I can't handle this... Open Court.

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by LucyS, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. LucyS

    LucyS Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2007

    Today was my third day, and we also had a staff meeting to discuss program expectations.

    First things first: My 1st graders are LOVELY. Aside from being very, very chatty, I'm not having any problems at all. If I can get them to HEAR me, they'll rush to do as I say and do a good job. They're academically very low, but they're such nice, well-behaved kids. They are basically like kindergarteners. They would be considered average if they were entering K instead of 1st.

    Here's the problem. We have to do Open Court. That means three 40 minute sections of Language Arts. Then one hour of Math. Then 30 minutes of independent work while I work with small groups.

    Look, I can't even get the kids to stay focused for reading a 5 minute story. Sit for 40 minutes at a time, at least four times a day? Nope! An hour of math? Ha!

    Are there even enough minutes in a day for all this?

    I just feel so helpless. The simple activities we did these past three days were okay, but like I said, the kids can't focus, don't understand that they need to work independently and not ask for help, they talk like crazy, and I don't see how I can teach them when they're like this!

    Looking at the lessons in the book is just making me cry. I can't do this! They can't do this! What kind of idiot came up with this nonsense? It's not appropriate for little kids to sit through 40 minutes of phonics activities, or to write for 40 minutes (today they wrote a simple sentence, most of them copying the one on the board, and they barely made it through it).

    I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, when I have to start teaching from the books!

    I'm new to teaching, and I have never had any Open Court training, so I feel like I'm about to drown. Does anyone have any advice on tackling this impossible task?

    :help:
     
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  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 30, 2007

    I'm sorry I can't help you!! We did Open Court, but it was only for spelling words and phonics. I know that their attention spans aren't worth a dime right now, but it will get better.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 30, 2007

    I'm sure you are not the only one feeling this way. What are the other teachers doing? Are there other teachers on your grade level?

    If this is a new program in your school, the publisher might send out a representative for training (usually free!!) Maybe you could get a group of like-minded techers and ask for a riningone afternoon, after school?

    Don't get too frustrated yet, don't give up. Take a positive proactive approach with this. Find some colleagues, plan together, and see about the training!!
     
  5. 3dawns

    3dawns Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2007

    I'm not familiar with Open Court, but is there any way that that 3x40 min block could be broken up with literacy centers or does it have to be whole-group instruction? You could offer 4 rotating centers at 15 minutes each to take up half the time...listening center, guided reading, independent reading, read the room, etcetera.

    Deep breaths...it is sure to get better.

    Dawn
     
  6. LucyS

    LucyS Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2007

    It actually went well today! They loved their workbooks... go figure.

    I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Their attention did wander, but I was expecting a nightmare and luckily that didn't happen.

    I think I'll be okay.... Deep breaths.... I need to quit panicking before actually trying something out, I guess. It's just hard to keep that in mind when everything is new to me.
     
  7. kidatheart

    kidatheart Habitué

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    Aug 30, 2007

    Does the 40 minutes have to be all at once or is it 40 minutes per day? based on the immaturity of your kids, you may want to work for 10 minutes, break, work for 10 minutes, break...etc

    As you go along, you should be able to increase the time between the breaks in 5 minute increments. Also, have a signal that they have to come to attention and practice it. I like the little bell I had with first grade. I told them that when they hear the bell, they have to freeze and look at me. Once we got that procedure in place, after much practicing, it made life much easier.
     
  8. socaldisneygal

    socaldisneygal Rookie

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    Aug 30, 2007

    I don't know much about open court, it is used at our elementary schools, but as with any intervention program, learn to love it, if you aren't enjoying the lesson your kids will pick up on it. There are proably a lot of forums about open court where you could get some support.
     
  9. loves2teach

    loves2teach Enthusiast

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    Aug 31, 2007

    From what I have heard- Open Court is VERY scripted, and I think it is supposed to be followed exactly. So I don't think the OP can change the time.
     
  10. newkteacher

    newkteacher Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2007

    I was required to use open court last year while teaching kindergarten. It is very scripted and if the op is under a reading grant program it has to be followed to the letter. I also did not care for the program.
     
  11. Chokita

    Chokita Comrade

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    Sep 4, 2007

    Are you in CA? Over here you must go to 5 day Open Court training! Ask an administrator at your school to send you to a training like that.
     
  12. LucyS

    LucyS Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2007

    I am in CA but I was hired just before the start of the year and missed the training, so all they gave me was training videos. That didn't help at all.
     
  13. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Sep 5, 2007

    I use Open Court and I love it! I taught Open Court in first grade, and it is one of the best programs around for phonics. First thing to remember- the teachers editions are HUGE and can be very overwhelming. Focus on the basics (sound/spelling cards, blending, decodable books, dictation, and listening comprehension. ) I also work in a school where the students are very low, and I've seen it work. Remember that at this point in the year, they are like Kindergarteners. I am very familiar with Open Court so feel free to PM me with any questions or advise.
     
