True or False?
- There is no one way to team teach.
- There is no magic formula for team teaching.
- The success of team teaching has many factors.
- There are many forms and variations of team teaching.
- Team teaching is a lot of work.
Answers: ALL TRUE!
My boyfriend is a 5th grade teacher and is going to be “team teaching” this year with another 5th grade teacher.
He sent me a text early yesterday morning asking me to help him out and research team teaching for my blog.
He came to the right girl. I am very lucky to be in my 4th year with the same Pre-Algebra teacher and we are getting better and better at team teaching each year.
So, what will this look like? What are his options?
Traditional Team Teaching – “You teach and I will assist.”
This is like the magician and the lovely assistant, or the hero and hero support. In this situation, the classroom teacher is at the SMARTBoard teaching a lesson on graphing. I walk around the room keeping my eye open for students who need assistance with their graphs. This is a good model to use when, as the intervention specialist, you are not an “expert” in the content or when students are working on something independently. For more on being hero support in the regular classroom, click here.
Splitting the Class for Differentiation – “You take the big group and I’ll take the small group.”
We do this a lot in Pre-Algebra. The classroom teacher will keep the majority of the students and work through more advanced problems and I will take a handful who need more practice on a basic concept. Sometimes this is decided on the spot, after we check our homework. Other times, it is planned out ahead of time based on a quiz, test, or classroom performance. My group may not get as far as her group and sometimes we assign different homework.
This team teaching strategy allows us to change the presentation, add strategies, or use alternative worksheets with different groups of students. For example, the larger group may work on Practice C or the Challenge worksheet while the smaller group works on Practice B or another review sheet. Sometimes, the small group will start the independent practice together – doing one of each type of problem on the worksheet to be sure students know what to do for each section. This is also a good time for me to read word problems out loud and work on reading comprehension strategies with those who need it.
Parallel Instruction – “Divide and conquer.”
This works well if you want to provide more individualized attention to students or work in a smaller group setting. We always find it interesting how the participation level goes way up when we split the class. Students who normally do not participate crawl out of the woodwork and hands shoot up when we use this model.
This year we have 32 students in our Pre-Algebra block which is a lot of students. A reduced class size of 16 is so much nicer. We don’t necessarily break the class into high/low groups, although we do sometimes split up talkative friends. Our goal is to stick to the same content and get through the same amount of work. Obviously, we each have our own style of delivery, but the student task is essentially the same.
This model also works well when we are making some sort of manipulative or graphic organizer.
Stations – “Keep ’em moving. Keep ’em learning.”
Learning stations are a lot of work to create and monitor. However, in an 84 minute period you have time for 4 20-minute stations, which is a good length of time for students to remain on a particular task before they get bored. We are a big fan of stations. Our favorite set of stations includes:
- An iPad activity (either an instructional video or game)
- An extended response station where students receive a grade for their work
- A station where students must evaluate/grade 4 to 5 sample answers to an extended response. We use old test questions and sample answers from the rubrics and students have to determine the points that would be given for each response.
- A multiple choice station or other type of worksheet to practice a skill
Sometimes we both just rotate around the stations as needed. Other times, we each monitor two specific stations. We have also done just two stations – one in her room and one in mine – and we switch halfway through the period.
True Co-Teaching – “The perfect duet”
This model is the hardest and will only work in the most ideal situations where teaching styles, personalities, and philosophies blend nicely. It is not natural and it is hard to come by. If we would pull this off successfully, it would almost as if a script was written for the lesson. This takes an immense amount of common planning time, a good working relationship, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say a strong friendship as well.
Have you had a good team teaching experience?
What models do you use for team teaching?
What do you think is the most important thing that must be in place for team teaching to work?
Our school is piloting a Bring Your Own Technology program this fall.
I am very excited about this and have made a list of ideas for this fall. However, in my position, I am not sure what to expect in terms of my students and the devices they will have available to them.
Students are not required to bring their own technology and teachers are not required to use it. For those without personal devices, we still have 2.5 computer labs available and a cart of 20 laptops that have been vandalized. (We are hoping that students will take better care of their own technology???)
