Main concerns about English learning programs that would have prevented you from using GrapeSEED?
The main concern that we had about implementing a program like GrapeSEED was time. I had 7 classes to service, and I needed to see them every day for 45 minutes to make the program successful. It took quite a bit of rearranging of schedules, but we were able to accomplish this.
Other teachers have also been dealing with time constraints, so I have been taking extra measures to make sure the children get their GrapeSEED lessons. I have compensated by using the packs and books myself in the class on occasion as a "special" day that the kids really enjoy.
Specific benefits that you and your students have experienced as a result of adopting GrapeSEED?
The children are more conscious of the language that they use. They are aware of plurals and how to use them and contractions. We have also done some extensions on items I found were lacking in the children's experiences. I am right now on Unit 4, and I realized that the students had no clue as to the names of baby animals, so I have worked that into the teaching of the Unit. I often add to the vocabulary. We have worked on rhyming words as well as antonyms, which many of the classes are teaching. The children are enjoying what they are doing and are learning without realizing that they are learning. They are very eager to be chosen to read poems out loud, and depending on the grade and class, I have adjusted the comprehension questions for the stories, as well as making the letters and words and punctuation to find in the poems more difficult.
The lowest grade I work with is kindergarten, and I have found that the students are able to expand their vocabulary and the understanding of the words that they are using. They are also getting background in other subjects like science (planting seeds, etc.) and social studies (country/city, etc.) and are more aware of the world around them. They are understanding why to use plurals, and I have found the students are better at using "nice things to say" and speaking back and forth in conversation.
Specific aspects (or features) of GrapeSEED you like the most?
The children really enjoy the GrapeSEED experience and love coming to class. In fact, the second graders in my building wish that they could have it as well, and we have even used it as a reward system for children in that grade, where they can earn time in GrapeSEED.
The children really enjoy the take-home student materials. To allow them sufficient practice and repetition, the teachers and I are doing everything we can to make sure they get time to use them in school.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I enjoy teaching the GrapeSEED program, and I find that the students benefit greatly. They also enjoy the songs and movements and poems. They very much feel accomplished that they can "read" many of the stories when given the small books themselves. I have found GrapeSEED to be a way to make learning fun....students are learning the components of language and speaking, while enjoying themselves while doing it. It is a great program and with the gains we have seen in the students, we will be using it next year.