Does anyone else think Open Court sound spelling cards are poorly concieved?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by Sarge, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Apr 21, 2007

    43 sounds.
    Nearly 90 ways to spell them.
    A picture to represent each sound, with the different spellings under the picture.

    So far, so good.

    But whoever was responsible for the choice of images must have been completely out of touch with how young children learn.

    First let's look at the short vowels.

    Lamb=/a/
    Hen=/e/
    Pig=/i/
    Fox=/o/
    Tug (boat) =/u/

    I understand the thinking behind the use of images that have the vowel as the medial sound because that's where they most often occur. However, I don't think it helps the kids who are actually having trouble remembering the sounds.

    But the problem is that in their efforts to achieve onomotopeadic numonic devices - "Pam the Lamb says /a/ /a/ /a/,"Pickles the pig says /i/ /i/ /i/ when she giggles" - they have ended up using images that are not instantly recognizable for the children.

    So to the kids, the "Tug" that reprsents /u/ is a "boat" which has nothing to do with the letter U. Sure, it goes /u/ /u/ /u/, but any advantages to that memory aid are lost when the child has to remember a new vocabulary word in order to understand the card which is supposed to help in learning to read.

    The other vowel card which is poorly chosen is the Pig card. To many children who are English language learners or have speech issues, a short /i/ followed by the letter g makes more of a long e sound - "Peeg" "deeg" 'beeg" etc.

    Aside from the vowels, there are many other poorly chosen cards. One of my least favorite is the "hound" for the letter /h/ sound. I teach in northern California. To kids here, a dog is a dog. The word hound is entirely unfamiliar to them. Most of them think of Elvis Presley rather than any sort of canine when they hear the word. Once again, a new vocabulary word is required. Considering that I have stop and think when I teach the card, something is wrong.

    There are two cards that represent the /k/ sound. Both are identical images of a camera. This does nothing to help kids distinguish between the situations when you use the letter k to make the /k/ sound and when you use the letter c.

    Then there's the "nose" card to represent the /n/ sound. It's represented by a picture of a horse. It used to be reprsented by a picture of a guy with a big huge nose named Norman Newsome who had a cold. For some unknown reason, (perhaps they were affraid of offending people with freakishly large noses), they changed it to a picture of a horse with a cold (it has snot dripping out of it). The worst part is that they did not change the poem at all. It's still about Norman Newsome. It's almost as if the SRA Open Court people are going out of their way to confuse kids.

    Moving on, we have a thimble that represents the /th/ sound. That's a slight improvement over "thong" (as in footwear known today as flip flops) which probably caused too much commotion in classrooms near warm coastal areas. But they went from one antiquated term to another. Unless you have first graders in your class over the age of 40 or avid Monopoly players, they probably don't know what a thimble is. Once again, a new vocabulary word must be taught in order to make a memory device work.

    A few more:

    The /kw/ sound is represented by ducks. They call them "quacking ducks" so that makes it OK I guess.

    The /ow/ sound is represented by a cow, which makes sense. But the cow is being stung by a bee. And what does she say? Why she says "ow!" Every year, my students have a lot of fun point out to me that cows don't say "ow" they say "moo."

    And finally, a very important r-controlled vowel is missing. There is no card that represents the /or/ sound. Of course, knowing Open Court, they'd probably use a picture of a fishbowl.
     
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  3. sevenplus

    sevenplus Connoisseur

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    Apr 21, 2007

    Well, I don't use Open Court, but you've obviously put a lot of thought into this! :) I agree entirely that A LOT of curriculum materials are poorly conceived, which is why I hate being told that I HAVE to use a particular thing in my classroom.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Apr 21, 2007

    AMEN!!! I teach Open Court for kinder and I 100% agree with everything you said. Actually, my mentor and I were just taking about this. She teaches 1 grade and has some of the same issues as you. She says that she makes it work and has fun with the program. I, on the other hand, HATE those sound cards. I taught HM for kinder and those cards made much more sense. A was andy apple, E was edna elephant, and so on.

    I'm with you. When I first started teaching Open Court, I was constantly, and still do, get a lot of them mixed up. When I see the picture for the pig, I keep saying /p/ /p/ when it's supposed to be /i/. FOr the horse, I'll say /h/. So, I'm confused, and so are my poor kids.
     
