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Scripted vs. Spontaneous Lessons


Seizing on a teachable moment in a private school where scripted lessons rule lands one kindergarten teacher in the hot seat, while her counterpart in a less-stringent school setting is praised for turning her students' curiosity into a spontaneous and creative project.

As schools push for a more academic approach in early-childhood classrooms, Nancy Ginsburg Gill writes in this Education Week Commentary, many parents are seeking out programs that use a scripted curriculum for teaching their preschool children. They believe such lessons will give their children an edge when they begin kindergarten already schooled in their ABCs and 123s.

But Ms. Gill argues that while those early experiences may boost students' basic skills, they could negatively impact their creative, emotional, and intellectual development. And veteran teachers and dynamic newcomers to the field are unlikely to accept or keep assignments to such schools.

What do you think? Are scripted curricula shortchanging pupils and driving away good teachers?


The misunderstanding concerning scripted lessons is that they are made to stifle the creativity of the individual teacher. The purpose of the scripts however is to provide a "faultless communication" allowing the teacher to focus not on how to present the basic fact the student needs to know but on their understanding. Students who have mastered the sounds /m/ /a/, and /t/, can now read "mat" and the teacher can concentrate on the student's ability to blend these sounds together to make words. Scripted lessons are a tool like any other tool. If they are used as intended, they can provide teachers the ability to pay attention to their students not curriculum design. On another note, it is funny that we expect curriculum specialists to have an earned master's yet new teachers are expected to design daily curriculum with very little experience and a B.S. ?

As Dr. Rick has pointed out, scripted lessons are merely a tool. The individual creativity of the teacher is displayed in how he or she uses that tool. The sculptor uses a chisel to chip away stone. Two sculptors may use similar chisels, yet come up with entirely different works of art. Early childhood, and for that matter most education is a kind of structured play. Scripted lessons are another kind of toy to add to the toy box. Veteran teachers will use the tools/toys in some manner as they have used every other toy/tool that has come into their realm. Dynamic newcomers will develope as well as use the toys/ tools of their trade.

The story at the beginning of the article reminds me of a similar experience in my elementary school. Only, we did not use a scripted program, we used a "guided approach" to learning. The teacher submitted a lesson plan at the beginning of the week, and was held to that lesson plan when an administrator walked into the classroom. One of the teachers in the building was reprimanded from deviating from a guided reading lesson because a student had brought in a birds nest he had found. The teacher pulled a book on birds nests and was having the class discuss the book. This begs the question, is the problem the script or the administration...
Scripted lessons provide the framework for instruction. It guarentees that a certain skill will be taught in the most effective way possible, leaving time for higher order learning that is based on skill, not guess work. The students I work with who have been taught with a script feel better about themselves and their work, take more risks when asked to do an activity that requires application of skill and higher level thinking, and ask many questions that extend their skills they have learned. The common misconception is that anyone can read a script, so any one can teach a scripted program well. This could not be farther from the truth. As with any curriculum, it takes a very good teacher to use a scripted program, with good professional development, on going coaching, and strong administrative support. The teacher is the person that bring the curriculum to life. Scripted programs just allow teachers to focus on their instruction rather than figuring out how to scaffold skills the most effectively and efficiently way necessary for students to learn.

If scripted lessons prevent teachers from seizing a teachable moment such as the one where the student brings a nest to the school, I'm not in favor of scripted programs. I believe teachers must have a little flexibility in how they achive the goals for children. Life often offers us opportunities for learnign, we can't just pass them by because they aren't in the script!

All children do not learn in the same way. Any scripted program will not reach all children. A child's first experience with literacy must be positive if we want that child to love reading and writing so that they read and write outside of the school setting. It is the expert teacher, one who is a reader and writer himself and a good observer of children, who will instill that love as he is teaching to the child's stengths and interests. The latest report on NCLB states that gains are highest for the average child. Programs that are used are scripted. The high students hate reading in school and the low students fail. We have tried this route in the past and it didn't work then. Why do we think it will work in 2007? Dr. Rick calls it "faultless communication". That is just another term for "teacher proof". Schools need to spend their time and money on long term professional development so that it is an expert teacher who decides what a child needs and not a script. Give the script to the para-professional (as there are many "teaching" literacy) and leave the real teaching to the knowledgeable teacher.