And at this time, I still do not know what I am teaching this fall. School starts in less than a month (no official countdown at this time) and I don’t have a schedule. I don’t know which teachers, which subjects, or which grade levels I will be working with. (This has been the hardest part of my summer…not knowing.)
Despite this, I have created a survey for whatever class I may end up in. I plan to share this with my co-teachers and other staff members as I am also on the technology committee.
This BYOT First Day Survey will help us get a better feel for what we can do in our classrooms with BYOT.Afterthought: Thinking about this today during professional development, I think I need to add a question texting/data packages. If they do not have unlimited texting or unlimited data, we would need to keep that in mind.
- Intro to the First Week of BYOT (byotnetwork.com)
- Building BYOT (mossfreestone.com)
- Getting Teachers and Parents Comfortable with BYOT (insidetheclassroomoutsidethebox.wordpress.com)
- Top 10 requirements for great mobile BYOT/BYOD (clouducation.wordpress.com)
- 5 Best Practices for BYOT in the Classroom (insidetheclassroomoutsidethebox.wordpress.com)
- First 5 Lessons Learned In Our First Year Of BYOT (myweb4ed.net)
One way to assess students is through rubrics. Rubrics tell students exactly how they will be graded and therefore, exactly what they need to do. Rubrics can also be used by the teacher to evaluate student growth or achievement on a particular skill. If a teacher wanted to assess their teaching or lesson planning, there are rubrics for that too.
Rubrics are about quality: quality learning and quality teaching.
You can use Rubistar to create rubrics. This is a great starting place and the tool I normally use. Rubistar has over 50 customizable rubrics. The process is quick and easy. Below are a few screen shots with captions the explain the features.
Once you are familiar with the content and layout of a rubric, making one in Word may be just as easy, especially if you are just changing a few things. I have included a few sample rubrics below for you to download and tinker with.
- Consider the weight of each category. (Should neatness be worth the same as content?)
- The rubric should be passed out with the assignment.
- Explain the rubric to your students.
- Read through each category with the students. Give them hypothetical situations (If Jeff includes only 3 examples what score will he receive? How long does the paper have to be in order to earn 4 points?)
- Ideally, students need to hang onto the rubric and turn it in with the final product. Be prepared: have extra copies on hand.
- Have students evaluate their work with the rubric before turning it in.
One of the learning tools I love to use the most is also one of my students’ favorites: dry erase boards.
Three years ago I bought a large 4′ x 8′ sheet of hardboard at Lowe’s for around $11.00. For a minimal fee they cut the board into 32 12″x 12″ boards. I think the total bill was less than $15.00. I purchased economy packs of wash cloths at Dollar General. While dry erase markers can be pricey, our team has them on the supply list (1 pack of 4 for each student). We put these markers in a huge basket and they are for general use in the classroom.
We use these boards almost every day in some capacity.
Any paper/pencil activity that can be put on the SMART Board can be done on a dry erase board. (Especially good for grammar, math problems, multiple choice activities, and fill in the blank type worksheets)
I have my students write an occasional short answer/extended response/journal entry on a dry erase board. I love when students ask if they can get another board because they don’t have room for everything they want to say.
I use them with our online textbook. It’s not very easy to get computer time in our building but by using the SMART Board and the dry erase markers, I can easily use tutorials, review activities, and vocabulary lessons with the whole class.
Dry erase boards are also a great way to do formative assessment. It’s very easy to get an overview of how well the students grasped the daily lesson.
So let me sum it up:
Pros of dry erase boards
+ Less paper/pencil tasks
+ Less photo copying and less waste
+ Allows for movement around the room (Sometimes they can sit on the back counter, the floor, away from their desks)
+ Accountability (“Everybody, boards UP!”)
+ Engaging (Everyone can answer every question, not just one student)
+ Forgiving (It’s easy to erase mistakes and try again)
Cons of dry erase boards
– Not practical for graded assignments
– Kids love to doodle. (I admit I am a “doodler”. You should see my decorated notes from staff meetings!)
– The markers stink! (I strongly recommend specifically putting low-odor markers on your supply list