Odessa Christian School 

A Total A Beka Book Curriculum School

I am very proud to have the privilege to work at a "Total A Beka Book Curriculum School." Every elementary subject is taught using the incomparable A Beka Book curriculum. I believe there is none better. All the subjects are thoroughly integrated to effectively reinforce each other. The curriculum is tradition and tested, using materials and methods that have proven effective in thousands of classrooms across America. I am simply thrilled that my own grandchildren are attending this great school.  

Here is a good article on phonics from the A Beka Book website: "Why Not Teach Intensive Phonics" by James A. Chapman. Mr. Chapman's article was written in 1986. Scientific research since Mr. Chapmen wrote this article has made great advances, all of which agrees with the positions taken in his article. Here is the A Beka Philosophy of Education. All A Beka curriculum materials pass through a rigorous process of development to assure effectiveness. I am not aware of any curriculum, private or public, that has passed such stringent quality control.  

Foundation Document 

When I started teaching at OCS in 2006, I made a study of the history of the school and reviewed many of the founding documents. Here one of those historic documents: Serving Today, Preparing for Tomorrow. I believe it was distributed in 1967 because it mentions the Open Court reading program which was first implemented at the school that year. The first year they used the Phonovisual Method, which I have use with my tutoring kids. 

Mr. Potter's Spanish Classes 

This will be my eleventh year teaching Spanish at OCS. I was an elementary bilingual teacher for the Ector County Independent School District for fourteen years. For two years, I taught secondary first and second year Spanish a the Bowie Junior High. I have my ESL, Spanish, regular elementary, and bilingual certification. I 

For eight years I taught Spanish to ALL grades from prekindergarten to sixth grade. Last year, with the addition of middle school Spanish, it was decided that I would just teach 5th grade and middle school Spanish. Spanish for the lower grades was canceled. This give me more time for tutoring and helping more children to be successful with our A Beka program. 

Please see my Spanish Page for information on how to learn and teach Spanish. This year we are using Spanish Made Simple as our Middle School textbook. It is the same book I used to each myself Spanish in 1981. 

Mr. Potter's Reading Classes 

Beside teaching Spanish, I am the On Campus Reading and Cursive Handwriting Specialist. I work daily with any students who come to us behind in reading. This is one of the most satisfying parts of my work for the school.  I also do independent tutoring after school in my classroom. Call the school or email me for more information. I tutor three days a week for six weeks in the summer. 

Mr. Potter's Approach to Education 

To teach the heart, where lies the gold,

My goal shall always be,

With warm love and true kindness

For all the world to see.

                      By Donald L. Potter 1/1/2014

     A Beka Reading Resources for Parents 

The A Beka Book Reading Handbook is the core Phonics Textbook of all the reading instruction at Odessa Christian School. I use it for much of my in school and out of school tutoring. The book is very inexpensive and worth its weight in gold. The first-grade readers are tightly correlated with the 10 sections in the Reading Handbook. In fact, the first-grade reading program is so complete that it can be used to teach teens and adults to read. If you have never been trained in teaching reading with phonics, I highly recommend the A Beka Book Basic Sounds CD, which explains the proper enunciation of all the sounds in the Reading Handbook The entire phonics portion of the program is taught in the first 5 Readers, which form the essential core of the program. Here is my detailed Analysis of the A Beka First-Grade Reading Program. It will be of great help to parents of first-graders in our program. Other Christian schools will find it very helpful in gaining a thorough understanding of the program. I have prepared audio instruction for all the lessons in the Handbook for Reading and the first two readers so the slower students will have ample opportunity for the review necessary to keep up with the class. Don Potter's A Beka Basic Sounds document and Basic Sounds mp3 recoding. A Beka Basic Sounds. For step-by-step audio instruction click on  Basic Sounds mp3. I have created flashcards for the first-grade spelling program: A Beka Spelling Cards. A Beka Fluency Drills for the first-grade spelling words. 

Concerning the THREE Lesson Plans for First Grade

It is very important to know that there are three Lesson Plans for first-grade according the the students speed of learning. They are similar in sequence but VERY DIFFERENT in pacing. See my "Analysis" above for detailed information Parents should be kept informed by the teacher as to EXACTLY what their child has mastered every week in the classroom. This is easy to do since mastery is determined by the child's ability to read the assigned pages for the week in the Handbook for Reading, Reader, and the weekly spelling list. Parents MUST settle for nothing less than close and complete cooperation from the teacher. 

Concerning the First and Second Grade A Beka Spelling Program

It is very important to understand that the A Beka spelling program for first and second grades is an integral part of the phonics reading instruction. While the students take a spelling test each week, the real test is whether they can spell ALL the words for the year at the conclusion of the year. Dr. Ronald P. Carver established that words that students can spell well, they will be able to read fluently and with understanding. Spelling is not optional or incidental, it is central to the power of the program to produce superior readers. I give the parents at our school a copy of the spelling words for the whole year so they can practice them over and over with their children all year long. To fail to teach the spelling properly is a serious blunder. See the link above to the spelling cards. Do NOT ask students to spell words they cannot read. 

Concerning the 170 Days of Lesson Plans 

Teachers accustomed to writing their own lesson plans in the public schools may be confused by the A Beka approach. Parents, also, should know how the program is structured so they can make certain their school is teaching the program fully and faithfully. A Beka considers a school year to consist in 170 days, with lesson for each day. The lesson number can usually be found on the worksheet. The program is sequential and spiraling, new skills are learned in each lesson and repeated in a spiraling fashion for complete mastery. It is ESSENTIAL that the teacher cover ALL the lessons in order for the student to be ready for the next grade level in the program. Since the textbooks are combination workbooks and textbooks, it is a simple matter for any parent to determine whether the school is being faithful to their promise to teach their children the A Beka Book curriculum. I suggest that every parent visit the school frequently to examine the textbooks to make sure the teachers are following the plan so the children can benefit from the program. A Beka gets superior results only when followed faithfully. Simply check to see the last lesson your child finished, it should be approximately the same as the day of the school year. Here is the OCS Planning Calendar for 2015-2016

Teacher's Day Poem for A Beka Teachers

It was my privilege to work two years under the direction of Mrs. Twyla Greenfield, when she was the Interim Principal at OCS eight years ago. Mrs. Greenfield had the foresight and good judgment to suggest to the School Board that we switch to the A Beka Book Christian School curriculum. She promised us that the A Beka Curriculum would make teaching both easier and more productive. Out of appreciation for her contribution to the growth and success of the school, I am publishing a poem she gave to all the teachers at the end of her term of principalship. 

Free Supplemental Phonics Programs Available from www.donpotter.net  

1. Hazel Loring's 1980 Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics for First Grade explains the blend phonics technique. I have produced a Reader to supplement this fantastic phonics program: Blend Phonics Reader. The Reader is especially designed to prevent or cure whole-word dyslexia. We have recently published a set of decodable storybooks that you can download for FREE Blend Phonics Story Books. Here is a Blend Phonics Certificate of Completion. I can do Blend Phonics workshops for public schools, private schools, and home school organizations. You can visit my www.blendphonic.org website for my Nationwide Blend Phonics Educational Reform Campaign. Reading Made Easy with Blend Phonics Plus Blend Phonics Fluency Drills is now available as a beautiful paperback. 

2. Audio instruction and materials for teaching phonics-first: Natural Phonics Primer™. This is my instructional material for teaching Rudolf Flesch's 72 Exercises published in 1955 in Why Johnny Can't Read and what you can do about it. The Exercises were published separately in his 1956 Teaching Johnny to Read. Click on the 1955 title to purchase a copy of Flesch's book. Dr. Flesch's 72 Exercises are especially powerful for curing the most difficult cases of artificially induced whole-word dyslexia. 

3. Back in 1913 Florence Akin publish an excellent phonics program, Word Mastery: For the First Three Grades. Anyone can use this to teach their children to read. It can be used to supplement any good phonics program being used in the classroom. I published this in 2004. It gets around 30,000 hits each month. A professor in New Jersey recently earned her Ph.D. teaching this method to kindergarten students. I recently published it with CreateSpace in a beautiful paperback edition: Word Mastery. I also have the same book in a cursive edition: Word Mastery Cursive.  

4. First Readers Anthology. These are 10 progressive phonics readers by Samuel L. Blumenfeld, that I have published as a single volume anthology. It is also available in a special cursive edition to help students build fluency in reading cursive. First Readers Anthology: Cursive Edition

5. For those interested in an in-depth study of the issues concerning how reading should be taught, I recommend the following articles by Dr. Samuel Blumenfeld: Can Dyslexia be Artificially Induced in Schools? and Muscue Analysis: Teaching Normal Children to Read Like Defective Children

6. In the fall of 2016, I started using Mary Pecci’s AT LAST! a Reading Method of EVERY Child. It is an excellent phonics method that consists of a strong basic approach to phonics and the use of developmental readers. It is a phonics first method that makes use of some unique techniques that have been found valuable in helping students who might not be successful with other programs. 


HANDWRITING

It is a little known fact that manuscript handwriting was introduced to the mainstream American classrooms beginning in 1922 when a lady by the name of Marjorie Wise brought it to our shores from England. I have published a small essay by Samuel Blumenfeld with some additions of my own concerning the advantages of teaching cursive first: Cursive First. The A Beka Book company until recently was the only major educational publisher that taught cursive-first. Mr. Blumenfeld tells me that the A Beka Book followed his advice to teach cursive-first, beginning with first-grade. He says they went him one better and tried it experimentally with kindergarten. The experiment proved an overwhelming success so they make it their standard curriculum. Christian schools everywhere will welcome this traditional cursive-first approach to good penmanship. Good instruction in cursive-first will go a long way toward preventing and curing whole-word dyslexia. I speak from experience when I recommend cursive-first because Mrs. Pearl Monroe, my beloved first-grader teacher, taught me cursive-first, just like she did my dad. I have published two FREE cursive programs: Alpha-Phonics Cursive and Shortcut to Cursive. I was taught fluent cursive in 1953 in first-grade, so I speak from first hand experience concerning the advantages of cursive-first. It is interesting that the best dyslexia programs, such as Take Flight and Herman, use cursive only because of its effectiveness in helping dyslexics. I am convinced it is helpful for kids with ADHD. I use my Shortcut to Cursive, mentioned above, with ALL the students new to our school so they can begin doing ALL their work in fluent cursive as soon as possible. I also have a complete but highly abbreviated approach to teaching cursive: Direct Path to Cursive, which dispenses with words but teaches all letter strokes and connecting strokes. Practice words are included as a separate section for real word writing practice. The program has proven VERY successful with all my tutoring students. 

Spanish Language Resources for Parents

Since I teach Spanish from ages four and up, I am always looking for good materials to use with all these ages. A recent publication, Little PIM Fun with Languages, is especially geared for toddlers. It is available in Spanish, French, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, and English. Order your copy at Little PIM Fun With Languages

Resources of a General Character

I am delighted that the good folk at A Beka Book have republished Samuel Blumenfeld’s important essay, “Who Killed Excellence.” Every Christian School teacher and homeschool parent needs to read this essay carefully. 

Those interested in promoting private education will appreciate this "Testimony before the House & Senate Committees on the Proposed Department of Education" (1926) by J. Grecham Machen (1881 - 1937). Machen was a stalwart of conservative Christianity. His views on the establishment of the "Department of Education" may come as a surprise to those of us who attended and taught in public schools. I find it very revealing that the private schools across America use textbooks that are superior to those used by the public schools, although the public schools have the tremendous advantage of government financing. Over the years, I have supplemented my textbook adoptions with materials generally used by private schools and homeschool parents because of their obvious superiority. An example of good textbooks available to Christian Schools and home schoolers are those from A Beka Book and Rod and Staff.

Mechen also wrote an important book entitled, Christianity and Liberalism which explains the dangers of placing education in the hands of the government. 

Everyone interested in improving the education of the children of America need to read Samuel Blumenfeld's excellent book, Is Public Education Necessary. This book is an well researched eye-opener. Dr. Blumenfeld is publishing a new book entitled, Crimes of Education, which will be published the first of 2015. 

Dorthy Sayers wrote a very important essay on education, The Lost Tools of Learning, concerning the Trivium. Harvey Bluedorn has published fine material explaining how the Trivium can be applied by what he calls Classical Christian Education.

Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon. by Robin S. Eubanks. A thrilling and informative journey into the real purpose behind today's education, and why private education is so important for the future of America. Also check out her blog: Invisible Serfs Collar

Education, Liberty, and the Bible by Martin G. Selbrede. A Position Paper from The Chalcedon Foundation. 

Education: Free and Compulsory by Murry N. Rothbard the Ludwig von Mises Institute. This book gets to the heart of the matter. 

Here are some great articles concerning Christian Education

Page last revised 4/11/2016.