I believe that particularly at the pre-k level and possibly even in kindergarden, lesson plans need to be responsive to child interest and readiness based on teacher observation of individual children and the class collectively. Lesson plans provide a framework so that teachers can be intentional in what is presented to children but should not be cast in stone. Teachers should be well versed in child development and the learning outcomes for children so that teachable moments are maximized to provide effective teaching and learning. I have come to understand that learning happens best within the context of a relationship. Scripted lessons negate relationship based responsive teaching.

All the comments above reflect one part of the elephant. We are dealing with a complex concept here: learning. Scripts, differentiation, multiple modes, student interests/preferences, teachers' academic specialties/preferences---all need to be used to get what we want: maximum achievement AND love of learning!
However, as someone who has worked with teachers for over twenty years, I think scripts are getting a bum rap; some provide a lot of room for teacher creativity. The point is that the selecter of the script has to know the content and the children too...
Finally, I've observed that scripts seem to be more aversive to marginal teachers than good ones, even though they are the ones scripts might really help (threaten?). Unless you know the teacher know his/her stuff and his/her kids, I'll choose a scripted lesson any day!

I am totally against scripted, canned curriculum! I am a professional and received a 4-yr. college degree in education plus several semesters of classroom observation and student teaching. I know have a doctorate, but I left the classroom after 12 years teaching middle school algebra because of absurd demands of high-stakes testing and canned curriculum. Don't get me wrong - I am in favor of accountability, but not the implementation that ignores my professionalism to know my students. Teaching inner city children takes skill and creativity to keep these children engaged and in the classroom. I am NOT an actor on stage that memorizes lines for entertainment. I am a loving and caring teacher that needs to teach the WHOLE child and let each child know they are important. Why not just hire a robot to speak the lines?

I am in complete agreement with Ellen Phillips. As a veteran (25 years; grades K-6) teacher I would like to add how critical it is that the school administrator knows how/what must occur in order to teach a child to read regardless of their SES level, race, background, or native language. We need highly qualified administrator/teachers visiting classrooms who know how/what to provide as appropriate and differentiated staff development for teachers in need. Reading pedagogy must be the prerogative of the school and not subject to the tyranny of federal programs that support corporate profits.

Ahhh, yet another variation in the search for the "Teacher-Proof" curriculum! Granted, for a more lofty yet, still, unproven purpose, but much the same. The add in the local paper may have read: "Home-based pre-school "juku" desired. What should I do, and what should I say, motion-by-motion and word-for-word?" Relax. For every helpless parent there is an entrepreneur ready to provide "scripts" in perky packaging. Step right up!

having not taught math before except to preschoolers i was hired to be a math cluster in a south bronx school teaching k-6 everyday math. my disciplinary skills were not honed for the grades 3-6 and i found difficulty in gaining the children's attention teaching the everyday math lessons. i had to find a way to get their attention so i printed parts of the stock market pages from the newspaper and handed them out. when the children realized they could look up companies and stores they were familiar with, finding how much the stock sold for from day to day we were able to discuss and perform addition, subtraction, fractions and begin to discuss economics. i am not against scripted teaching but i do believe you have to get the children's attention first.

Another danger with the scripted programs is the "push down" curriculum we often see now offered to early childhood programs. Preschool children are expected to handle much more academics than ever before. As professionals in the early childhood field, we must not forget our strengths: observation and responsiveness to individual needs and developmental level. I fear that preschool may go the way of many kindergartens today: driven by curriculum and missing the most important component of an early classroom experience: play.

