These are some of my most popular and useful Back-To-School posts:
First Day of School Scavenger Hunt – Great ice breaker that gets kids out of their seats and helps you get to know your students. Download the PDF to customize it for your grade.
Updated Scavenger Hunts – Three levels of first day scevenger hunts to meet the needs of your particular students.
Identifying Student Learning Styles – Two links to PDF learning style inventories and one link to an online tool for determining how your students learn best.
I am a Squiggle Stuck Inside a Square – Another great ice breaker that encourages teamwork. Middle schoolers love this one. Hopefully you have a nice mix of shapes in your classroom.
I Gave Schoology a Chance – A graphic that shows all of the ways I have used Schoology in my classroom. I just realized my old course from last year was wiped out, so this will be a helpful post for me!
Team Teaching Options – Descriptions of five ways to team teach.
Summarizing Short Stories: Story Elements and Conflict – Free PDFs for these basic concepts that are often introduced in Language Arts at the beginning of the year.
Easy Access – This link will take you to one place to find everything that is free. Wait!! Everything is FREE on All Access Pass!! Go here to find an organized list of downloads.
Do you have a favorite Back-To-School post or a post that is wildly popular on your own teaching blog?
Post a link in the comments!
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?
One our favorite family movies is Sky High (starring Lynda Powers, a.k.a. Wonder Woman, as Principal Powers.)
In this movie, each student possesses some sort of super power (and of course will have to work together to save the world.)
The scene below is on the first day of school when the students are gathered together to demonstrate their skills and be placed in the appropriate track….either “Hero” or “Sidekick.”
Principal Powers: In a few moments, you will go through Power Placement and your own heroic journey will begin.
Will Stronghold: Power Placement?
Layla: Sounds fascist.
Ethan: Power Placement. It’s how they decide where you go.
Magenta: The hero track or the loser track.
Will Stronghold: There – there’s a loser track?
Ethan: I believe the preferred term is “Hero Support.”
In the inclusion setting, intervention teachers are often the “sidekick”. However, if you watch the whole movie, you will see that the sidekicks are a vital part of the plot.
I am lucky to be a sidekick to Captain Algebra (her identity must remain secret to protect the citizens). She presents content in a heroic fashion while I provide support.
If you are an inclusion teacher, here are some tips for being the best hero support you can be:
Provide alternative views, tricks, and tips during lesson – Don’t be afraid to interject during the lesson. It’s something that takes time to develop. After you work with the same teachers for a few years, it will become more natural to add your two cents during a lesson. I often share mnemonic devices or crazy things that we make up in our intervention study hall that will be helpful to everyone in the inclusion class.
Be a role model – Ask questions and encourage discussion. When there is a lull in the discussion or you know students must surely be wondering (but not asking questions) throw out your own questions for the teacher. Kids will usually start talking when they think they know more than you.
Read minds – Think like the students….What doesn’t seem clear? What misconceptions do they have? As you walk around the room and look at student work you can see common mistakes and verbalize this to the teacher by “thinking out loud.” “Oh…..So you mean that I have to multiply by the reciprocal instead of dividing?”
Help citizens in need – Sit down with a student who is struggling and offer some one-on-one time while the teacher goes on ahead with the rest of the class. Sometimes if a student has missed a day or two they really need the instruction of the missed lessons before they can proceed with the current lesson.
Are you a hero or a sidekick in the classroom?
What are your responsibilities as an inclusion teacher?
If you are a regular classroom teacher, how do you utilize your inclusion teacher?