Supersource!: Innovations for Teaching Literacy in the ELA and Special Education Classroom

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For many students in Georgia, today is the first day of school, which is the case for my district. Thankfully, students are going into classrooms like my friend’s, McCall Grosso. McCall is one of the most talented language arts teachers I have ever witnessed. Her ability to build relationships with students and get those students to believe in themselves is unparalleled. I am so thankful she was able to write this guest post today that highlights the work she and another teacher are doing at their school. The program they have developed is necessary for growing literacy skills with students who face academic challenges and in most cases, simply haven’t found the right book yet. McCall’s innovative and collaborative approach is both inspiring and a model for what could and should be done to elevate every student and promote literacy across learning levels. Please read on–I promise you will end feeling inspired! Continue reading

Get Your Air Horn Ready: Debate Is Now in Session

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by Dr. Kim Foster

“It. Was. Awesome.”

Let me paint a picture for you. It’s April. There are three weeks of school left for my senior students. To use one student’s exact words, he is beyond ready to “low-key get on up out of this building.” And I understand. I was a senior in high school once. I was a senior in college once. And I was 8 months pregnant defending my dissertation once. I get it. They want to be done, and I want that for them. They have earned it! However, we have three weeks left together, and I want these weeks to be meaningful. So, as I have for the past three years with seniors, we do a debate unit at the end of the year. “Arguing” with one another keeps them highly engaged. They want to win. They want to be right. Continue reading

Revisiting Banksy (Again): Leveraging Visual Literacy & Documentary to Promote Critical Thinking

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As part of working on a publication that comes out later this year, I worked closely with my colleague and friend, Glenn Chance, in his classroom where he trusted me to help him implement work with visual literacy and connecting it to the work he was doing with memoir. Since I currently do not have my own ELA classroom, I truly appreciate Glenn allowing me to invade his planning and class time. There were several goals of this project and unit, but in today’s post I am only going to concentrate on how we developed visual literacy skills for students and how we partnered them with both memoir, author’s purpose, and documentary. Inside the post there is a breakdown of what we did and or reflections on those actions from our planning and class time in hopes what is shared can help you in your classroom or at the very least continue the conversation for the value of the explicit instruction of visual literacy. For anyone attending GCTE this year, we’ll be presenting this information there as well. Continue reading

Updates: Developing the Work Force through Work Based Learning, Researching Peritext, & The Studio Reunion II Rescheduled (Finally)

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So it’s been a month.

The culmination of a busy season at work, being a dad, writing chapters for books, and conducting research really pushed blog posting to the very back of my to-do list. I have a few interesting pieces I hope to get up on the blog shortly, but in the meantime, here are a few updates in which I think a few of you might be interested. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #8: “True Collaboration: The Magic of Planning, Designing, and Teaching Alongside Colleagues”

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The 8th post of my Summer Teacher Innovation Series comes from another ELA colleague, mentor, and friend, Nadine Bell. Nadine has been teaching nearly 30 years and shows zero signs of slowing down! I had the pleasure of working closely with her the last two years, working alongside her on the 9th grade ELA course team and as regular collaborator for academy-related planning. Nadine is everything you would want from a veteran teacher–knowledgeable, collaborative, wise, and reflective. She also breaks all the negative stereotypes often unfairly lobbed at veteran educators. As you will read in today’s post, she hates the idea of her practice being left to stagnate, so when you come to her with a harebrained scheme of how to start changing a few teaching paradigms in your school building, well, she says ‘yes!’ The practice Nadine shares today is hopefully the shape of what is to come in our schoolhouse where teachers bring classes together to co-teach content based on those teachers’ strengths. I am very excited to share this post. Enjoy!

Previous Series Entries: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5 // Part 6 // Part 7

by Nadine Bell

Jeff Spence is the former COO and president of Innovolt, a specialty company who patented intelligent electronics management technology, and current CEO of NexDefense, and is an expert on facilitating collaboration as a business model in the corporate sector. As I listened to Spence share his partnering with Gwinnett County Public Schools to introduce this model into the classroom, I couldn’t help but think this is what should be happening in the co-taught setting (the least restrictive environment for a special education student where the general education teacher works with a special education resource teacher to meet the needs of a student(s) Individualized Educational Plan (IEP). However, anyone who has been in the classroom for any length of time and had the opportunity to have a co-taught class knows that typically, at least at the high school level, the general education teacher provides the instruction and the special education teacher is often simply a behavior monitor at least and at best a teacher who will initiate small group instruction as a form of remediation or ensure compliance with small group testing.  Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking, seldom is the co-taught classroom one of true collaboration. Continue reading