My credentials include a bachelor's in social science, minor in sociology, a triple major in psch. soc, and O.L., and a masters in education and curriculum. Prior to that, I was a science major. I teach art and music to children on the side, have for many years. If I didn't love teaching so much, I would most definitely walk away. As a creative and intuitive person, sometimes I find the scripted curriculum so stifling and mind-numbing, I can barely force myself through it. I often wonder how five-year-olds can stand it! Not only is the curriculum disconnected from me and my children's lives, it insults our collective intelligence.
Although even scripted materials can be used in advantageous ways, the problem dwells in how it is percieved by your administration. In my district I am expected to "fully implement" my core materials. This translates into the script being the foundation of student success. If this were true, who needs me-just put it all on a recording and plug the kids in.
I find my self documenting justifications for "viewing the bird's nest" learning moments. On page "x" in theme "x" it says science connection, and you are directed to show children a picture of an egg. So I dutifully write it down as compliant with the core materials, according to part "x", lest we be caught deviating from the script and actually experiencing apparently forbidden dicovery, joy, wonder, higher thinking, and everything else that comprises a true learning experience.
My greatest fear is what this will do to our learners as adults. Where will they experience the "aha" moment with scripted education? Did Hemmingway use scripted writing methods? Were our great philosophers and scholars products of scripted learning? How about our exemplary leaders of the past? (sorry, I couldn't think of some current ones) How will our students learn to be the life-long-learners we say we want to build?
It is absolutely frightening to think what impact this educational experiment will have on our society in a matter of one or two decades. The bottom line is, what are the goals? Is it to build a better society? Should education have that responsibility returned to them? Think back on your own education. When were you challenged, validated, inspired, moved to be better than you are? Who/what motivated you?
Sorry, but in creating this great, equitable moment, we will build nothing more than average, dull, boring and souless lives.

Initially a scripted lesson can hold value for a teacher who has never been in a classroom before or for one who is teaching a new subject the first time. In these cases, a scripted lesson can be a starting point.

Nonetheless, to truly reach and teach ALL students, relying on scripted lessons can be disastrous as they do not allow for the necessary individualized instruction needed to get children passionate about learning.

I find scripted lessons tedious and boring and leave no room for creativity. As a highly qualified and experienced teacher--absolutely-I will not want to stay with your school/district. I would rather work for less pay.

Politicians always seem to want a magic pill to remedy what they perceive is wrong with education. Scripted lessons are nothing new. They didn't work before and they will not work much better now! I certainly would not recommend a school/district to parents who really want to see a well-rounded child who loves learning for the sake of learning:)

Has anyone ever noticed that 'scripted' lessons are used in GATE, Honors, or Advanced Placement classes?

Rigid curriculum does a number of negative things: It diminishes teacher training so that anyone could walk into a classroom and administer lessons; It diminishes thinking on the part of the teacher as well as the student; It sets up the student to expect the teacher to do more work than them; it diminishes lesson planning to the point where computers could take over and whenever a computer can take over, someone will find a reason to make it happen because they don't have to pay a computer.

In the long run, a computer can't teach. Teaching is as much an art form as it is a science. That's where the problem lies. Once we get back to being a nation that honors and supports the Arts in general, the idea of teaching being an art might hold some power.

(What am I saying? A lot of people in this country don't believe in science (read: evolution) either!) There is no wonder to why educational systems are looking bad these days since no one really believes in the importance of being educated. It's not about knowledge which is the lowest level on Blooms Taxonomy. It's about how we use knowledge and put diverse ideas/concepts together that make one educated.

Am I preaching to the choir?

It seems that the consensus on this board is that scripted lessons are a negative things for students and teachers alike. I tend to agree.

As a teacher who has worked with every age group imaginable (pre-k through 5 reading intervention; 9-12 grade Language Arts, Composition, Literature, Journalism, and Public Relations); 13-16 year old girls in an entreneurship camp, I know first hand that scripted lessons do not work to the advantages of the teacher or the student.

Someone stated that it calls for the teacher to turn off her brain and forget about teachable moments observed in the classroom, and this has disastrous results on our student bodies.

It is the responsibility of the teacher to have an idea of what he or she wants a student to master and to look for the right opportunity to teach the lesson in a way that will never be forgotten. This is the teachable moment. It doesn't happen without observation. Scripted lessons require teachers to rely on a prescribed way of teaching a lesson, and we all know that one size does not fit all.

As diverse as American classrooms are, there is no way that a teacher can be effective with a reliance on scripted lessons. My observation of other teacher's classroom procedures and student behavior leads me to believe that many of our students are failing while and because schools are adopting these "lessons in a box" in an ironic attempt to increase student achievement.

