“Boxed Readings”

srabox

The other odd addition to our reading instruction in the 7th grade was a box of color coded sheets with short readings printed on them. They resembled the picture shown above, though ours were for a higher grade level than the illustration. You took a sheet from the box, read it, answered the questions, graded yourself, wrote down your score and went on to the next sheet. The idea was to gradually improve your reading comprehension.

Sadly, the selections were as dull as those early Dick and Jane stories I had endured in 1st grade. I imagine that our principal had fallen for the advertising from McGraw Hill, publishers of these SRA Reading Laboratory boxes. I went to the McGraw Hill web site and see that they still sell updated versions of the same thing. Apparently having children read on their own in these truncated bits frees the teacher to help other kids. It might be a great marketing ploy, but it is a waste of kids’ time. We were better served in other grades by being able to read full length books once we were finished with our other assignments.

Our grade school had a rich library and we went to it frequently. While I had the ambition to read every book there(I was a nerd even in those days!), it never happened. The savvy librarian kept buying new books! And every one was more interesting than anything in that box.

29 thoughts on ““Boxed Readings”

  1. Seems to be another example of the rule that you never learn things through exercises, you learn them by doing them, be it reading, foreign languages, programming, music, everything.

  2. I had a couple of teachers who read to us, and would leave us each day with a “cliffhanger.” Copies of the books they were reading were in the library, and the teachers didn’t mind if a student checked out the books because they couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

  3. We had both SRA and LRA. Like you said, a huge waste of time. In our class, we had to raise our hands and have a teacher check over our answer sheet to make sure we were accurate before we were allowed to take the next card. In third grade, I sat for three days with my hand up waiting for the teacher to come over to me. He alternately read at his desk or helped every other student but me. I sat like that just to see how long it took him to notice. I don’t feel SRA brought out the best in either students or teachers.

    1. I don’t know why we got to grade ourselves. I guess it was one less thing for the teacher to do. I hope you didn’t have that kind of wait with your hand up for the lavatory!

  4. Oh my gosh, Elizabeth. I haven’t thought of SRA boxed sets in forever. When I was studying to become a teacher, one of the classrooms I worked in was using this kit. That was more than thirty-five years ago, and I’m glad they went by the wayside. I taught thirty-one years in elementary school before retiring three years ago. Any educator knows that most kids are drawn to books (not to mention book covers) and not to boxed kits. Many children want to check out books that are five years over their level based on an interesting cover.

    1. The whole idea of reading levels is kind of silly. When a kid wants to learn something, it is amazing what they will read. My grandson who is not an avid reader will devour anything about cars.

  5. We had the exact same reading materials here in Australia but only up to the 6th grade which is the end of our primary years.
    Then High school started & we could pick our own books from the school library.
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

  6. Oh. My. Goodness. I had SRA readings in the 4th grade! I remember liking the ability to advance to the next color; but I think my teacher just wanted us to be working on something independently so she wouldn’t have to teach at all!

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