When I was in the classroom everyday working with students, I commonly would hear others mention articles they read on various educational blogs and websites. Sure, over long breaks or over the summer I did all kinds of educational reading, but rarely during a typical five-day week: I was too consumed with teaching five periods a day; planning lessons for each of my three preps; connecting with parents; attending IEP meetings, staff meetings, PLC meetings, BLT meetings, department meetings... I consistently found myself wondering, Where do they find the time?
As we approach Thanksgiving, I find it fitting to share one resource that I now find invaluable: a resource that has made it manageable for me to stay on top of my online professional reading (even during those busy five-day weeks). This resource, introduced to me last year by one of our Instructional Technologists, is called Feedly, and I am extremely thankful that it has found its way into my life.
This both application and online-based resource compiles news feeds from a wide variety of online sources so that users can access recently posted content all in one spot. It also makes it easy for users to categorize their feeds, save articles for reading later, and to share items out via social media tools or email. Accessible online, via Andriod and iOS, I have Feedly booked-marked on my computer, as well as uploaded onto my phone and my iPad: this allows me to check my feed from pretty much anywhere at any time, no matter what device I have with me. Plus, I often find myself simply glancing at headings on the quick while I wait in a long line, while waiting for a meeting to start, or while getting the occasional pedicure and then using Feedly’s “save for later” feature: this allows me to return to these articles when I have more time available to sit down, focus, and actually read each one.
The images above show how Feedly varies depending on which device it's being accessed from.
Left is my computer view, middle is my phone view, and right is my iPad view.
With Feedly in my life no longer is my computer's bookmarks bar filled with all the blogs and educational websites that I intend to read but rarely get to. Now, all my online professional reading is stored in one spot. Indeed, Feedly, with the befitting moto “never stop learning,” is a tool that this educator is glad to have in her toolbox.
Below, find a short tutorial on Feedly, outlining the basics as well as highlighting some of my favorite functions (this tutorial views Feedly from a desktop computer).
You can access Feedly by clicking on any of the three buttons below.
If you’re interested in exploring Feedly further, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or one of our Instructional Technologist. Trust me, this resource will minimize how often you find yourself asking, Where do they find the time? (Well, at least when it comes keeping on top of online professional reading.)
This post brought to you by Heather Lyke, Secondary Implementation Associate
In my role as a Library Media Specialist, I have the privilege of spending time in many different classes and collaborating with teachers in a variety of ways. In my position, collaborative teaching is based on specific needs in a class or department, rather than on the stipulations of an assignment or master schedule. For instance, a teacher might approach me to co-teach a lesson on using and citing sources in academic writing; to collaborate on integrating information literacy skills into a new unit; or to work intensively with a few students on strategies for reading nonfiction. Although I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject of collaborative teaching, it is a skill which I have the opportunity to exercise frequently and in which I’ve done some reading and research.
In this post, I will use “collaborative teaching” and “co-teaching” more or less interchangeably. By these terms, I mean coordinated instruction that is done by two or more educators simultaneously with a given group of students. In some cases, co-teaching is done by a general education teacher and a special education teacher, but the practice is much more far-reaching and adaptable.
There are many benefits to collaborative teaching, some of which you may have encountered in your own experience. Anne Beninghof, the author of Co-Teaching That Works: Structures and Strategies for Maximizing Student Learning, writes that benefits for students include improved instruction, enhanced differentiation, and increased access to teacher support. Not to be overlooked is the benefit to teachers that Beninghof emphasizes: professional growth (10-13).
In every school community, there are many people with skills and knowledge different from our own. Through collaborative teaching partnerships, we can tap into these resources and provide our students with deeper and richer learning experiences. Possible co-teaching partners might include: instructional technology specialists, library media specialists, gifted and talented specialists, literacy specialists, instructional coaches, counselors, social workers, success coaches, EL teachers, special education teachers, other general education teachers, minority liaisons, administrators, paraprofessionals, parents or community members, or even students. If you find yourself struggling with an instructional dilemma or content snafu, or are just looking for a new teaching experience, consider reaching out to one of these individuals in your school community.
Collaborative Teaching Models
There are numerous models to depict the array of collaborative teaching tactics. Beninghof describes nine different models for co-teaching in her book, detailing pros and cons for each. However, in the interest of simplicity (and brevity!), I tend to refer most often to the six approaches described by Marilyn Friend in her book Co-Teach! A Handbook for Creating and Sustaining Effective Classroom Partnerships in Inclusive Schools. These models are:
One Teach, One Observe
In this practice, one instructor observes the goings-on of the classroom and collects data either formally or informally on a pre-arranged area of focus. The roles may also reverse at some agreed-upon point. It is key that the two teachers debrief following the lesson. This tactic is often used in instructional coaching practice, but does not have to be exclusive to this relationship. Perhaps creating an opportunity for an EL teacher or technology integrationist to observe your lesson would assist in devising new ways to reach your students.
