I’ve had a busy summer “vacation.” Typically I like to take a big trip somewhere. Past summers I’ve gone to Europe for a month or California for awhile. Last summer I finished my Masters! This summer I knew a big trip wasn’t going to happen, plus my sister is having a baby and some good friends are getting married. So, I signed up for some extra tasks.
I’m excited because next year, my 5th year teaching, will be my first year where I return to a position that looks largely like my position did the prior year.
I have been working on:
1. Special Education Handbook
I am part of the team that is creating one for our district.
2. Xoom Learning Group
I have a Motorolla Xoom that I am familiarizing myself with and trying out apps that I will use next year in the classroom and during team meetings. I am excited to get this into the hands of my students. I see portable learning devices like tablet computers and smart phones having tremendous capabilities at helping students with disabilities compensate for their deficits.
3. Technology and my PDP
I’ve been playing around with different technological tools and thinking about how I will use them in the classroom, to support learning, as professional development tools, and to improve my organization. Some of them include:
Finally, blogging, Google Docs, and Google Calendar.
4. Reading Program
I am combining what I’ve learned by observing other reading teachers, books I’ve read, and curricular programs I am familiar with into a program that needs to be effective with 7th and 8th graders that continue to struggle with (and often dislike) reading.
5. Co-teaching 7th grade Language Arts
I am collaborating with another teacher at my school to prepare for co-teaching this upcoming school year.
6. Organizing, organizing, organizing
I organized many, many files in my classroom. I also am organizing digital files on my work computer, home computer, and Google Docs.
7. Reading, reading, reading
I am reading articles that have gathered on my desk over the school year. I am reading teacher books. I am also reading popular YA novels and other books just for fun!
This summer I have had the pleasure of collaborating with another 7th grade teacher at my middle school. We will be co-teaching 3rd hour Language Arts next year – and possibly 4th hour as well. I think we are both excited to try something new and look forward to: having another adult in the classroom in order to help each other out, better support individual learning needs of students, share in the workload (grading, parent contact, planning, etc.), exchange knowing looks, and take bathroom breaks.
We’ve been lucky to be provided paid work time for collaboration this summer! This is a new experience for both of us. I know that making it work will be hard work and there are many components that contribute to the success of co-teaching. I was not sure where to start with this process and so I did what I do best – research. I’ve found a lot of great resources on how to effectively co-teach and I’d like to share them.
1. “Middle School Co-Teaching: Effective Practices and Student Reflections” Middle School Journal, March 2011
This is where I started. This is an article that I had a copy of sitting on my desk all year, but no time to read until the summer. It was a great summary of how two middle school teachers started and have made the process of co-teaching work. It also contains student reflections on the co-taught classes.
2. “Communicating and Collaborating in Co-Taught Classrooms” Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, May 2009
3. “50 Ways to Keep Your Co-Teacher” Teaching Exceptional Children, March/April 2008
4. “Using Co-Planning Time: Strategies for a Successful Co-Teaching Marriage” Teaching Exceptional Children Plus, March 2009
5. “Lousiana’s Co-Teaching Resource Guide” Lousiana Department of Education, April 2011
The digital version of this file has many useful links to documents that make great tools for regular education teachers, special education teachers, and administrators who are working on creating co-teaching environments. (Especially under the “Planning for Classroom Teachers” section, p. 15 and “Effectiveness of Implementation” section p. 29-30)
I have decided I need to have a teaching blog. I am hoping to use this site for many purposes. I want to use it for my own organization of strategies and reflection on what I know and learn as I teach. Additionally, I want to use it to communicate with students and parents. I plan to use it to also share useful links. I am investigating the option of posting homework or class news to the blog. I am currently working on my Professional Development Plan for the WI Department of Public Instruction. My professional development plan involves using technology to improve instruction, organization, and student learning. I hope this blog will help me to do that.