Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey's: What to Use and What to Lose (Kindergarten)
Where to Start
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journey's 2014 has more resources than you could ever want or need. The most difficult struggle teachers have with it is knowing where to start. Take it a little at a time. If you try to use all of the resources the first week, you will set yourself up for failure.
Using my own experiences and the experiences of other teachers I have compiled a list of Journeys best and most used resources. Slowly, start with the resources below. Once you are comfortable with the series, you can explore ALL that Journeys has to offer.
I would highly recommend Journeys to any school or district that is looking for a reading series that encourages and develops students into high-order thinking.
Spelling, Vocabulary and Sight Word Cards
Journeys spelling, vocabulary and sight word cards are teacher friendly and easy to adapt into your current reading block.
Each card has teacher-friendly guides on the back to help you introduce the word to your students.
Journeys is extremely well organized. All spelling, vocabulary and sight words are seen in the student's leveled-readers, textbook and anchor texts. These cards are a great way to introduce the words at the beginning of the week. I also return to the cards throughout the week, to remind the students of the phonics skills and sight words that we are working on.
The cards are also very durable so they are great to give to students for centers and/or stations.
Leveled Readers, Read Alouds, Student Text
Before you dive into the dozens of teachers manuals and extra resources that come along with Journeys take a week to adjust to the set-up of the series. There is no reason to overwhelm yourself.
Start by just exploring the text within Journeys. The strongest component of Journeys is their quality of literature (of all genres). Start with the text.
The leveled readers come in long baskets labeled by levels (above level, below level, on level, ELL, vocabulary). I use the readers for my leveled-reading groups. In my classroom we meet in leveled-reading groups to use these readers once a week. Use your first week of Journeys to get used to the flow of the readers.
I would also begin the first week with the read alouds, the older grades at my school refer to them as the "anchor text". These books are always well received by the children. They are engaging, challenging and enjoyable.
Finally, I would introduce the student text books. These have grade-level text for the students.
The last thing I would introduce during the first week of Journeys is their student practice book which include practice pages for skills taught during the week.
The First Week
These resources will give you a good sense of what Journeys "is". This is especially helpful if you do not have a great deal of time to plan for Journeys before the beginning of the school year.
After the first week, I would begin to the use the other well-rounded resources provided by Journeys.
What to NOT use
While, these resources are ones that I use daily in my classroom, they are very overwhelming as you are adjusting to the new series. During the first week of introduction with the new series, put these resources aside.
The Online Component
Do not attempt the online components until you have mastered the other components. The online resources can be confusing and unreliable. Wait, until you have more time on your hands to delve into this component.
Not only does this series come with 6 HUGE teacher's manuals, it also comes with dozen of "mini-manuals". There are testing manuals, ELL manuals, level-reading manuals, vocabulary manuals, additional resources manuals, and the list goes on and on. Put them aside for the first week. Get to know the real material and work through these resources later.
Holy testing. There are so many different types of tests that come with Journeys. It took me 2 months to decide what tests are worth it and which ones are not. Wait a week before you touch the testing books.
This includes the very teacher-friendly "Grab N Go" box, teacher's toolbox, additional resource books, literacy centers, the vocabulary read alouds and all of the additional resources that come along with Journeys.