The Trains Run On Time: Have a Schedule

I get asked all the time how I fit in anything “extra” into the Open Court program. I don’t think I’m doing anything “extra.” I just make sure I have time for writing and independent work time/workshop each day. Your writing and IWT times are when you differentiate your instruction in ways which you can’t when teaching the whole group.

This is how I do it.

Here’s our weekly schedule. Our schedule will not work for you exactly but I share it in the hopes that it’s helpful in you developing your own schedule for use with the Open Court Reading Program. You may need to adjust it for your library or computer lab time or change it for your grade level or Open Court edition.

Here’s what this is. My second grade team at Saturn Street School and I developed a template for how our week would run where we knew every Monday at such and such a time we were doing blending. Every Wednesday we were doing a workbook page after recess. Every Friday, a spelling test.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the many program components (or want a shortcut to planning) then I think you need a schedule like this.

Weekly Schedule

3 Responses to The Trains Run On Time: Have a Schedule

  1. I don’t know a lot about Open Court, but I had the opportunity to go to L.A. a couple of years ago and observe in some classrooms at two different schools and Open Court is what they used. What I found was that teachers either loved it or hated it. The ones that didn’t care for it so much told me that there was way too focus on decoding skills and not nearly enough on the comprehension strategies. I took a look at your weekly schedule and noticed that you did have a comprehension test in there. I’m wondering what exactly that looks like.

  2. When teachers feel that there is too much focus on phonics versus comprehension, generally they are spending too much time on the phonics section and not enough time on the comprehension section. There is a comprehension section of about equal weight to the phonics section. In addition, effective teachers bring in additional literature. Elements of the program like the Concept/Question Board and handing off discussions lead directly to increased comprehension but those tend to be some of the least frequently used elements of the program.

    The comprehension test comes directly from our manuals and involves some simple recall questions as well as a few inference and vocabulary based questions. I always have a few non-readers in my classes and so I have the students complete these “tests” as a group and do not grade them as tests. My reasoning is that if you can’t read and you’re working on your own you’re just sitting there doing nothing but when they work as a group the taking of these tests is still an educational experience with students helping each other. Afterward we correct our tests together and we talk more about any questions that groups got wrong.

  3. Matthew,

    I am a first year teacher in a PI 5 school and I am struggling with Open Court and just behavior in general. I teach in Sacramento in a pretty tough school. I teach second Grade and I would like to get some more ideas on how you run your classroom. Do you use any certain classrrom management system that you could share? I like your idea about having them take the test in groups, especially when I have 5 non readers in my class.

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