A Kindergarten Teacher's Review of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Journeys
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Journeys 2014 was released last year. Read my review on the series and how it implements the Common Core Standards.
Miss Megan :)
I will rate each of my categories with numerals 0-5. With 0 being unusable and 5 being a strong component to our reading curriculum and learning experience.
Ordering the Series
Ordering the series was a head ache for both our teachers and our administrators. Many products were backordered or missing. Students were missing textbooks and teachers were missing resources; it was a true mess. It took more than a semester to get all the materials we needed.Our school representative from Journeys was not helpful.
Ordering Rating: 0
Quality of Literature
One of Journeys strongest assets is it's quality of literature. The text is engaging. It is well liked by teachers AND students. The characters are relatable and interesting.
Quality of Literature Rating: 5
Quality of Non-Fiction Text
A vast majority of Journeys is Non-fiction, which is exactly what we wanted for our Common Core Reading Series. The non-fiction text is interesting and engaging. In addition, each topic is created around a non-fiction "essential question". For example one of our essential questions was "What do different animals do in different seasons?". The children love exploring the essential questions.
Quality of Non-Fiction Text Rating: 5
Some teachers may say Journeys is overwhelming. They are right, there is a great deal of content in Journeys. However, I find it to be very teacher friendly. The set-up is easy to use and I find that I can implement it into my classroom with ease.
Teacher Friendliness Rating: 5
Alphafriends are objects shaped like the letters of the alphabet. They are named with the same beginning letter as the beginning letter of the object. For example, Andy Apple.
Journeys comes with Alphafriend cards and an Alphafriend CD. Each alphafriend sings a song filled with words with it's beginning letter.
It sounds hokey and silly but the children LOVE the alphafriends. It is a cute and fun way to introduce phonemic awareness.
Alphafriend Rating: 5
The most common complaint from teachers at my school is the access to the online resources. Although it has a variety of great resources, the site often crashes. The teachers struggle to access the online resources that they want to use.
One day an online resource will work, and then when you go to use the resource with your students the resource won't load.
In addition, you need to purchase some of the online resources in addition to the bundle your school purchased. If you want the online leveled-readers, you need to pay an additional fee. These hidden fees are a frustration to our teachers and administration.
Online Component Rating: 1
Journeys is filled with many different types of assessment. There are unit assessments, benchmark assessments, observational assessments and online assessment. The unit test are very lengthy.
Our kindergarten classrooms have found success with the progress-monitoring tests. They are given to each child one-on-one weekly. Luckily, this year we have small classes sizes so we are able to do this.
Assessment Rating: 4
Common Core Standards
I was part of our school's reading adoption team. I piloted 3 different reading curriculums (National Geographic, Pearson's Reading Street, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Journeys).
Our team found Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to be the most aligned with the common core standards. It requires children to use higher ordered thinking. Journeys is very challenging for the students. We found some of the other reading series to be "watered down".
Common Core Standards Rating: 5
My absolute favorite part about Journeys is their level-readers and level reading group lesson plans :). Like many other series there is an ELL, Above Level, Below Level, and On Level tier.
However, what sets this series apart from others is its connections between the levels. For each topic ALL leveled readers (ELL, AL, BL, and OL) have the SAME reading strategy, reading skill, sight words, genre, and coincide with the essential question for the week. We were so thrilled to find a series that meets the Common Core State standards for all of our learners.
Journeys comes with many additional resources to help teacher differentiate in their classroom.
Differentiation Rating: 5
Overall, I very much enjoy Journeys. There are going to be missing gaps in every reading curriculum out there. I use Journeys as a guide and supplement the missing gaps with my own materials. I find Journeys be the strongest reading series available at this time.
Overall Rating of Series
Please ask me any questions you might have about Journeys in the comment section. Also feel free to share your own experiences.