Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Walking You Through a Co-Taught Lesson

My official job here at Jahn is the Inclusion Facilitator. My role is to support the middle school specifically and the school in general in the switch from what you might call a resource room model to a more inclusive, co-taught, heterogeneous one. This year is much more about supporting and coaching staff. I don't have a case load and I don't have a co-teacher. But I LOVE co-teaching. I absolutely love it! I have been providing supports in Ms. Shultz's social studies class and it's just been the most fun! We co-taught the other day and although it wasn't a particularly fancy or frilly lesson- it was affective. Below is my step by step process for how to think about co-teaching a lesson. Beware- it's pretty gushy!

Step for Co-Teaching According to Julia Snider:

1. Each co-teacher comes to the table with a particular expertise.

Ms. Shultz sent me this video to introduce her early explorers unit. Ms. Shultz came to the table with resources and content knowledge.

I told her that I knew how to teach Cornell Notes and had a handout available (thanks to my awesome former co-teacher, Fred Hackmann). I came to the table with a learning strategy.

2. Teachers have a plan for how they are going to share the stage. 

I stood (well.. sat in Ms. Shultz's comfy chair) by the computer and was going to be in charge of introducing and talking about Cornell Notes.

Ms. Shultz stood by the piece of chart paper and was going to be in charge of making a master example of Cornell Notes.

I asked students to, "Make your paper look like Ms. Shultz's."

3. Teachers collaborate during the lesson. 

Look, this was my first time co-teaching with Ms. Shultz. At the time of the first lesson, I had known her for less than three weeks. It takes time to get to know your co-teacher. The only way you can really know what works is to talk it out. In front of the kids. One of the greatest things we can do as co-teachers is to model to our students how to collaborate, solve problems, and work with one another. I absolutely loved turning to Ms. Shultz and asking her if she has a different way to explain writing a summary or if she has something else to add. Co-teaching is as awesome as it is because it involves actually showing students what working together really looks like. When Ms. Shultz didn't know if I would have students watch the video more than once in order to take notes, she asked me! Out loud! In front of the class! And it was awesome!

4. Differentiation and modifications are implemented.

An important part of co-teaching is making sure that modifications are implemented smoothly. It is important to make sure that differentiated work is presented in a manner that fits within classroom routines. Every student has a Do Now warm up to complete at the beginning of each lesson and an Exit Slip to complete at the end. The structure is universally designed so that every student can share their thinking. Every student is given their Do Now and Exit Slip sheet. Typically this looks like a sheet of paper. In some cases, it's an iPad. We use Co:Writer on an iPad for some students to answer their Do Now and Exit Slips. Their prompts are modified and they share their writing via Dropbox.

Just a quick plug for Co:Writer on the iPad. Students can get Co:Writer after being evaluated for Assistive Technology. However, you can also go onto the App Store on your tablet and purchase a copy for $20.00. It's a bit pricey but it's absolutely worth it. Co:Writer is a word prediction software that helps struggling readers and spellers predict the correct word that they want to spell. It also reads everything aloud and allows students to upload their work to Dropbox. This is a great way to work on IEP goals and keep track of student work. I highly recommend it! 

5. Repeat

Co-teaching can be incredibly satisfying and enjoyable for students and teachers alike. Two students told me today that the social studies class is their favorite class! Talk about what worked, be honest about what didn't, and get ready to try it again. The more you get up and collaborate in front of the students (which is in my opinion what co-teaching is really all about), the more comfortable and confident you will feel. Enjoy! 

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