This past week, many of our teachers attended a training for Benchmark Universe! This week’s blog post summarizes the learning from our Benchmark trainings, reposts blogs from past trainings, and works to ask questions about how to get the most benefits out of this program!
What is Benchmark?
The Benchmark program has six components:
- Whole Group Reading
- Guided Reading
The program includes 10 units that are all CCSS aligned by grade level. Units 1-7 work to introduce and spiral the standards, 8-10 are review lessons. Daily, teachers have access to two reading lessons, guided reading resources, ELD lessons, and one writing lesson.
Third grade shared that they have started incorporating GLAD strategies during their shared reading time. They use input charts to support reading comprehension strategies and to make connections to vocabulary words.
The program is organized by weeks:
- Week 1: concepts and standards are introduced
- Week 2: practice with differentiated texts and resources
- Week 3; apply the skill
Whole Group Reading
The reading section includes ten units that are 50% fiction and 50% nonfiction. The nonfiction expository section alternates between science and social studies. Both digital and consumable resources are provided with the program. All themes are consistent across grade levels which will lend itself to cross-grade level collaborative opportunities.
All guided reading resources are leveled, include audio and digital components, DOK questions, and have a readers theater component.
This section is differentiated for all EL levels. It includes a rubric for formative assessments. Scaffolds are included to support students in achieving success in reaching grade level CCSS.
The curriculum includes weekly writing tasks. There is a task for the teacher and for the student. The writing section of Benchmark Education integrates with our current writer’s workshop model. Examples are included for each grade level, which could be used as mentor texts. Lessons on revising and editing and included as well.
All assessments are pre-made and aligned to CCSS. Weekly quizzes are also included to help teachers provide intervention to students who need additional support.
Mini lessons are included to support students with scaffolded instruction. The extra practice can also be connected to Achieve3000 by assigning readings about similar topics.
The DI section is not a direct translation of the English component. Instead, it works to maintain the meaning of the text while providing students with a grade level appropriate text.
There are so many components to this program and I know our teachers are using them in such innovative ways. As I was reflecting on this, I realized how much we can learn when we take time to communicate, reflect and share the strategies that we are using in our classes. This is true for the components of any curriculum and any online program! I am incredibly curious to hear more about how everyone uses the different programs we have. Some questions that I have that I would love to get information about are:
- What are your go-to small group resources?
- What are some challenges that you have students working on when they are not part of your small group?
- How do you hold students accountable for their work?
- What are some of your favorite features of _____?
- Have you found any features of Benchmark that you feel make your teaching better or more effective?
- Is this program innovative in the sense that it makes learning different for the better?
One of the things about Benchmark that I have found most useful is the fact that students can run a remote peer conference by sharing and commenting on each other’s writing! I also love the feature where students can message the teacher and get a response back (see the image below for an example of this). I was still curious about what parts of the program I have not yet seen. So, to learn more, I took my curiosity to Google and found the following:
While we can learn so much from Google, I also wonder how we can share our practices with each other. I know that we are lucky enough to have time to do this during our collaboration, but how powerful would it be if we also shared our thoughts across multiple grade levels?! I know that I am constantly pushing these conversations and I hope that you will all take the time to share a few thoughts and strategies about how you are using Benchmark!