Posts tagged ‘co-teaching’

Fluency

During this summer, I really started thinking about my students’ fluency. As a teacher of LEP and FEP students, increasing their fluency is an important part of moving them toward grade level comprehension. As I always do, I wanted to make the practice of fluency as real world as possible. Luckily, I work in a K-8 building and had developed a relationship with one of the 1st grade teachers. While it probably should have occurred to me earlier, it finally dawned on me that my students could prepare a short book and read it to his class.

After discussing it with the 1st grade teacher and ironing out some details, it looked like it was going to happen. I had decided to piggy back on the concepts and content that he was teaching in class to help us determine which books to read. For example, when his class studied family relationships, my students checked out picture books on that subject to read. This was another way that this project could help build some background knowledge and experiences for his students. In this manner, both groups of kids would benefit. For some topics, my students selected from nonfiction texts, especially when it came to science topics. I feel that it is important for my students to learn how to read both fiction and nonfiction as they require different tones and expressions.

After our first trip, I decided to step things up a notch, and talked to my students about engaging the 1st graders that they were reading to. We talked about asking questions (both comprehension and connecting questions) as we read the book. In this way, the 1st graders would be even more engaged. It also provided a challenge for my students to come up with interesting, relevant questions for the group that they were reading to.

Since my purpose was to focus on fluency, I have videotaped each student read for about 20 seconds each time we visit the 1st grade class. I can then create a video of their clips and track their progress over time. It also allows me to assess how they are reading fiction vs. nonfiction texts.

I must say, my students have really enjoyed this experience. They are becoming more and more proficient and one of the benefits is their progress with not only reading out loud, but the level that they must understand the book and its concepts before they read to the 1st graders. While it is helping the 1st graders build their background knowledge, it is also doing the same for my students.

During the course of the week, my students select a book to read, practice reading it out loud to themselves, practice reading it out loud to their classmates, read it to me, and write down some questions that they can ask. In this manner, by the time we visit the 1st graders, most are proficient at reading their books.

I must say that this project has turned out better than I had hoped. It is an experience that my students look forward to. They do not complain about practicing because they know that a real audience awaits them. At this point, they know that the 1st graders will lose interest really quickly if they don’t perform well, so they always strive to keep it engaging. The first graders love it as well, stopping me during lunch to ask when my class will be visiting them.

Middle school student reading "Anamalia" to 1st graders.

Reading a nonfiction text to 1st graders.

Alternatives to Gcast

With the unfortunate new price that it costs to use Gcast.com, Jennifer and I have been searching the Internet for alternatives that are free to use. Luckily, we have found two that we like. For those of you unfamiliar with Gcast, it is an online podcast host that allows its users to call in by phone and record a podcast. The podcast is saved to the users account to be edited later if needed or published. Jennifer had been using Gcast with her students to record their book talks. She was going to expand her use of Gcast to her professional development co-teaching class so that the members of the class could record their co-planning session. In search of an alternative solution, we posted a tweet asking for suggestions of similar sites to Gcast. In return, we were referred to phonecasting.com and drop.io.

Here is what we have found to be and not to be useful…

Phonecasting.com seems to offer promise because it allows users to record and publish podcasts through various methods such as uploading your podcast from your computer or calling and recording a podcast from your phone. It is free to use and the number you call to record the podcast is toll free. The later was a huge feature that we considered essential for two reasons: 1) we cannot expect our students to call a long distance number from their home phone and they may not have a cell phone 2) teachers cannot call long distance from the school and to record a co-planning session would possibly use excess minutes on their cell phones. However, Jennifer and I were both unsuccessful at setting up a channel (the location where the podcasts would be stored or featured). Even after referencing the “how to” directions many times, we still could not figure out how to completely set up the account and channel. It was very frustrating and we can normally figure out these types of things (at least together). Needless to say, we will not be using phonecasting.com.

