For the past six years my district program PIC (Preschool Intervention Classroom; self contained pre-k) has not had a set curriculum. We’ve used bits and pieces from various programs such as DLM, Read it Once Again, Teach Town, and Second Step. All of those were great but they did not capture all the skills being worked on in our classroom.
Going into the 2020-2021 school year, whatever that may entail, I will be one of 5 program teachers piloting CC (Creative Curriculum). CC is already implemented in our 4k general education programs but this is the first time it will be applied to PIC. In this post I will explain my thoughts, tips, tricks, lesson plans, and adaptions of Creative Curriculum. This may be a lengthy post but I want to make sure I can help you as much as I can!
Please note: I plan on taking pictures of everything mentioned in this post inside the classroom once we can return post COVID/summer. In the meantime I’ve done my best to give an accurate description.
At a Glance
For those of you that have seen or used CC you know it comes in multiple boxes. There are also expansion packs. My district has purchased boxes 1-5 so that includes 11 studies (balls, trees, tubes and tunnels, signs, small machines, insects, sand, buildings, clothes, beginning of year, and reduce reuse & recycle). As I first scanned through the boxes, I was totally overwhelmed. There is a LOT of material and books. I definitely recommend sifting through everything and familiarizing your self with the included components before you start your plans. As I combed through, I noticed some pros and cons.
- The Objectives of Learning book aligns directly with out state standards
- They are broken down to skill level by age which is good for me since I have a wide rage of abilities in my classroom
- This also creates a great goal bank for when writing IEPs.
- Everything is very user friendly. The weekly lesson plans, guides, and intentional teaching cards are easy to navigate
- There is a surplus of resources. It allows for a lot of teacher choice and what sequence of studies you would like to use
- A lot of the intentional teaching cards are things we already do on a daily basis, especially the social emotional cards
- EVERYTHING needs to be adapted. This curriculum is designed for a general education population. Although they provide objectives and intentional teaching card modification for birth- 4, the actual lesson plans themselves are not appropriate for my class setting.
- They do not take into account behaviors or AAC.
- AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication): There are a lot of language opportunities but the vocabulary is a bit advanced. Many of my students are non-verbal. 2/3 of my class use AAC. CC does not provide any accommodations for AAC or an emphasis on core vocabulary
- Behavior: A lot of the lessons require students to have perfect behavior. By that I mean “sit in chair ready to work” behavior skills. There are many instances where lessons and actives are not feasible due to some my students behaviors i.e; elopement, self regulation, and non-compliance behaviors. For example, the ball study. There are, as predicted, a lot of lessons focused around balls. Naturally, we would teach the appropriate behavior for a ball but this can sometimes take months to even scratch the service let alone master. A skill as simple as just not chucking the ball at a classmates head or the ceiling is a skill that could take even up to a year to teach . Balls would automatically be a projectile in our classroom and would have to be monitored for 1:1 use which is not always feasible
- Pacing: The pacing is very quick. There is a new focus question, book, and concept everyday. Typically we spend two weeks on a unit that builds upon the ones to come. The pacing of CC is not conducive to learning for my students.
- Read Alouds: This is my least favorite part. Even with adaptation, the texts are still is troublesome
- The read aloud stories not only last for one day but there are generally no correlations between the book at the focus study. They are super text heavy and the concepts in the books are very advanced for my students . We need very black & white yes/ no books and these books go into a higher level of thinking
- As mentioned before, our classroom is pretty AAC involved. This goes hand in hand with reading/language. The vocabulary is very advanced and does not focus on core words
When I finished unpacking the boxes I knew I needed to come up with my own plan for my classroom. Essentially, I would dissect CC to pick the parts that worked for my class, and make adaptions for my class setting.
I love the concept of Mighty Minutes. It’s something we actually already do but never called it anything special. There hundreds of Mighty Minutes cards, a lot that do not work though. So in true special education teacher fashion, I adapted them. I pulled the ones that could potentially work, tweaked them, and added our own. I made a total of 14. (You can check them out in my TPT store). This way there is variety but also not an overwhelming amount for my kids to learn. I plan to make three sets, put them on binder rings, and hang them by our two doors and one on the font board (currently can not due thanks to COIVD put pictures to come). This way we can quickly access them in the room or clip them to or lanyards as we walk out the door.
Focus Question and Question of The Day
As mentioned before, CC is very fast paced. Each study typically lasts 5 weeks with a new focus question of the week. They are generally broad questions and somewhat applicable so we can utilize this piece. However, we will not be using the question of the day. I created cards for each focus question using visuals from our PCS software Boardmaker. This is the same PCS we use for our AAC devices so it keeps it consistent. To keep are focus questions organized I will be adding them to our already existing Focus Wall. This houses all of our main content area. Both of these items are available in my TPT store in bundle or individual formats. Although I am not using them, Question of the Day Posters are also available.
CC plans are divided into studies, weeks, day, and lessons. I break my plans down by year, week, and standards ( this will make more sense when you scroll down). The weekly and daily lesson plans require a lot of adapting. Generally we can only use two of the activities of the suggested weekly plans for whole and small group. This is okay because we repeat lessons multiple times and allows us to focus on one concept at a time. I pick the ones that work and plug them into my lesson plans (see below). When there is nothing that week that works I pull from the pile of intentional teaching cards that do work and replace it with that. I made a bank of what intentional teaching cards work in what area for easy access (see below in tips and tricks).
I am not using any of the provided read aloud books for read aloud. Instead, I am using text from one of our old curriculum called Read Once Again. However, I am applying intentional teaching cards to each read aloud and aligning the standards as well. I will use the CC read aloud books on our book shelf and our dismissal book bin.
For scheduling purposes, whole group will consist of three read aloud days (M/W/ F whole group speech) and two whole group lessons (T/TH) from the current focus study. (Crafts are already determined but they are locked up in my classroom currently so I can not plug them in). For more information about our daily schedule CLICK HERE.
Tips & Tricks
There are a LOT of materials, many of which I will not even be touching. A lot of things will be reaming in their box but for the items I did pull I have an organizational system.
Study Books: I created a super simple colored coded system so I know which books go with which study. I got these stickers on amazon and assigned a color to each study. There are 11 studies but only 10 stickers. One will go on the spine and one of cover of the study teaching guide. One sticker will go on each book for that study. The remaining study is just blank
Focus Questions: I’m sticking these inside their corresponding Study Teaching guidebook and securing them with a binder clip. When it is time for that study I will slide it into the pocket of the blue teaching strategies. felt binder.
Instructional Teaching Cards : As previously mentioned, I pulled all the cards that will work for me. I then sorted them by activity. Since most cards apply to many actives I arranged them by objective type (language and literature, math, physical, & social emotional). They each get their own hanging folder in my filing cabinet next to the the teaching guide books.
Phew! I know that was a lot! Hopefully I was able to offer you some help and guidance. If you use any of these suggestions or have some of your own you would like to explain, please share with me on Instagram @thealternativewaytoprek or in the comments below.