Saturday, October 26, 2013

Math in the co-teaching classroom

I'm sharing two different videos that show how math practices & standards associated with the CCSS are implemented in a 4th grade and a 5th grade classroom.  Both classrooms use 1:1 digital devices. While it's tempting to be impressed by the bells and whistles for both the students and the teachers
(great productivity apps in the 5th grade video!), the remarkable feature in both videos is the responsiveness to students.  Both teaching pairs begin with assessment. They provide instruction that is blended and self-paced, but also incorporate varied strategies to scaffold learning.  Clearly, each teacher instructs and prepares materials for all students and takes responsibility for all learning in these classrooms.  Through responsive teaching, providing adaptations for all students, and immediate feedback on learning, there is a heightened increase for opportunity to learn.  The co-teaching pairs have collaborated on assessment, instruction, and adaptations for learning.

4th grade: Math Clinics

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Redefining teaching and learning

We use the SAMR model to gauge how technology has
enhanced learning.  I visited a co-teaching middle school language arts classroom
today along with visitors from another school district learning how to
begin co-teaching.  As it happened, we stumbled upon a great
example of redefinition.
The co-teachers had asked teachers from their feeder elementary schools to consider recording book trailers that could be used in class
to inspire the middle school students to want to read.  Mrs. K, from an elementary school appeared on the SmartBoard of this LA classroom and began to talk about Star Girl.  She read an excerpt from the bookand told about her own feelings of awkwardness as a middle school girl.  The students, who have been recording titles of books that they may want to read after hearing the book trailer, were hastily recording the title, Star Girl. 
Great use of "duet teaching" with technology
redefining the learning.  Book trailers, prepared
by the students' elementary teachers, brought the
level of student engagement up immeasurably. Here's
a little snipet


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Interventions and SPED label

I am often asked about providing the services of reading specialists to our students with identified special needs.  It seems to be a long-held belief that once a student has an IEP, the student shouldn't get services from a reading specialist.

Reading Recovery is a tier 3 intervention.  It's a 1:1, 30 minute per day, 5 days a week program that can last from 12-20 weeks.  The goal is to get the first grade student to grade level within that period of time.  It is an incredible program, I believe,  because of the professional development that the reading specialist receives.  The PD is job-embedded, data driven, responsive to the student and teacher's needs, and the teacher gets rich feedback.  Students are chosen for Reading Recovery through a selection process that hides the identity of the students, with the first grade team looking at the testing results of the lowest performing first graders at the start of the year, and then again, at mid-year.

This year's identification at my school resulted in including two students with IEP's and 6 students without IEPs. Both boys with SPED needs come from homes where Spanish is the primary language spoken. The boy in this video, Gilbert has been at our school for 3 years.  He was in pre-k for 2 years, a co-taught kindergarten, and now he's in a co-taught first grade.  He was quite a handful in pre-k with limited language skills and was very disruptive and aggressive.  With a great deal of support in the classroom and to his family, he was receptive to learning in kindergarten and finished with his reading readiness skills only several months delayed.

Reading Recovery is the only reading intervention that has proven research behind it.  We are going to give our little guys our very best!  Here's Gilbert reading after only a week of RR.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Starting the year in the co-teaching classroom

“You can’t teach a child to swim in a parking lot.” That statement was made by a man with cerebral palsey.  As a child, he was placed in a “language classroom” in which not one of the students could speak.  His speech pathologists gave him strategies to make his speech more intelligible, however, he was unable to use those strategies until he went home and interacted with the neighborhood kids.  Fortunately, his parents eventually advocated for him to be in a general ed classroom so that he could verbally interact with his peers.

We don’t ever want to go back to that era. 

As I visit our co-teaching classrooms and consider the benefit to our kids—all of them, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the work behind the scenes.

Teambuilding: It’s very important, especially in a classroom with a great deal of diversity that teachers work deliberately to develop a sense of community.  These students begin every morning with a greeting to launch their morning meeting.

Meeting with specials teachers, recess staff, lunchroom staff, etc.:  The school social worker and I met with the science, music, PE, and ESL teacher so that we could share information regarding all of the students with behavior or learning needs.  The ensuing discussion helped to stress the importance of staying in the “adult voice” as well as being a calming influence.

Planning and consideration of the role each of the co-teachers takes during various lessons and workshop times:  This lesson plan template can be used by co-teachers to help guide them in planning.  co-teaching planning template