Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 370, Chapter 13: Instructional Materials

Components of a Basal Reading Program

A brief overview of some of the similar components that are part of almost every basal series follows:

  • Emergent Literacy: develop basic concepts in language, letter-sound relationships, sense of context, following directions, and listening comprehension. Programs are often organized thematically, include a variety of support materials, and capitalize on children’s curiosity about print to get them excited about reading and making predictions
  • Beginning Reading: New basic sight words are introduced, high-frequency sight words accumulate. Feature explicit, systematic, and intensive phonics with decodable text
  • Strategy Lessons: Individual and group lessons and activities to teach sight vocabulary, phonics, structural analysis, and use of contexts
  • Comprehension Strand: Prereading, during reading and postreading strategies and lessons. Comprehension is the goal of reading instruction. Follows a set routine, using prompts consistently throughout the book. Questions are fewer in number, inquiring into purpose, motives, and acts of main characters. Emphasis is on critical reading through higher-level questions and encouragement of prediction making
  • Language Arts: Integrating reading, writing, listening, and speaking at each grade level in promoted
  • Management: Provides teachers with goals and objectives along with teaching plans and assessment tools, all for documenting individual students and class progress
  • Assessment: Teachers are given numerous types of formal and informal assessment options
  • Differentiation: Differentiating instruction in the classroom and intervening for students who need further support, this is also known as RTI where different interventions are provided depending on how much support a student needs

Lesson Framework of a Lesson in a Basal Reading Program

  • Motivation and Background Building
  • Guided Reading (Silent and Oral)
  • Skill Development and Practice
  • Follow-Up and Enrichment

Modifying Basal Lessons

Teachers may prefer to follow the basic lesson framework, incorporating some alternatives into this structure. Modifying lessons personalizes reading instruction for teachers and students. Sometimes lessons may simply be rearranged; at other times, parts might be omitted or expanded.

Evaluating Reading Material for Instruction

The steps in this process should be done before deciding whether to consider new programs; it’s important to have this information as baseline data:

  • What is the overall philosophy of the program? How is reading discussed in the teacher’s guide?
  • What kind of learning environment does the program recommend? Is it child-centered? Teacher-centered? Literature-centered? Skills-based? Scientific?
  • Describe the emergent literacy program in detail. How does it provide for communication between school and home?
  • Describe the instructional program in detail. How are lessons structured to teach phonemic awareness, word identification, vocabulary, reading fluency, comprehension, writing?
  • Describe the literature of the program. Are the selections in unabridged form? Are different genres included? Is there a strong presence of nonfiction text? How culturally diverse is the literature?
  • How well does the program integrate across the curriculum? In what ways is assessment connected to daily instruction? What opportunities are there for connections between the various language arts?


Vacca, J. L., Vacca, R. T., & Gove, M. K. (2012). Reading and learning to read (8th ed.). New York: Longman.

Classroom Application

In this chapter, I learned techniques to modify basal reading lessons, the basics of these lessons, and how to evaluate these programs. There was even a nice checklist provided to evaluate reading programs.