I have also felt frustrated with my reading program, but a
    colleague introduced me to an approach that I like that I've
    been using.

    I do mini-lessons and use books that are leveled. These are
    actually regular picture books, chapter books, etc. that have
    been leveled, and they are color coordinated with stickers to
    show the level. Most of my kids read dark blue or yellow
    "sticker" books. I also allow them to "IPICK" books.

    We read with a focus - currently inference. The students read
    silently for a specific time then aloud to themselves for a
    specific time (I have timers that ring so they know when to
    start reading aloud.) Then, they write a journal entry based
    on a prompt given. Then we share our entries - either student
    to student, student to teacher or student with the whole

    During their reading time, I have opportunities to conference
    one-on-one with the students. This is required at my school
    - that we do at least one reading conference per day. I can
    also choose to do guided reading at this time instead.

    It takes a while to get used to. Some teachers think the
    students reading aloud is too noisy, but it doesn't bother
    me. They are barely reading aloud. It's also good for their
    fluency. Also, I can just circulate around the room and get a
    snapshot of how the kids are reading.

    It takes time to get the kids used to the approach and build
    stamina. Once a week, I collect the students' reading
    journals and assess an entry that they pick (they draw a star
    next to the one they want me to read.) I usually write
    questions, notes, etc. in the margins of their entry to help
    focus their thinking.

    I rarely use basel readers, although I have occasionally used
    specific pieces out of our books that relate to something
    we're learning. I have not done a novel study since I
    started to this reading approach.

    I know there are a couple Grade 3 teachers in our school that
    do their reading program this way, with the Daily 5.

    I hope this helps!

    > I am hoping to get some specific advice to this question,
    > so here goes...
    > I am a second-year, fourth grade teacher and feel like I
    > have never gotten my reading program off the ground. In my
    > first year, I started the year very traditionally using the
    > basal and leveled readers in small groups. This was so
    > incredibly dry, however, that I soon switched over to
    > teaching a novel. When the novel was done, I didn't know
    > what to do and moved back into the basal. From there we
    > went back into another novel and to the basal and then
    > finally ended the year with more independent choice books.
    > Feeling the pressure of THE TEST, most of my third quarter
    > reading period was devoted to test prep via old state
    > tests. Come June, my test scores were good-93%.
    > This year, I started out with the idea that I would
    > implement the Sisters' Daily 5- an independent station sort
    > of approach. Well, soon enough I caved into the Testing
    > Demon again and decided to go back to more whole group
    > teaching because I didn't feel I could monitor the kids
    > well enough when I was doing mini-lessons and then
    > conferencing with self-selected reading. It felt fluffy
    > even though I implemented the book exactly as written. So,
    > back to the basals again and then to novels and back to
    > independent choice books/conferencing and then a novel and
    > then a few basal stories...
    > I am so at a loss for what a meaningful fourth grade
    > reading curriculum looks like. I really don't believe (no
    > offense intended) that a basal reader can be meaningful by
    > itself. At the same time, I don't believe it is feasible in
    > our test-driven society to leave all reading selections up
    > to the students.
    > Can someone (hopefully more than one person) please share a
    > detailed description of how you teach reading, what you
    > use, how you engage kids at this level?
    > THANKS SO MUCH! :)