Main concerns about English learning programs that would have prevented you from adopting GrapeSEED?
My main concern was time. It was a lot to ask with everything else we had to teach. I was also skeptical about using it with my English speaking students. I knew it would be great for my English Language Learners (ELL) students, but I had concerns using the program with English speaking students. Could it help with comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and vocabulary? Could I use the program to teach print concept skills? I questioned this because I knew I had to use the program with fidelity, but I needed time to incorporate other skills for my students.
After adopting GrapeSEED, what have you found with regards to those concerns?
After adopting GrapeSEED, all my concerns went away. The class fit into my schedule, and it worked out nicely because I could incorporate all the skills I needed into each unit. The students became familiar with the stories and songs, and that helped with fluency and accuracy. I was able to practice print concepts skills using the materials. After I read a story, I could ask questions about the story, which helped students with their comprehension. It was great because all students felt included and confident because they were so familiar with the materials. If a quiet student didn’t get it right away, within a few weeks that student would be participating and volunteering to answer! It was great seeing my students improve their confidence and oral language using GrapeSEED.
Top 3 benefits and the features for you and for your students?
First, materials are organized and user friendly which really helps because, as teachers, we have so much on our plates already, it’s hard to organize and find the most useful materials for all students to learn from. Second, materials are versatile. You as the teacher, can mix and match stories, songs, shared readings, and action activities however you want. If you have a main focus for a day, you get to decide what order and what materials will be best to use for your focus. Third, it is very interactive. Students are reading, singing, and moving. They are excited, engaged, and want to do the activities. It makes life so much easier because they are learning and enjoying what they are doing.
How language development of kindergarten students compares with those who are not using GrapeSEED?
When we started GrapeSEED at the beginning of the year, it was really funny because some of my students who were non-readers would get out books during independent reading time and they would recite the GrapeSEED stories. The words and pictures on the books did not match the GrapeSEED materials, but the students learned the words and patterns for the GrapeSEED stories, so when I asked them to read independently –that is what they knew. It was really cool to see how oral language develops and hear them remembering the materials. Even now, towards the end of the year when we are working on vocabulary and sentence structure, students will use sentences from GrapeSEED. I even have students writing about GrapeSEED stories or adding their own twist to a GrapeSEED story. All of my students use the student material packets everyday in a listening center, so even the students that aren’t in a GrapeSEED group can still learn the stories, songs, and activities.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I have really enjoyed teaching GrapeSEED. It is not only fun for the students, but it is fun for me as well. I like how it is very interactive and I can fit in all the skills that I need to teach during GrapeSEED time. I can also use the materials for intervention and enrichment by adding extension activities. I can incorporate GrapeSEED in other subject areas, which makes the students feel confident because it is something they know. Each unit has a theme, which helps keep the students interested and learning new things! I can’t say enough positive things about GrapeSEED. I have seen great progress in our first year of using it, and I can’t wait to see what the years to come look like. I am expecting to see significant growth! I would recommend this program!