I agree, students are missing skills that are needed to be successful in future schooling. At this age children need to work on social skills which will enhance their development throughout their school years. Parents do not seem to have that time to help children learn social skills, putting it on the teacher. Children need to be allowed to use these skills and learn from the mistakes that they might make. When the focus is high on academics at such an early age students miss out on these forgotten skills. Studies have shown that when children have good social skills they achieve better academically.

It may be that many years of teaching and a good self image keep me from feeling threatened by new, improved lessons. Lessons reamin pretty much the same, whether scripted by some unknown "expert" or by the teacher her/himself. When someone comes up with a better way to teach the ABC's than singing it, I will give it a try. If it works, I will incorporate that new way into my way. Scripts are just that, scripts. They are not lesson plans really and are not meant, nor should they be viewed as the only right or correct methodology. Any script requires a reader/interpreter and all teachers will not interpret the same script in the same way. Any teacher can look at her or his lesson plans and see that what they have written is a script for whatever lesson they plan to teach. Scripted lessons neither diminish nor enhance good teaching.

I just finished my first year of teaching and I can't say enough how much I disliked scripted lessons. Children are different, we do not need "cookie-cutter" children or lessons. Where is the creativity, sensitivity to differing views and talents, and spontaneity? "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." How does our future look? I want a better future for all of us and especially our children, the future adults running this world. Do we want what we've always had, or better? Teach children to care and build relationships, to find different ways to get answers, not to just get the right answer on a test that means nothing to them personally. We can change our future for the better, one child at a time. I hope to make a difference.

A good lesson is a good lesson, and it will travel and other teachers will adopt it. I suppose that could be called "scripted." I believe, reading these posts, that the definitions of scripted vary among the participants. To me, simply having a spelled out lesson with excellent verbage is not "scripted" and can be very helpful, whether I wrote the verbage or it came from someone else. I will use it to help me along and I will separate from the script where my years of experience tell me to separate.

On the other hand, I am aware of many schools and districts that are requiring specific scripted pacing, a different idea of scripted lessons. In these schools all teachers must be on the same page on the same day. There are reports of schools removing all other reading materials (yes--removing books) other than the scripted materials provided by the textbook company. I do not know whether this is a marketing ploy by the textbook companies or an administrative mess-up, but this kind of "scripted" is wrong for learning and should be called "censorship. How can removing books be good for learning? How can the assumption that teachers should not think--just do, be good for learning?

Kudos, Rick, for addressing purposes for scripted instruction. You described what I heard and saw during creation of one of the most promonent "scripts." They require high levels of discipline by teachers and can occur with as much fun for students as singing in a master choral. Yes, lack of use of scripts can short chance students. No, I don't think scripted lessons or whatever term refers to rational, efficient cause-effect instructional procedures affect most teachers. Efficient student learning increases define good teaching. Scripts do not, on average, drive away good teachers. Some teachers with priorities other than using rational, efficient procedures may use them as a reason to leave.

Yes, I do believe that only using scripted curriculum only supports certain children in the classroom. As educators we must be aware of the fact that there are different types of learners in the classroom. Some learners need the scripted curriculum other learners need an emergent, child initiated learning curriculum.

Follow the trail backwards, who is benefiting most from these commercialized reading programs? Answer: The huge corporations that are making millions and millions. Their customers? Desperate school districts with unbelievable pressure on them. Pressure from where? No Child Left Behind. This issue has more to do with money and power than we would all like to think. Who suffers the most? The teachers and children. Anyone who stops to consider the long term goals we want for our students will see that a one-size-fits-all reading program will not help realize those goals. And anyone who suggests mindless obedience is a positive trait in students or teachers isn't looking at the bigger picture.

There is no one method of teaching that is right for all students nor one that is right for all teachers. For some teachers and students, a high quality, scripted approach may be a good option. We do not use scripts in my school. However, when I design lesson plans, I have very clear objectives. By writing down the lesson step-by-step, I won't forget important points that I want to make to clearly teach a particular skill. I always try to link the skill to the students' prior knowledge and to give them authentic opportunities to practice the skill. I guess you could say I am creating my own scripts. I don't view them as dry or boring. I try very hard to engage the students and to keep them interested and motivated. I frequently use humor and stories to pepper the learning experience. However, I am not wedded to my "script". Often a teachable moment will present itself and you have to go with it. The lesson about the nest is one such example. Those children will remember that lesson for years because it was an experience. The best teacher I ever had was a high school English teacher. I can remember many lessons she taught in detail (and I was her student over 35 years ago!) because she made her lessons interesting, relevant, and usually funny, too. She would go off on what some might call tangents, but they always enhanced the learning experience. When she would deviate from her original point in pursuit of that teachable moment, she would say she was "casting pearls before swine". She was so right.

I have done most of my teaching outside the classroom (after school programs, sunday school, summer camp, etc), although I have a few years of actual public school class room experience (substitute teaching, adult GED classes), and I have covered the waterfront with regard to methodolgy--from highly scripted (actually, as I substitute, I was generally just handing out prepared, purchase worksheets) to highly teacher determined. I can certainly identify with those who balk at a "script."

I can recall the same reaction when handed a Sunday School curriculum selected by a highly educated educator--who had selected it because it applied some pretty good knowledge about how kids learn. It was also an expensive, all inclusive package with lots of bells and whistles. Actually, the stuff in it was no worse than some of the other curriculum I had been handed that allowed (NEEDED) my highly creative touch to flesh out the lesson (but left other teachers scratching their head for what to do).

I have found that even a scripted approach doesn't really determine who I am, or how I teach. Some of the benefits of the scripted approach (which I later applied as I was writing curriculum and lessons for others to teach) are that it can help to provide an overall cohesiveness to multiple grades/classrooms. It isn't the only way to do it--I have also done this through intensive planning and evaluation sessions with co-workers--but this kind of time is hard to come by.

I have also experienced a tightly controlled curriculum (in a very good art school, surprisingly enough). The lessons were not only highly predictable in the core courses--they were the same year after year. They had names, they had aims and parameters, they were on display. The artist's creativity was challenged by their unique approach to the problem.

So--I guess I'm with Bob. Whatever "scripted" means, I am not likely to be frightened by it at this point in my life. Further, I would recognize that there are some real benefits. Remember--we are not working to overcome a situation in which high quality education has been available to every child in every classroom. We have to deal with a highly uneven level of quality and opportunity, that has been fostered, in part, by the assumption that every teacher knows what is best for every child.

Ordinarily I don't comment on issues outside my field, but some of the fall out over scripted lessons has intruded into high school. Of course, I'm assuming the people would consider scripted lessons in secondary schools to be wrong ...

Firstly, curriculum departments in the name of curriculum alignment are interfering with the timing of our lessons. I'm always going to sequence my government lessons according to developements in the news i.e whether there are presidential, local or state elections, wars, the time the Supreme Court is in session.

Next year unless some idiot in the central office finds out I'm going back to my practice in World History of starting with contemporary history to increase motivation and establish a goal, and then return to the beginning during the 2nd nine weeks.

I don't teach elementary and maybe I don't have the personality for it, but I don't see how anyone would feel good about scripted lessons. As much as I love my students, its seems we also have a responsibility to the profession, and to submit to "teacher proofing" (to me) indicates a lack of self-respect.

Scripted lessons have been given a bad and undeserved rap. Direct Instruction is an excellent means for teaching math and reading, and it engages students--all students, not just the few bright ones who answer questions right away. Classes that are less concrete, such as literature and social studies, of course, should not be scripted. I learned DI while working on my M.Ed. and I love it and see excellent results with kids, esp. low performers. It is great! You have to understand it before you judge how it 'looks'.

Having taught in a school where a scripted program was used K-3 I am firmly against the use of them. I teach upper grades and I saw the impact of such a program. The students were not able to do much other than decode. There was no depth of thinking. Critical thinking was not developed. Every year I was faced with students who looked at me like a deer in the headlights when asked to think about a piece of writing. It was an uphill climb. Having taught primary grades I know that it is possible to have children think critically at every age. Good teaching does not rely on programs, scripted or otherwise. Scripted programs, in my expierience allow mediocre teachers to continue with the mediocrity. It is not acceptable.

The conclusion from some educators that a scripted prgram presupposes a lack of creativity on the part of the teacher is not accurate. All good teachers bring imagination and creativity to any curriculum assigned to be taught. Even Meryl Streep, academy award actress, has a script. The genius is in her ability to use a script in a manner that convinces each of us that those words are her very own. Let us not sell our own fine teachers so short!

A script used by one person to give a performance cannot be compared to a script designed to teach twenty or more children the same thing at the same time. It should be obvious to everyone that children, like all people, are at different levels of achievement throughout their lives. The gaps become wider as the children age but even in the first grade there will be a wide range of ability and achievement. Therefore, if a teacher uses a scripted lesson to teach reading, at least a fourth of her class will already know the material. Another fourth will not have the necessary background to profit from the instruction. Frankly I'm surprised that so many educators would support a method that essentially treats twenty or thirty human beings as though they were all at the same level of achievement.

A scripted lesson might be OK for a brand new teacher who is in a "sink or swim" situation, but we should expect more from experienced teachers.

absolutely agree...I taught for 22 years before becoming an administrator....feel so sad for the "newbies". I feel as if I taught during the "golden age" of teaching...now it just seems as though everyone has to do the same things, be on the same page, ask the same questions,....how boring to teach in such a way. It is forced mediocrity at best..and only embraced by the worst teachers who are happy not to have to do anymore lesson plans. Why would anyone want to go into teaching now?

A fascinating book has just been published on this very topic. The title of the book is TESTED. The author is Linda Perstein.

Scripted lessons have been tried and have failed. For example, the reading method Direct Instruction is simply a recycling of a failed scripted program from the early 1970s, DISTAR.

Scripted programs are an insult to professional educators who have been taught to teach in college, although alternately certified beginners might be comfortable with it since they have had only a few weeks of training in education.

Scripted programs are a recipe for teacher burnout. A good teacher is a creative teacher. A creative teacher is a teacher who has control over his or her classroom, including how to reach the students. The most productive teachers are the ones who have at least some control over what they teach as well as how they teach.

Scripted programs degrade and disrespect professional teachers. Paraprofessionals can follow directions and read a script! Scripted programs could even be done entirely by computer if the schools are not too cheap to pay for one-on-one computing. Why hire a real teacher when an intelligent para can simply read the lessons to the children and make them do the little scripted worksheets? If real teachers are unnecessary, why not save the money and keep our wages low.

It is interesting to note that in the highest performing schools and in programs for gifted children scripted programs are not used. If they are inappropriate for the best students, why would subjecting the lower achieving and disadvantaged ones, who need the highest quality curricula the most, be forced to learn through them?

Scripted programs along with high stakes testing, teaching to the test and creating good bubblers instead of well educated students need to go. Such insults are part of the reason I teach only students with severe disabilities. No one has yet figured out how to script my babies. A good special ed. teacher remains a creative, professional teacher.

Dr. Rick mentioned that curriculum specialists are required to have Masters Degrees, but teachers only a BS. Personally, I think a teacher should be well on her way to earning a Master's by his or her fifth year in education.

Before the shortage got so severe, many middle class districts would not look at a teacher who did not have a M.Ed. This was true of the suburban schools around Atlanta. It motivated me to get my Masters! The only schools that would hire with a BS was the low income city system and the institutional schools.

A BS should be only the beginning for a professional educator. But even then, some curriculum specialists only know how to write curricula. If they were told to return to the classroom on a daily basis, they would quit. Sometimes those positions are just a way to reward teachers with the proper political connections. One memorable one I knew spoke extremely ungrammatical English but was extremely attractive. She had actually been kicked out of special education because she was not considered bright enough to be a special ed. teacher!. Sending special ed teachers who were incompetent or abusive down to regular education was a fairly common way to deal with incompetent or abusive tenured teachers in that system at the time. It is easy to create when you don't have to implement, just like it is easy for President Bush to send our young adults to Iraq since his daughters are not at risk for the draft.

