Reading Mastery Signatures Series

Reading Mastery is a researched based reading program, as are all the Direct Instruction Programs.  It helps every student master the decoding process by approaching reading instruction in a direct, clear, and straightforward fashion.  Once students have mastered decoding, they quickly learn to apply thinking skills and strategies to comprehend what they’ve read.

In 2011, we updated our program to the Reading Mastery Signature Series Edition.

In Mid – Late October, Kindergarten students are tested to determine starting points in Signature K.

Signatures K = Grades K-1

Basic decoding and comprehension skills are taught.  Decoding is taught through an explicit phonics method that stresses letter sounds and blending. A special reading alphabet is utilized to minimize letter confusion for the novice reader.  Integrated phonic instruction helps beginning readers explore different sounds, begin to sound out words, and use these words immediately to read stories.  Strong decoding skills are then combined with comprehension strategies to begin building a foundation for successful independent reading.

Signatures 1 = Grades 1-2

The special reading alphabet is replaced with traditional orthography.  Accuracy and fluency, which leads to automatic recall, are emphasized.  Students learn strategies for decoding difficult words and answering interpretive comprehension questions.  Basic reasoning skills such as drawing conclusions, applying rules, and completing deductions are emphasized as systematic phonics and decoding instructions are phased out.

Transitions 1-2 = Follows the completion of Signature 1.  The goal is to transition students from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.”

Signatures 2 = Grades 2-3

Reasoning and reference skills are emphasized.  The focus shifts from decoding skills to the development of higher-level comprehension skills, building background knowledge, metacognition and schema strategies in the content areas.  Students in Signatures 2 learn how to apply rules in a variety of contexts, and how to interpret maps, graphs, and time-lines.  The program also introduces a number of complex sentence forms and a range of vocabulary activities.  Through reading selections and activities, which accompany each lesson, students learn how to infer, predict, conclude, and most importantly, how to use these skills in reading comprehension and writing with stress on cross-curricular contact.

Signatures 3 = Grades 3-4

Problem solving skills and reading in the content area are emphasized.  Lessons continue to focus on the development of complex comprehension strategies. The information presented then becomes a base from which students increase their schema about the world and apply that knowledge in meaningful contexts.  Students in this level evaluate problems and solutions, learn facts about the realistic fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction selections written especially for this program.  Classic and modern literatures are incorporated throughout the lessons.

Signatures 4 = Grades 4-5

Literacy analysis and extended writing are emphasized with a focus on building students’ appreciation and understanding of literature.  Literacy language and analysis, reasoning strategies, and extended writing are incorporated with story selections.  Students learn to think critically, analyze character, plot, theme, and setting, develop outlines, and interpret reference materials.  Students write, revise, and share their work through daily writing activities with focus on topics related to the reading selections, and infer main idea and word meaning from context.  The reading selections comprise a wide range of classic and modern literature.  Students gain insight into a variety of literary strategies through reading selections that include narrative stories, biographies, poetry, plays, full-length novels, and expository writing selections.

 Signatures 5 = Grade 5

Literary language, reasoning strategies, and extended writing are the focus.  Emphasis is placed on the interpretation of complex sentence forms, figurative language, literary irony, the identification of contradictions, and the rebuttals of faulty arguments.  The reading selections include novels, short stories, poems, factual articles, biographies, and plays. Daily written assignments focus on topics related to the reading selections and build writing skills as students edit and share their original stories and poems.

Students that complete the Signatures programs prior to the end of their 5th grade year will be involved in a Post-DI Novel Study program.  Novels available for this class are (but not limited to):

Across 5 Aprils

Island of the Blue Dolphins

Bud, Not Buddy

A View from Saturday

Maniac Magee

Slave Dancer


Middle School Reading

In grades 6-8, the focus is on exposure to fiction, non-fiction, historical-fiction, and other forms of literary writings (such as narratives and expository forms).

 Reading 6 includes: (Depending on time, other units may be added)

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The story is told in the first person by Jim Hawkins, whose mother kept the Admiral Benbow Inn, and who shared in the adventures from start to finish. An old sea dog comes to this peaceful inn one day, apparently intending to finish his life there. He hires Jim to keep a watch out for other sailors, but despite all precautions, he is hunted out and served with the black spot that means death. Jim and his mother barely escape death when other pirates descend on the inn in search of the sea dog’s papers. Jim snatches up a packet of papers to square the sailor’s debt, when they were forced to retreat from the inn. The packet contains a map showing the location of the pirate Flint’s buried treasure, which Jim, Doctor Livesey, and Squire Trelawney determine to find. Fitting out a ship, they hire hands and set out on their adventure. Unfortunately, their crew includes one-legged Long John Silver, a pirate also in search of the treasure, and a number of his confederates. Jim, hidden in an apple barrel, overhears the plans of the crew to mutiny, and he warns his comrades. The battle between the pirates and Jim’s party is an exciting one, taking place both on the island and aboard ship. Jim escapes from the ship, discovers the marooned sailor, Ben Gunn, who has already found and cached the treasure, and finally the victors get safely aboard the ship with the treasure.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Number the Stars is about a girl named Annamarie that has a best friend, Ellen Rosen, that is Jewish. Where they live, in Copenhagen, the Nazis from Germany are trying to relocate the all the Jews. However, Annamarie and her family have to risk their lives to save Ellen and her family to keep them from being captured and relocated be the Nazis. They do end up saving them and many other Jews by helping them escape to Sweden by boat.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Corrie Ten Boom’s autobiography began with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ten Boom watch shop in Haarlem, Holland. The Ten Boom family was a highly respected one known for their deep religious faith and good will towards anyone who might need their help. This celebration took place in 1937 within the shadow of World War II and the rise of Nazism. However, the Dutch people believed that just as in World War I, their neutrality would be honored. Unfortunately, they could not know the evil and the horrors that come with it were just around the corner for them.

Speeches Unit

Evaluating and analyzing speeches from History.  Each genre has different steps for evaluating.  Students will study the following:

Informative Speeches:  (Chief Joseph, FDR’s declaration of war on Japan, Bush’s Operation Desert Storm)

Debate Speeches: (Kennedy/Nixon)

Special Occasion Speeches: (Lou Gehrig)

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Henry "Harry" Jekyll is a well-respected member of London society. In his personal life, he is pre-engaged to Muriel Carew, the daughter of a brigadier general. In his professional life, he is a medical doctor, scientist and academician. He theorizes that in each man is a good side and an evil side which can be separated into two. In doing so, the evil side can be controlled and the good side can live without worry, which in combination leads to the betterment of society. In his experiments, he uses himself as the subject to test his hypothesis. His evil side, who he coins Mr. Hyde, escapes into London and terrorizes Ivy Pierson. Jekyll, aware of Hyde's goings-on, decides to stop his experiments because of the suffering he has caused. What Jekyll is unaware of is how ingrained Hyde is in Jekyll's life.


Reading 7 includes: (Depending on time, other units may be added)

SQ4R Review Articles

This is a note-taking strategy that was introduced to 6th graders in Study Skills the previous school year.  7th grade students will implement the strategy throughout the school year with articles based on our unit study of the time.  Ex. = While studying The Diary of Anne Frank, the students use the strategy to take notes on an article about the Frank family.  The steps are: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Write and Review.

The Diary of Anne Frank (Playbook)

As Jews in German-occupied Holland, the Frank family fears for their lives. When Anne’s sister, Margot, is called to appear before the authorities, which would almost surely mean she was being sent to a concentration camp, Anne and her family go into hiding. They move into a little section of Anne's father's office building that is walled off and hidden behind a swinging bookcase.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

Tom Sawyer is a troublemaker. After Tom gets in trouble, he is ordered by Aunt Polly, with whom he lives, to whitewash their fence. When his friends see him painting the fence, Tom pretends like he loves the chore to make his friends jealous. They beg him to let them help. This is a prime example of the type of trouble Tom Sawyer is always getting into. Part of the novel is devoted to Tom's romance with Becky Thatcher, a new girl in town. They like each other, but Becky is hurt when she finds out that Tom liked someone else before her. Eventually, he takes the blame for a book she ruined, making her like him again. Tom is always getting into trouble, usually with his friend, Huckleberry Finn. Together they sneak out to a graveyard at night, where they witness Injun Joe murder Dr. Robinson.