I liked Drop.io almost immediately. Drop.io is much like an online file folder for sharing files. It allows you to upload media, documents, podcasts, pretty much anything you can imagine. It even allowed me to upload a .m4v file that I created and then exported from iMovie. You can “drop” a file by uploading it directly to your drop.io folder, emailing it, or calling and recording a voicemail. Drop.io also provides a number to call if you wish to host a conference call. Drop.io was very easy to set up and use. When I performed a “test” call, I was surprised how quickly the .mp3 file appeared in the drop. The only set back that we foresaw was the long distance telephone number for the voicemail.

Yodio.com allows users to record, create, and share pictures, presentations, etc. Yodio users upload pictures or a presentation and add narration from their computer or by phone. The number users call to record their Yodio is toll free. However, the number the user calls from must be registered with the account being called. Yodio was also very easy to set up and use. One thing that we like about Yodio is the visual component it offers.

We would love to hear of any sites that you use for podcasting or how you use podcasting in your classroom.

Language Arts Stations

I have been working with a teacher who has an 8th grade Language Arts class that has quite a few ELL and SPED students.  She is struggling to find a way to meet the diverse needs in the class, work with students in small groups, and maintain classroom management.  I talked to this teacher about coming in and co-teaching with her.

I met with the teacher to plan out the lesson and decide what she wanted the focus to be.  She has been working on determining the subject and predicate in sentences and is moving into the different types of sentences.  She also wanted to be able to meet with a small group of kids.  We decided to set up stations.  She would create groups based on some classroom data.  That way when a group came to her, she would be able work on specific skills that that group was missing.  The four stations that we decided on were:  teacher station, creating sentences finding the subject and predicate, types of sentences foldable, and a parts of speech bingo.  I would create the foldable, provide the game, and an introduction to types of sentences.  She would create the stations, the subject and predicate station, and her teacher station materials.

Before class began, we arranged the desks in the class and put the materials at the appropriate stations.  When the students came in, we told them the station that they needed to sit at.  We did this because we knew that this group would struggle with movement after the instructions.  We started the lesson with an introduction to types of sentences.  I created a powerpoint (you can view or download it at this address: http://www.slideboom.com/presentations/32470/Types-of-Sentences ). to introduce the topic and explain the foldable.

After the introduction, we explained the task at each station.  At the subject/predicate station, students had to write one sentence based on a picture and then highlight the subject and predicate in each sentence. This sheet would be used as a pre-assessment for the teacher at her station (the one right after the subject/predicate station).

 

Subject/Predicate Station

Subject/Predicate Station

We got some good data from this station.  One entire group neglected to add a subject to any sentence.  This allowed the teacher to know exactly where she needed to begin her instruction – even further back than she had anticipated.  

At the foldable station,  students made a hotdog fold and cut out four sections.  Each section would be used to describe one of the types of sentences.  They would write a definition, a sample sentence, and a picture illustrating that picture.  They will use this foldable as a study guide for future assignments.

 

Types of Sentence Foldable

Types of Sentence Foldable

Inside of foldable.

Inside of foldable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With our short classes (only 45 minutes), we ran out of time very quickly.  Students did not get to finish the foldable.  We decided to create an overhead and have them finish it as a warm-up.  We would provide the definition and they would add the sample question and picture.  This would provide a quick assessment for the teacher to see if they comprehended the various types at a very simple level.

 

 

Students working in stations.

Students working in stations.

 

 

At our debriefing, we talked about how great a job the students did, how surprised she was that a group of students didn’t add subjects to any of their sentences, how she adjusted her instruction to that, the fact that students were upset when they couldn’t finish their foldable (how many students do you know who complain when they can’t finish their work?!?), and how to build in the time to finish the foldable during a later class.

All in all, the kids did a great job.  I think that this might be a strategy that will be successful with this class.  

On a different note, the more foldables that I make, the more excited I am about this strategy and using it with students.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers