By Constance Franke
Region 10 ESL Teacher
I am a retired elementary/music teacher from the Louisville/Jefferson County School system. For 11 years I have taught adult ESL students at all levels in Region 10. Also, I have taught adults English in Japan, China, and Indonesia, and in Adult ESL programs in Louisville, KY .
Since being introduced to OpenBook over ten years ago, it has become an important instructional component in my daily instruction. What I like most is the programs flexibility to individualize and differentiate instruction. It requires my students to read, write, speak and listen for understanding in every daily lesson. Questioning is based on Bloom’s taxonomy.
OpenBook allows the student to move at the level and pace that best suits their need. The teacher can assign what level is needed. A student I have from El Salvador came with little education in his own country. He was able to work independently on OpenBook to grasp the phonetics needed to move forward in learning to read and write. He has made great progress and is now in the top group in the ESL class.
I have either had experience with or been introduced to at least two other programs for teaching English but neither had the ability to teach the phonemes needed to decode the language. A program without this ability is leaving the student without the base for learning a language and requiring much instruction time for an individual student. Open Book has a complete phonemic program giving the student the tool and ability for decoding the language he/she is striving to learn.
The program enables the student to review a lesson as many times as needed. The speech therapist will speak the letter or word (with a picture) and the student can respond using the head microphone then listen to see if they sound the same as the therapist. To individually do this in a multi-level class would reduce the amount of time needed to instruct the other students.
Often my Asian students come with reading and writing knowledge but the inability to hear the language. Assigning them a level that will give them the needed practice in hearing the language and practice on phonetics that are difficult for them begins the process of completing the missing element in their English language skills. Once again, they can work in the program at the pace that best meets their needs.
OpenBook is a literacy/fluency program where every word is live. The program’s multi-sensory approach includes a combination of voice, text, pictures, video, graphics and foreign language translation (if wanted) to capture the attention of adults while keeping them academically engaged. Each day I teach multiple lessons for each level of students in my classroom. While I am engaging one level, I know all the other students are receiving a rich, individualized lesson at their ability level.
When the ABE teachers found out about OpenBook, they wanted it in their classrooms. Now, teachers have the option to put students reading below the 5th grade level on OpenBook in Region 10.
I highly recommend OpenBook to all adult ESL teachers. OpenBook’s effectiveness goes beyond my expectations. I am very grateful for it and how it helps the students to move forward more rapidly than they would without it. I reflect that this would have been a great program to have had when I was teaching elementary students in public school because it teaches and reinforces!