workshop program. The program heavily emphasizes both small & whole group instruction.
There are three main whole group lessons: word study, close reading, and writing. These lessons are found in your TRS. The lessons are meant to be kept mini, which takes a lot of practice! It’s not impossible, but it will take time to perfect your mini lesson. Here’s an example of one of my mini lessons. The key to keeping lessons mini is reminding yourself that you are not teaching to mastery each time. Set a clear objective for each lesson, find a few good examples in the text to model, ask for a teeny bit of student input, and then get into those small groups!
During whole group instruction, K-1 students are using the big books and the My Shared Reading consumable text. Second through sixth grade students use the Texts for Close Reading books. This is their consumable “magazine.”
This is where you get your precious guided reading time, where you meet with homogeneously grouped students, reading and practicing the skills using a text at their level. You can follow the teacher lesson plans that come with each leveled text, or you can continue practicing the skill you just introduced in your whole group time (which is what I like to do).
“But what is everyone else doing?” – every teacher
The rest of the students are working on center/station tasks that reinforce the skills for that week. It’s basically their independent practice. I have the following centers: word work, read-to-self, writing, and technology. In the word work center, my students work on pamphlets that have spelling, vocabulary, and grammar practice for that week. In the read-to-self center, my students answer text-dependent questions and then read a book of their choice. In the writing center, students practicing writing to that week’s prompt. In the technology center, I have about 8 Chromebooks and students work on research, a Google Slides activity, or listen to their leveled reader read aloud to them on the Benchmark website. You can also explore the “Practice” tab on Benchmark Universe to print blackline masters that can be used as independent work.
Managing rotations takes a little bit of time, but displaying some sort of visual helps everyone stay on track. I have students in teams and in reading groups, and I have them running all at the same time. I use a chart that shows where everyone is for the day.
Each team member has designated roles to keep things running smoothly in their centers so that I don’t have to intervene during my guided reading time. Every student has something to work on. To learn more about how I set everything up, you can watch a video I filmed breaking everything down. It’s a bit intimidating setting up centers at first, but it’s well worth it!
Click on the links below to read the other
blog posts included in this “Quick Guide” Series.
A MESSAGE BEFORE YOU BEGIN: This is a good message to keep in mind as you get started
SUPPLY LIST: A short list of items you may want to purchase for your students
MATERIALS OVERVIEW: A shortcut page to reference materials in the program
PLANNING: Tips for planning a unit and week effectively
TEACHER TIPS: Advice from teachers who are already using the program