I have been truely amazed at the number of responses in regard to the use of scripts in the classroom. At first glance I was worried that so many were in favor of this process. I had not encountered this term of "scripting" until taking graduate work this summer. I was appauled then as I am now at the thought of being told by my administratrator and/or school district exactly what I can and can't say at what exact time and in what manner. I heard teachers "testify" to be told what read aloud was allowed to read within a first grade class. Only one read aloud per day and the questions that were to be asked had to follow the script prepared by the building principal. How is this approach meeting the needs of our students? How are their thinking skills progressing in such a rigid manner? These teachers could be fired on the spot if found to have read an additional book or not be on the same page at the right moment of a given day. Personnally, I would never be able to teach in this manner. Yes, curriculum guidelines, long term planning, and daily planning are essential in achieving effective teaching. However, based upon the evidence I heard first hand at what is taking place within these "scripted" schools I am appalled. As an undergraduate we were always told that teacher guides were just that, guides. What is the effect of this rigid, non-creative approach to teaching? The goals of educators should be to provide students with the tools and opportunities to become life long learners.

The reality is that scripted lessons in schools that receive Title I funding allow for no flexibility and the teachable moments have indeed gone out the window. The blocks must be 90 minutes long without interruptions other than a brief stretch activity.

I can attest to this as it has happened not only in the Title I schools, but even in the others in our district because that is what the superintendent thought would be the easiest way to raise reading scores. Well, the jury is still out on that. In fact our state's assessment scores show some improvement in third grade scores in impoverished areas, but scores in 4th and 5th grades dropped, often significantly even in schools in better areas.

What I find appalling is that in our kindergartens this scripted teaching is taking place too! Each day for 90 minutes and the kids have no more time to play indoors or out. All toys and play centers have been removed from the classrooms. I watched three kindergarten classes during this insane direct instruction and believe it will damage many young children since there is no time for the teacher to respond to their questions or remarks. They have to adhere to a common schedule!

Parents and teachers should take a stand for these young children who should have the right to have some self-initiated play. Research keeps finding that play actually improves achievement, so what's the deal in denying these kids? Is it to create obedient passive workers?
Take a look to see such scripted lessons in action at www.adihome.org Under Support Services click on movie clips.

The site does not sell products, but has a link to the McGraw-Hill companies that publish these scripted reading series!

Bonita wrote "There are reports of schools removing all other reading materials (yes--removing books) other than the scripted materials provided by the textbook company. I do not know whether this is a marketing ploy by the textbook companies or an administrative mess-up, but this kind of "scripted" is wrong for learning and should be called "censorship."

This is done according to the "script" of Reading First/No Child Left Behind. In the kindergarten classrooms I visited there were only a dozen or so books to choose from. Not even one for each kid. Of course, there's no need since kids can only choose a book when they have finished their seat work and others are still working. In reality some kids may not even get much of a chance to sit and look at a book!

Kids are not allowed to bring their own favorite book to school, not in the higher elementary grades either.
Before this mandate the kids in kindergarten went to the library to choose a book and upon returning to the classroom were read to by the teacher. They also still could play. Now, it's like first grade!

One more thing!

Please consider sharing your concerns with the members of the U.S. Education Committee and its Chairman George Miller: [email protected]

Also share with your U.S. Senators and Representatives! They need to hear what's going on in America's classrooms under NCLB and how this is damaging to kids and teachers!

Check out www.educatorroundtable.org

I can't help thinking that the educators here who say that scripts are just tools and starting places have never been in a school where the teachers were expected to just read a script. I am at a school where we were made to "fully impliment" the curriculum package and stick to a strict pacing calendar that did not allow us to deviate from the book for a moment (all unit tests due on the same day). Our test scores went down. Now what?

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  • Conny Jensen: One more thing! Please consider sharing your concerns with the read more
  • Conny Jensen/ Play and Recess Advocate: Bonita wrote "There are reports of schools removing all other read more
  • Conny Jensen/ Play and Recess Advocate: The reality is that scripted lessons in schools that receive read more
  • Robin, Early Childhood/Elementary Teacher: I have been truely amazed at the number of responses read more




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