Sunday, May 06, 2007

SRA/McGraw-Hill Plays Both Sides!

SRA/McGraw-Hill Announces New Research-Based Elementary Reading & Language Arts Program: Imagine It!

"The new core Pre-K-6 reading and language arts curriculum from leading elementary educational publisher SRA/McGraw-Hill gives teachers everything needed to inform instruction and reach all students."
SRA, the same people who distribute Direct Instruction, now have a new curriculum.

"SRA's Imagine It! helps students develop the skills to think and investigate the answers to their own questions. The Concept/Question Board is used throughout each unit to keep students exploring and finding new dimensions to the unit theme. The strong Inquiry strand contains built-in tools in every unit that promote curiosity, investigation, and higher-order thinking. Each unit begins with student-led discussions that prompt questions and areas of investigation about the unit theme."
It seems like SRA wants to go after the "inquiry" crowd. I know SRA is in the business to make money, but doesn't it seem like they are sort of like arms dealers who sell weapons to both the rebels and the government that they are fighting?

I mean after all, on the same website that they are promoting a program that uses a "strong Inquiry strand", they also have this brochure (pdf), that states:

Before creating any Direct Instruction program, the authors carefully analyze the skills and strategies that must be taught. Every part of a Direct Instruction program is based upon solid research on how children learn and is validated in classrooms. The programs are written by the Direct Instruction authors to:
• Present tasks clearly in a way that allows students to understand concepts the first time they are introduced
• Present new material in small increments to help students achieve mastery
• Select examples and put them in a logical sequence
• Provide opportunities for guided practice and cumulative review
• Incorporate continuous assessment and management
Now of course, perhaps Imagine It!, is nothing more than a scientifically based program dressed up to satisfy all "whole language" and "Inquiry Learning" crowd, but it certainly confused me.

Perhaps they are banking on the pro-DI crowd getting booted due to the Reading First scandal, figured they would be replaced with a more "progressive" leaning crew, and had to come up with a different program to make money.


Dickey45 said...

I've been telling my buddy that DI is SRA's red-headed step child. I suspect they would love to get rid of it. I honestly think they spend only a few thousand on the DI conference in Eugene, even though it is a big 'ol 5 day long SRA advertisement.

Open curriculum. Either we figure out a way to buy the DI curriculum and make it open to all (ie or we wait until SRA sticks it on the back porch and get it for a song.

CrypticLife said...

That's sad, dickey45.

If it became open curriculum, would schools use it? Or are there other financial benefits to using a curriculum that you have to pay for?

Dickey45 said...

No, there likely would not be a big uptake. But what I think would happen is that small districts and/or schools strapped for cash that can't afford curriculum would take a look. After a while, maybe a couple years, they might implement it. If it is well written and documented, they might start using more and more. Hopefully, the news would spread and the article out there from a few years ago saying that wikibooks will give the textbook industry a run for its money might start looking like there is truth to it. Look at Linux. Gads, my ex husband's cousin swore it would kill Microsoft in 1993.

I suspect that home school parents would take it up before schools. Free is a good price.

Or, we could just start re-writing from scratch. Copyright attorney, illustrator, and author anyone?

Dickey45 said...

Ugh, I hate it when I leave stuff out. When "we" pay for it, I mean as a group of parents/teachers/professionals, maybe as part of a nonprofit group like wikimedia.