By Susan Fitzell • Feb 1st, 2018
Co-teaching and collaboration is challenging because it requires educators to stretch out of their comfort zones and embrace an initiative that they may have had no say in. Many teachers are forced into co-teaching and find themselves paired with another adult in the classroom without any training in the people skills part of the process. They just don’t know what to do or what to say. Yet, what we *say* to each other can make or break our relationship before we even begin.
By Susan Fitzell • Dec 1st, 2017
As part of the classroom team, paraprofessionals often must deal with student behavioral issues just as their teacher does. Since it’s a question of when a behavioral issue will arise, not if, the teacher-paraprofessional team should develop a plan of action to manage behavioral issues and refocus students on learning.
By Susan Fitzell • Sep 12th, 2017
13 tips for making the teacher-paraprofessional a smooth-working team!
By Susan Fitzell • May 30th, 2017
Flexible grouping can be a great strategy to incorporate into your lessons, especially if you are co-teaching. With flexible grouping, students’ level of learning, no matter what the curriculum, is assessed when leaving class, usually with exit cards or some other form of assessment. Then, students are grouped according to their level of understanding. With this strategy, students are not put in a group and then forced to stay at that level- they can advance or get more instruction at their own pace. Some examples of flexible grouping include:
By Susan Fitzell • May 8th, 2017
Many teachers use a two-column note taking strategy when giving notes to students. However, a colleague of mine takes this up a level by adding an additional column. That third column is used for test questions.
Here’s how it works:
The first column is for the big ideas, also known as the main ideas that a student needs to glean from a lecture or their reading materials.
The second column is for details that support the big ideas. We might call this evidence, supporting information, references, etc.
In the third column, students review the material in the first two columns and create test questions based on that information.
By Susan Fitzell • Jan 1st, 2017
Summarizing is a life-long skill that greatly affects student learning. It is also a skill that students struggle with significantly. One of the worst consequences of a lack of summarizing skills is the ease with which students will mistakenly plagiarize. Early in my teaching career, I noticed that when students were assigned a summarizing assignment, they would simply copy sentences from the book – rearranged. Rather than read a sentence and tell it in their own words, they simply switched the wording around.
By Susan Fitzell • Dec 5th, 2016
One of the most important higher order thinking skills that students need to improve their academic performance is the ability to distinguish between facts and opinions. This skill is particularly important because of the proliferation of altered truths circulating the Internet through email and website propaganda that too many people take as fact because it is written, when, in reality, it is merely opinion.
Students need to learn to ferret out fact from opinion. The teaching strategies we use should teach students to question what they read, research it, and ferret out the truth. The skill of identifying fact from opinion is also a necessary skill for higher order comprehension as well as to increase their state test scores. Learning to discern what is true from what is false so that the decisions our students make are based on correct information is a critical life skill.
By Susan Fitzell • Dec 1st, 2016
Since RTI was originally created to help lower elementary school children with literacy issues, much of the existing material on RTI focuses on vocabulary interventions or linguistic interventions. It is important to understand that these types of interventions can actually be used across the curriculum – in every subject from social students to math – to introduce vocabulary related to new themes and to show connections within themes.
Still, linguistic interventions may not work for every student in every subject. The following are some non-linguistic interventions that can be used across the curriculum.
By Susan Fitzell • Oct 1st, 2016
Back in 2003, I was working in classrooms coaching co-teachers at a high school in a tough part of town. I walked into this one room with nothing more than a list of room numbers and teacher names. I didn't know which teacher was the special education teacher or which one was the English teacher. I had been warned by the administration that it was a very apathetic group of students in that particular class.
There were two teachers in the front of the room, and I couldn't tell who was who because they were both up front leading a lively discussion about a piece of literature the class was reading.
All the students were engaged. What really struck me was people were disagreeing with each other; including the two teachers. They were discussing the author's intent; debating his motivation, characterization, and purpose. The two teachers took opposing views. Students were passionately sharing their perspectives. I was enthralled. This is apathy? No! It's prodigious.
By Susan Fitzell • Aug 1st, 2016
For teachers who are new to co-teaching, however, knowing what to discuss during the planning process can seem as daunting as co-teaching itself. To help you prepare for your co-teaching experience, consider these key planning and discussion points with your co-teacher: