(submitted to an "innovation in Education" discussion on http://www.linkedin.com)
Being a Spec Ed teacher gave me considerable freedom here in Canada, but I was only able to be truly innovative when I left my own bureaucratic Board-and-Union system and went to China to set up a program for a small private school. What a wonderful experience I had with kids and parents there! (What a terrible time I had working for a deceitful Canadian entrepreneur who had no background in education!).
I was able to be innovative by "going backward" to materials and thinking that will immediately be classified as "old" on this thread. My rationale was soundly based on the work of Dr. Nonie Lesaux of Harvard (2003), the thinking of Sally Shaywitz (et al), on very recent fMRI studies, and on my own long multi-country experiences. I used SRA Reading Lab material as the core of the skills program, building an active, "FUN", and all-inclusive set of dynamics around it. Using the SRA continuum made it possible to establish the level at which the student started and the level which s/he attained. Our averaged measurable gain in just seven months, was 9.9 months - including the results of even the most reticent learner. (These were Nationalist Chinese children. Our dynamics assured the participation of EVERY child. Significant progress for all in all langauge areas - including oral presentation and English writing.)
Many colleagues dismiss using "something out of the 60's"; then they trot off to teach to the Dolch list - which dates to 1932!
I have not put all details on-line, but much of the dynamics appears in the "Schooling" forum of the Beijing Kids magazine: http://www.beijing-kids.com/forum/schooling. I contribute there at the request of editors and have had excellent feedback. Predictably, my ideas have met with no interest at all in my own country.
I consider SRA to be the most thorough treatment available of the English language - comprehension at ALL levels, realistic phonetics (at least in the older kits), vocabulary in context, GRAMMAR, and even literary terms. Absolutely effective for ESL students. It is in use in most International Schools. (NOT a feasible program in isolation, though...)
p.s. The SRA 2 level (Grades 2-6) is now accessible on-line.
p.p.s. SRA are not paying me a commission...
p.p.p.s. ...They probably should...