  5. sllecompte

    sllecompte Rookie

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    Apr 21, 2007

    I thought the nose card was a picture of an aardvark or something. I have the 2000 edition. I have the "thing" card for /th/. The one that gets me is the "gong" card for /ng/-as if my students know what that is. I agree that there should be a card for /or/-maybe corn. The short vowels are certainly confusing with the sound in the middle. The /oi/ is a picture of a toy on a coil. I just say "toy." I mean when do they ever really see a coil. We are up for reading adoption next year. There are only eight schools in the district that currently use this series. I don't feel that it will be chosen again.
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Apr 22, 2007

    I teach second grade. I'm supposed to use the sound cards but I leave them in the drawer.
     
  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Apr 22, 2007

    It is for grades 4-6. The problem is that the /ar/ sound is a gargling armadillo. Even I don't really know the difference between the two animals.

    I'm not even sure if /ng/ needs it's own card. To me, it almost makes it as consonant blend.

    I was thinking "horn." That goes "or!" "or!" "or!"

    I basically like the way the program works, I just think some major flaws are in it, like someone was in a hurry or had a deadline when they were putting it together.
     
  8. sllecompte

    sllecompte Rookie

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    Apr 23, 2007

    I wasn't aware that sound cards were still used for grades 4-6. Although I live very close to Texas, my students didn't know what an armadillo was. They are inner city and it is unlikely you would encounter one at night there. I feel that Open Court will make significant changes to their program before the adoption. With so much research on phonemic awareness and leveled reading, I am hoping to see more of these elements within the series. Some of the decodable books get too hard for my students, especially after Book 40. I also wish that the program would teach the sight words at a different pace-perhaps in sequence with Frye or Dolch. I teach first grade and this is a huge part of reading. What kind of flaws do you see in the upper grades?
     
  9. TeacherGrl7

    TeacherGrl7 Devotee

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    Apr 29, 2007

    Oh my goodness!!!! I am SO glad other people don't like the sound cards!!! I'm forced to use them with my prekinders and even from my level they are awful. My kids are not learning the spelling, only individual letter sounds. I have the same horrible pictures on the cards.

    My little ones only learn long vowel sounds and the pictures on the vowels are just the letters....stretched out to look long. They don't get it, there is no visual! Then as we go through the year we do one card per week. So many of the pictures are horrid! I ran into the same problem with the C and K card. My little ones just did not get it. I was so frustrated with it that I printed out a picture of a kangaroo and taped it on top of the camera. And my kids thought that the hound was a dog too- we are in New York. Hounds here? Nope. We just did Q a few weeks ago and turned the card over to see a picture of "Quaking Ducks." After explaining it to them, the kids got it....temporarily. But ask them today, 2 weeks later, what is on that Q card and they will all tell you it's a duck. I spend so much time explaining the pictures and finding different ones, it's not worth it to use them. If we have to stop and think about how to explain a material that is supposed to be helping them learn, isn't something wrong?? I have already told my director that the cards are more trouble for the kids than they are worth and that I do not want to use them again next year.

    I also find that Open Court seriously underestimates the abilities of my kids in certain areas (for example, it is April and the curriculum is just now suggesting that I "help" the kids to trace their names....they have all been writing their names without help since October. And yet, they are working on other skills that are way over their heads and they are not grasping. There is so much I would like to change about it, if only I had the choice.
     
  10. Ms.T

    Ms.T Comrade

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    Apr 29, 2007

    I HATE Open Court! (Not just the cards!) I agree with you Sarge!
     
  11. Ms. K.

    Ms. K. Guest

    Jan 6, 2018

    I know this thread is old but it is still relevant to me. Our school is having conversations about bringing back Open Court Phonics. We taught it years ago. I was a first grade teacher at the time. I strongly agree with OC's belief in systematic explicit phonics instruction, and blending routines, but I have a big problem with their sound/spelling cards. I think they are unnecessarily confusing.

    I ALMOST understand the short vowel cards having pictures representing the sound in the medial position, but after teaching kindergarten and first grade for 20+ years, I really don't think it is necessary. Other examples of confusing pictures are the dog on the h card, and the horse on the n card. And...Isn't the camera on the k card is a bad representation for spelling?

    I totally agree with Sarge-- It is so over-thought that it has crossed the line of common sense. I currently teach TK and Kinder and have a substantial population of English Language Learners. I believe the sound cards are particularly confusing to them and to their parents. In addition, the pictures are very out of sink with the majority of ABC trade books. I currently use the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Alphafriends sound/spelling cards and strongly prefer them. (Although they do not have the capital letters on them--AGH!)

    Sound cards are VERY important for teaching beginning reading in Kindergarten. Why make it more confusing than it needs to be? Open Court may well be a superior reading program but the sound/spelling card are so bad, they are a deal breaker for me. I will vote against Open Court and in favor of HM at my school and it kills me to do so. I hope Open Court rethinks those cards.
     

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