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

.GIFs as Art (and Literacy)

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From NPR

Last week NPR had a great article espousing the rise of GIF files as an art form. You can check out the article for yourself here. Specifically it is the Museum of the Moving Image (sounds like an apt place to display GIFs as art doesn’t it) in Astoria that is touting the value of the GIF as a legitimate art form. (Sorry redditors–it’s not just for the internet underbelly anymore.) Kidding aside, the article got my gears turning. With my interest in multimodality and alternative literacies in the classroom, I surprised myself that I hadn’t even considered a GIF as yet another form of literacy, yet here I am now pondering the implications of GIFs in the language arts classroom. Continue reading

Trading Cards: Part II

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So this past Thursday I had my kids take our character card game to the next level and actually play the game. You can read about my initial set up of the game here. I ended up filming the game as well, so I may upload that at sometime. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to explain the what went down. I will say at the end of the day, I think the kids had a great time and really enjoyed revisiting characters in such a unique way. Continue reading

What?! Take a Midterm Outside?!

PhotoGrid_1395424799095No one really enjoys taking tests even if they happen to be really good at taking them. To celebrate the arrival of spring and it just being naturally wonderful outside today, I decided to let the kiddos take their midterm outside in the sunshine or in the shade of the building. They loved it of course, and it was actually easier to watch them take the test out there than it is in my classroom (which has no windows mind you). While we had to battle a bug or two and listen to a very happy bird chirp fairly incessantly, the experience was nothing short of delightful for me and them. I’ll end this little post by simply saying it’s nice to break out of the ‘prison’ from time to time even when doing something as fettering as taking a test.

 

Rebels With a Cause

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The reason I’m going to NTCE next week is to present my initial findings as well as obtain advice on a pilot study I designed this summer and implemented starting last month in October.

The study centers around paying attention to the literacies (writing, communicating, media development) students naturally bring to the classroom but are not typically sanctioned by school practices. Continue reading