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We're very impressed by our local public school (Glenview Elementary) and considering it for our daughter for next Fall. Our question is about the Oakland Unified Open Court curriculum. On some accounts of open court, it seems uninspired and it seems to take up the majority of the day so there's not much room for other subjects (at least in the kindergarten). But others have defended it as a way to ensure that all children in the class learn the basics, and have suggested that good teachers are able to integrate it into their teaching styles without impeding the educational experience. I'm not familiar with other districts so I'm not even sure if such curriculum restrictions are unusual. We're interested in hearing experiences from parents and teachers who have experienced Open Court, in Oakland or elsewhere - are kids still inspired and able to receive a rich and varied educational experience? We'd also like to hear from parents and teachers with experiences in schools without open court, or who have experienced both settings. Are there any major differences in the nature of the educational experience? Thanks! anon
He is telling us he does not like school and does not want to go, because he dislikes all of the worksheets so much. This is a very smart kid who has all the pre-reading skills, and absolutely LOVES to be read to, and identifies letters and words in stories all of the time. But he hates having to do endless circling of things on worksheets, and he hates the (very uninspired) little booklets he is supposed to be ''reading.''
Frankly, I hate those booklets too -- they are all but worthless, no story involved at all. The teacher shares our frustration, but is required to do all of these things, and it does not leave enough time for many of the very imaginative and inspiring things she would otherwise be doing. We are frustrated enough that we are considering moving to private school.
In my opinion, Open Court works best with new teachers, who are
comforted by the fact that they can ''teach'' a class by simply
following the script, without having to plan or think much of anything
through. Good teachers are simply stifled. If they are particularly
good, they can ''incorporate'' it, sure -- and what that mostly means
is just work around it. Do enough of it to obey the rules -- and then
get on to the good stuff.
The mini books that go with each lesson are wonderful! They are a controlled text with the specific sound that was taught, focused in on. The mini books are so great because they provide for the students numerous opportunities; chances to make a prediction, make text to self connections, text to text connections, and text to world connections. Through all of these situations, the child feels a connection to the mini book, and even more proud when they are able to read it! This is not a program just for ''new'' teachers. Yes, it is scripted, and very structured, which is beneficial to newer teachers.
The sight words are so imperative to becoming a fluent
reader. They mean so much! The sight words that a first
grader learns are the sight words that they will need
their whole life. By December there are around 100 sight
words that the child should know. And around 500 by the end
of the year. These words are in the mini books and in the
whole classroom curriculum; math, science, social studies
and language arts. As the teacher constantly incorporates
these words into all aspects of the curriculum and
reinforces them, these words become ''memorized''. And
children gain ownership of them.
Open Court takes a lot of time. A lot of quality time where
the child is engaged and learning the skills necesarry to
become a great reader.''
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