In this practice, each instructor presents different content to a smaller group of students. Additional stations may have students working individually or in small groups. The groups may rotate to each station or the stations may be devised to present differentiated instruction to specific groups of students. Although stations may occur within the same classroom, an alternate version is to have spaces designated in several places in the building (such as in the classroom and the Library Media Center). I’ve had success with teaching an isolated research skill like note-taking as an intervention or extension activity for students selected based on their point of need.
With parallel teaching, both instructors simultaneously present the same material to a divided portion of the class. This model may be selected in order to differentiate instruction, to facilitate a small-group discussion, or to provide students with more focused attention from a teacher.
This model features a small group of students working with one teacher while the other instructor teaches the majority of the class. This style of co-teaching can create scenarios in which students can catch up on missed content, receive supplemental instruction, and receive highly focused customization. This model is commonly employed with various specialists as they call pull out students for targeted work on academic, behavioral, or social skills
This approach is often considered to be the most challenging to implement, as it involves wholly shared responsibilities for planning, teaching, re-teaching, and assessing. This model embraces the diversity of skills and aptitudes brought by each instructor, while ensuring each has opportunity to shine. Successful implementation of this model results in a classroom and lesson that are shared equally between two individuals.
One Teach, One Assist
In this model, there is a clear lead teacher whose instruction is supplemented by the expertise of another. Often this approach results in one teacher leading the lesson while the second instructor circles the classroom to provide clarification and support, as needed. Sometimes I am invited into this model when a teacher feels a lack of confidence in their knowledge of a particular topic (such as the recent changes to the MLA citation style and handbook).
These six models do not exist in silos, and teachers may move among several different approaches in a given unit, week, or even in a single lesson. The selection of one co-teaching model over another can be based on the skills or personalities of the teachers involved; the time available for planning and implementing the lesson; and the specific needs of the students. Ideally, collaborators consider all of these elements before selecting instructional strategies.
Challenges and Opportunities
Collaborative teaching can create deep learning experiences for students, but I’ve found that it seldom requires less planning time than developing a lesson in isolation. However, my most rewarding teaching experiences are those in which I had the opportunity to collaborate deeply with a colleague who possessed very different skills and knowledge than I. Together, we planned, created, and delivered material that neither of us could have created individually. If you find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of co-teaching, perhaps dip your toe in by approaching a trusted colleague and brainstorming new ways to approach a single objective or lesson.
In Interactions: Collaboration Skill for School Professionals, Marilyn Friend and Lynne Cook emphasize that the strong collaboration is voluntary, based on mutual goals, and dependent upon shared responsibility and strong communication (6-11). Above all, collaborators should share a desire to improve the learning experience for their students. With this as the starting place, flexibility and cooperation flow naturally, and meaningful student learning abounds.
This post brought to you by Ellen Range, Media Specialist at Century High School
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The National Research Council's (NRC) Framework describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science. It presents three dimensions that are combined to form each standard. In my last post I suggested that you allow for inquiry learning while controlling the conditions in the classroom. In this post I would like to offer an example of how that might be done with a common lab on “density” that is done in most physical science classrooms. I will then use the Three Dimensional Learning Model of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to evaluate each method as listed. My hope is that you will use this comparison to see how simple it is to change a traditional activity into an inquiry based activity that meets the three dimensions of NGSS.
To honor brevity in this post, I will not go into full description of each of the three dimensions, but I will use each to evaluate the two labs. The NGSS three dimensions of learning include Science & Engineeing Practices (SEP), Cross-Cutting Concepts (CCC), and Disciplanary Core Ideas (DCI), which all science students should be profficient in by the end of their K-12 instruction. The three dimensions are used continuously throughout science learning and are meant to be interactively blended in K-12 science instruction.
An example of a traditional method for teaching students the concept of density is listed in column ‘A’, whereas an example of an inquiry based method is listed in column ‘B’.
Below, I have highlighted—in yellow—the most obvious components of the NGSS that are met by using a three dimensional inquiry based instructional method (the part of the Physical Science DCI PS 1 related to density is used for this example). I have also highlighted—in aqua—the most obvious components met by both the traditional and the inquiry based methods for this activity.
I argue that the additional yellow-highlighted standards above can only be met by the use of inquiry based three dimensional instruction in science. I would like to invite you to try and implement an inquiry based activity in the near future and to evaluate it based upon the NGSS three dimensions of learning.
Feel free to reasearch the NGSS to deepen your understanding of three dimensional learning. Also, should you have questions about the ideas or concepts in this post, please reach out to me at any time.
This post brought to you by Dan Devine, Secondary Implementation Associate
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