Although teachers tend to view Open Court as a scripted program, there are some places in the program (or any other) where teachers need to give up some control. Not everyone is comfortable giving up control as a teacher. Are you?
My classroom management has always been firm. I’m not someone who likes a free for all and I ensure that I set clear boundaries and expect students to stay within those boundaries. However, within those boundaries there are places where teachers need to give up some control…
1. The Concept/Question Board.
Please allow your students to put up their own concepts and questions on the board. You have control over every other bulletin board in the room. Let the students have this one. Yes, you still do refer back to it, validate their comments, and encourage further research…maybe even catch a missing question mark or two. But the kids will never take ownership if you micromanage how and when they place artifacts on that board.
2. Independent Work Time/Workshop
Many teachers do not trust their students to do work without them guiding every second of it. The work students do without you may be different (it may even be better or more valuable) but it’s equally important to direct instruction. Do foster an environment of accountability and hard work but don’t manage every second of students’ independent time. How are they going to learn to be independent if you never give them a chance?
What about kindergarten and first grade?
For Independent Work Time your activities need to be age appropriate but the process of working independently and training students to work indpendently is quite the same.
For the Concept/ Question Board, by the end of first grade you want your students working as mini-second graders. In the beginning of first and all of kindergarten you will scaffold this a bit by maybe writing down what students dictate or using linguistic frames. However, do let the students put up their own concepts and questions and know that at some point you do have to let students take the jump and begin sounding out words on their own as best they can. If you never take this jump and hand-hold forever they get to fourth and fifth grade and still need that hand-holding.