Poetry Unit

Students analyze and write poetry.  This unit focuses on 6 genres: Narrative, Ballads, Lyrics, Sonnets, Haikus and Limericks.  Students learn about the three main areas of poetry: foundation, meaning and the art of reading aloud.  Content, style, structure and imagery help students to better understand poems studied in class as well as aid them in writing their own poems.  At the conclusion of this unit, the 7th graders participate in a Poetry Coffee House (mandatory program) in which families are invited to come and listen to facts learned in class, poems studied, and students’ creations! 

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Buck, a huge four-year-old half-Saint Bernard and half-Scottish shepherd dog, is living a life of civilized ease in California's Santa Clara Valley in the home of Judge Miller. It seems to be the best of all possible worlds, for Buck is the most prized animal that the judge owns. Around this time, however, gold is discovered in the great North, and large dogs suddenly become tremendously valuable because these types of dogs are needed to haul the heavy sleds through the deep snow fields. Tragically, for Buck, one of the Judge's servants (an addicted gambler) steals Buck and sells him to a ring of thieves who are making a great deal of money by buying and selling dogs to northern traders. Buck's spirit, however, does not adapt as easily as do some of the other docile big dogs. Buck cannot tolerate being tied up and beaten. He fights against his cruel new master, but all of his efforts to escape are futile. Thus, Buck learns the new concept of "master," even though he learns it reluctantly. A man with a club is a master and must, at all costs, be obeyed.


Reading 8 includes: (Depending on time, other units may be added)

SQ4R Review Articles

This is a note-taking strategy that was introduced in 6th grade, practiced in 7th grade and used again in 8th grade.  Ex. = While studying The Giver, the students use this strategy to take notes on an article about Utopian societies.  The steps are: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Write and Review.

Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmund Rostand

In Paris, in the year 1640, a brilliant poet and swordsman named Cyrano de Bergerac finds himself deeply in love with his beautiful, intellectual cousin Roxane. Despite Cyrano’s brilliance and charisma, a shockingly large nose afflicts his appearance, and he considers himself too ugly even to risk telling Roxane his feelings. One night, Cyrano goes to the playhouse at the Hotel de Bourgogne to make trouble. He has forbidden the actor Montfleury to take the stage for one month, but Montfleury plans to perform in the night’s production of La Clorise, with Roxane in the audience. Also in the audience is a young, handsome nobleman named Christian, who confides in his friend Ligniere that he loves Roxane.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Jonas is a young boy who is nervous about the Ceremony of Twelve, where he will receive the Assignment that he will spend the rest of his life doing. Jonas often perceives flashes of “change” when he looks at an object; he does not realize that he is perceiving color, which disappears once the community goes over to “Sameness.” At the ceremony, Jonas is chosen to become the new Receiver, a prestigious Assignment that consists of keeping all of the old memories of the community from before the time of the Sameness.”

The Giver transmits memories to Jonas – memories of fear and joy, of happiness and despair. These memories are filled with colors and emotion, both of which are lacking in Jonas’s world. Jonas becomes very close with the Giver and frustrated with the world in which he lives.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist’s mother died shortly after giving birth to him in a workhouse.

At the age of nine, he went to live with an undertaker where he was cruelly treated. He ran away to London, where he became involved with a gang of child thieves controlled by the evil Fagin. After a street robbery went wrong, Oliver was cared for by the kindly Mr. Brownlow, but he soon ended up back in the grip of Fagin and his accomplice Bill Sikes. Oliver was accidentally shot while breaking into Maylie’s house and later recovered there, once again free of Fagin. However, Fagin and the mysterious Mr. Monks plotted to recapture him. Nancy, Sikes’s girlfriend, heard of the plot and told Rose Maylie. Upon discovering her ‘betrayal’, Sikes murdered Nancy. It turned out that Oliver was actually Monks’ half-brother and therefore entitled to a fortune from his father’s will, which had been deliberately destroyed. Monks had been trying to turn Oliver into a criminal to discredit him, thereby pocketing the entire inheritance. The truth came out in the end! Sikes was killed, Fagin hanged, and Oliver lived happily ever after.


World Literature

Studying fiction and nonfiction sections from around the world.