  14. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Sep 10, 2007

    ditto...and make sure you don't skip anything unless you get approval by principal or grade level captain

    they expect to have it all done, red blue green...and workbooks

    get a 4,5 or 6 grader to help you with those...

    open court and saxon math has way too much stuff to put together!!!
     
  15. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    they sent me to weeklong training (paid me a year later for it!)

    you really need that...I would keep bugging them about it...

    each level is its own beast!

    you really have to experience it

    do you have a mentor or grade level captain/coach that can give you mini workshop??
     
  16. MissTexas

    MissTexas Rookie

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    Sep 19, 2007

    My school just adopted open court and this is our first year with the new cirruculum. Its hard for the kids to sit through, but they will slowly get used to the process. We start off whole group on the carpet, break up for phonics skills and dication at their desks, back to the carpet for decodable book reading, back to their desks for vocabulary, and back to the carpet for the read and response (comprehension) and writing ideas. So the movement is good for them!
     
  17. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Sep 22, 2007

    I would suggest breaking up into even smaller increments. They cannot do it for 40 minutes at a time. If i were you I would somehow split that into 3 sections of time or even more if need be.
     
  18. Thespis

    Thespis Rookie

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    Sep 23, 2007

    We've been inundated the past few years with "differentiation". It makes perfect sense to address the individual learning styles and needs of individual students.
    I can't believe that schools are still expecting every child to learn the same way from a scripted lesson plan. What do you do when a child doesn't get it? If you can't deviate from the plan or schedule, how does that child get individual help?
     
  19. BB0211

    BB0211 Companion

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    Sep 25, 2007

    Do you have to do solid block hours? I would break the activities into smaller blocks of time. (Do first 10 minutes sitting) then have the stuents try the activity with a small group for ten,,,then stop the class and teach 15 more minutes....then take a bathroom break type of thing....
     
  20. LakeSophie

    LakeSophie Comrade

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    Sep 26, 2007

    My kids have a tough time concentrating for a long time too. I move them around the room alot during the sections. Warmup things may be at the rug, phonemic awareness is standing by desk, blending is sitting at desk, dictation is also sitting. The reading section preview is at their desks, the actual reading is on the rug, any questions are done at their desks. We move a lot & I don't stay on one area long.. we just keep trucking. There is a lot of repeating, so I don't worry if a few kids don't get it today, they always have tomorrow to figure it out!

    Our writing time is broken up to a grammar time, a writing time, and then a sharing time. I don't follow the blue section, I tend to do more of a writer's workshop for that.

    For independent time at this point in the year, it may last no more than 10-15 mins. They even say that it doesn't have to be very long at the start of the year (look in the back in the index, it does tell you HOW to do much of the teaching.) We work up to a longer time. Make them into centers if they can't sit still for a long time. Take some freedom with it if you are allowed to. I hope this helped some.
     
  21. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Oct 7, 2007

    We do Open Court too. Luckily all we are committed to do is the green section and we dont have to do it everyday. We can supplement with other things that are working. We hate it. This is our last year before we adopt something new (I hope we do) I hate all the repetitiveness of everything and so do the kids. I mean how many times can we read Hickory Dickory Dock.
     
  22. frodolass

    frodolass Comrade

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    Oct 7, 2007

  23. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    And then we can't figure out why test scores don't go up...

    I can see making scripting available, and I can see a first-year teacher being glad of the framework, but I so don't see making every single move mandatory.
     
  24. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I have to admit I don't know anything at all about Open Court, but I don't understand why as teachers we go to get our degree, and then are handed a curriculum that has to be followed exactly to the letter, with all the proper scripting... I didn't go to school for five years to have some idiot tell me exactly how and what to teach.
     
  25. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Oct 7, 2007

    Okay- I've stayed away from this thread for as long as I could, but i have to add my two cents. Here's a girl who loves semi-scripted programs! (Open Court is not technically scripted) As one who has used the curriculum, I see the need for having a program that has a framework. Now, I'm not saying that every little piece is good- and trust me, I remember doing Hickory Dickory dock for three day! But the green section is very beneficial if followed in its entirety. For example, most new teachers do not know much about the phonological continuum, or the best sequential order to teach letter sounds. Not because they are not knowledgeable in teaching, just that most teacher prep programs do not go into detail about how to teach reading. Having a core program makes sure that these important skills are being taught in the correct sequence, and with the correct number of repetitions. Teaching is hard- there is no doubt about it. It is double hard to devise your own curriculum, and very hard to manage if everyone in the building is doing their own thing. And going through training- from the kinder scope and sequence to third grade- I see how the pieces fit together for all kids in various grade levels- not just one grade.
    Keep in mind that there is no one "magic" program that meets all standards, requirement, etc. Just give it a chance and see what benefits it has. ( that goes for any program - not just OCR)
    Signed- The Open Court Police
     

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