An Easier Way To Teach Open Court To Special Education Students, Part 1

If you were attracted to the title and are looking for an easier way to teach Open Court to Special ed. students, then you are in the right place. I am not an expert, by far, but I will write about techniques and strategies that I know and use. If they are any help to you, then use them. If not, throw them out. Whatever the case, Welcome!

I wrote this post after in response to  Mathew’s post a couple of days ago. After reading his post, I thought to myself that I needed to write about what I learned from the Special Ed. Open Court training at the end of the school year. It was a godsend. I was very happy to receive this information because it helped me to slow down. It seemed as if I was always rushing from one Open Court story to the next without feeling as if my students had properly  grasped the concepts.Now that I know how to structure my class, it’s a bit easier, but I have so much work to do. I am happy, in one way, to have more structure to my day, but (and there’s always a but), I am so overwhelmed. Last year, I managed to teach Open Court (in a bootleg kinda’ way), Touch Math, and a little, teeny-tiny bit of Science. This year, I have much more to do. My problem isn’t with what I have to teach. It’s how much I have to teach. I’m wondering how I’m going to fit it all in. I’m also wondering about how I’m going to plan it all. When am I going to find the time?

You see, Open Court is structured so that the first, second, and last stories are the most important ones. Consequently, per the information that I was given during the training, Special Ed. teachers are allowed to teach the first, second, and last stories of the program. However, the skills being taught in the other stories still need to be taught.

So, in order to comply with that, I looked at the very front of the Teacher’s Edition (T.E.) and typed up the skills that need to be taught for the whole unit into a chart to remind me of which skills need to be taught at what time.

I teach 3rd grade Open Court even though I have 2nd-5th grade. How?  During Open Court I send all of my 5th graders out to be mainstreamed. I’m working on getting my 4th graders and my lone 2nd grader mainstreamed. My 2nd graders’ behavior is really intense, so I don’t know who will really want to accept him. I know that they don’t have a choice because it’s the law, but I just want to make sure that he’s treated fairly. So, long story short, I take all my meetings with 3rd grade level, so that’s how I end teaching 3rd grade Open Court even though I have 4 separate grade levels.

Open Court teaching is on grade level, but Voyager, which is intervention, is below grade level. During that block of time, I am allowed to teach the children what they need to know, like the Sound Spelling cards, high frequency words & sight words, word families, and whatever else they need.

Whether I find the time or not, this is what I have to teach:

  • Open Court  in the morning and after recess (w/Social Studies thrown in for the last 20 minutes of OCR)
  • Voyager in the afternoon, which is an intervention program
  • Touch Math (It’s supposed to fit in after Intervention)
  • Science (F.O.S.S. kit) When it’s going to fit in, I still haven’t figured it out yet.

I am still revising my schedule as needed, but I will post it anyway.

Making A Difference In Your Own Way…

Many times I have heard people say that they made a difference by doing whatever it is that they do. I have to tell you that I thought that it was a load of hooey! After all, how could teaching someone how to play an instrument make a difference? or how could training someone to run a race change their lives.  Well, I found out that anyone can indeed make a difference by doing what it is that they do well.

I say this because I have been making a difference in the lives of my students by reading to them. I love reading. It is one of my favorite past times. I have a fair amount of childrens’ books (about 600 +), so no matter what the subject matter, I usually have a book that fits the situation.

Let’s go back to the beginning. From the first day that I assumed control of my classroom, I had a plan (which I will detail bit by bit) that I intended to carry out. I began by reading books to them. I was a little nervous because my students were very unruly, (heck, some of them still are). I do not believe that some of them had ever sat still for a story. So, I knew that I had to choose a great story in order to capture, pique, and maintain their interest.

I have already written about this book a couple of times. If you’ve ever read this book or have even heard of it, then you know why I love it. It is one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read in my life. In fact, I just wrote about it the other day. I bring it up again because I need to illustrate my point about making a difference. Because I piqued their interest with Thank You, Mr. Falker, they trusted my opinion on books and wanted to hear whatever it was that I brought to read to them. I rarely ever have a problem getting them to sit still for a story now.

Because I used my strengths of reading and writing, my students have now learned to love and appreciate books. They really love the Bob books. They got very excited when I told them that I purchased the second set of Bob books and that I was soon going to purchase the 3rd, 4th, & 5th sets.

I am happy that I did use what I knew to make a difference in my own way. Now when given a choice of anything, they will almost always choose a book. I am so happy that I have made a difference in their lives; even if it’s only a small difference.

Now you have to ask yourself what you have that can make a difference in the lives of your children and/or students. Now that you’ve answered the question and you know, ask yourself what you’re going to do about it.

Make a positive difference in the life of a child in whatever way you can; in your own way. And as always, here’s to continue success now and in the future.

I Don’t Belong Here!

Believe it or not that’s what one of my students told me. It was my student, Nu, who made the remark. He said that because he didn’t know that my class was a special education class.

“This is a special education class? he asked. “I don’t belong here,” he said.

“No, my dear sir you do not. You are in here because firstly you need a little extra help with your work. Secondly, you are in here because teachers are scared to have you in their class. They don’t know how you’re going to behave. They don’t know how to handle you. Furthermore, I don’t want you in my class. I’m not saying that in a bad way because I’m starting to enjoy having you in my class. But the simple fact is that you can get out of special ed. You are almost on grade level. You just need to work on behaving yourself and managing your own behavior. You know what to do, now you need to do it,” I told him.

“Now, what are you going to do to get out of my class?”

He replied very intelligently. We came up with a plan and will continue working on it. I will call his mother so that she can buy into it also. This is such a major victory. I know that the problem is not solved, but at least he sits in his seat and only interrupts the class about three times a day.

So, as always, here’s to continued success!