Sunday, February 28, 2010

Science Council

At my last Coaches Academy, I had the opportunity to participate, as a student, in a Fifth grade science lesson. I not only participated as a student, but throughout the process thought about the implications to teachers, and the training required to give teachers solid ground to move further into inquiry instruction. At Science Council last week, I wanted to give our six Chets Creek lead teachers who facilitate science professional development, an opportunity to experience the same thing.

I challenged them throughout our 1 1/2 hour session to keep today's essential question in mind: How will we offer teachers professional development that will prepare them for teaching the New Generation Standards with rigor in an inquiry based format?

For this Council meeting, I planned for teachers to complete an engage and explore from a 5th grade unit on weathering and erosion. I didn't want to tell them about it, or have them read about it, I wanted them to participate in the lesson just as the children would. And, throughout the process to think about the implications on teachers' professional development. So, I prepared the materials ahead of time and solicited the help of an experienced Science teacher, Rick Pinchot. We co-taught the lesson by first presenting the essential question--How does the Earth’s surface change by weathering and erosion? To read the Wind Weathering lesson, please read Day 1 of this five day inquiry.

As part of the lesson teachers participated and then later discussed the following implications.
  • The engage part of the lesson is the perfect opportunity for discussion and to activate prior knowledge on a topic. Charting the student responses and posting them in the classroom allows frequent revisiting of the students' knowledge, permits the easy addition of responses as new learning occurs throughout the unit. In addition, it gives the teacher the opportunity to confer with students about misconceptions.

  • Teachers must build their content knowledge to offer this depth in instruction. Having probing questions readily available after students complete their experiment is helpful in taking the conversation to the necessary depth and to make connections in the content.
  • Teachers should post the testable question before each experiment and have students answer the testable question after completing the explore.

  • Teachers should always remind students to stick to the procedures of the lab as closely as possible, focus on their observations, and record their data accurately.
  • Students should work in small groups and record their data on chart paper for ease in posting so the class can compare data after the explore. Student dialogue is critical instead of recording data on an individual lab sheet to be put in a student's binder. Posting of large data done in small groups would make it easy for students to see if the experiment was conducted with validity and recorded consistently. If there are inconsistencies, it would be easy to launch into a discussion on which variables changed.

  • During the investigation, teachers should take notes on their observations. They will use these observations during follow up questioning later in the lesson.
  • After the explore, teachers should ask students probing questions to make sure they connect their learning between the experiment and wind weathering.
  • Students should answer the testable question and then you should ask four questions:
    What did I change? (independent variable) What did you enter as data? (dependent) What remained the same for each set up? (constants) What did we use as the control? (control)

  • After the explore and discussion of the variables, the teacher should ask students what could be done to improve the investigation. Students can then think deeply about variables and what could change to limit the variables. It allows them to reflect on good scientific procedures and gives them the opportunity to think about scientific precision.

Unfortunately, due to limited time, we did not, as the lesson called for, go back to two of the pictures from the Engage portion to discuss wind weathering. But, we could see how this would be a powerful way to conclude the day's learning.

In closing, I asked the lead teachers to consider the following questions;
--What cognitive demand expectations are teachers not teaching?
--Where do you see any misalignment in the cognitive demand expectations?
--Are teachers teaching the learning of facts or developing understanding?
--Is the emphasis on textbooks & explaining or on active scientific inquiry & discussion?

And, I asked them to reflect on our essential question of the day, How will we offer teachers professional development that will prepare them for teaching the New Generation Standards with rigor in an inquiry based format? I don't feel like we left with answers to this question, but we certainly have begun to explore the possibilities. Our next Science Council Meeting, held in a little over a month, will launch with me asking them their thoughts on this essential question.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reading Council

"There is a huge discrepancy between the intended curriculum and the implemented curriculum. The former specifies what teachers are called upon to teach; the latter reflects what is actually taught.”

Richard Dufour

Chets Creek's Reading Council met Wednesday to discuss our states intended curriculum (The New Generation Sunshine State Standards) and our implemented curriculum at Chets Creek. This was not the first time we've had this conversation. In fact, about ten years ago, I remember sitting at the very same conference table having the same conversation. At the time, we had adopted the America's Choice School Design and were challenged to become a standards-based learning community. We needed to marry our state's content standards with the America's Choice performance standards and build a pacing guide so teachers would implement instruction based on the standards. The task of aligning standards and building pacing guides in each content area took months of discussion but grappling with the task brought deeper understanding and greater clarity.

Reading Council felt like deja vu. Once again we were having the conversation, because Florida has revised the Sunshine State Standards and adopted the New Generation Standards. The state intends for us to teach fewer standards but with greater depth. And, so, the process of analyzing the intended curriculum to design pacing guides so teachers can implement the curriculum has begun.

To get started, the Reading Council began exploring the New Generation Standards by navigating Florida's Department of Education website and discussing similarities and differences from the old to the new standards. Our conversation quickly shifted to a document that might best build an alignment guide for teachers to clearly see the changes. But, we know, by studying Dufour's work, we must avoid simply handing them a document and involve them in the process. Being involved in the process and grappling with the task will provide clarity and commitment that will be lacking if they are handed a finished product. We want to ensure that the intended curriculum becomes the implemented curriculum and in turn becomes the student's learned curriculum. Therefore, we know, the journey has only just begun.

“School leaders must do more than deliver curriculum documents to teachers to ensure all students have an opportunity to master the same essential learning. They must engage every teacher in a collaborative process to study, to clarify, and most importantly, to commit to teaching the curriculum." Richard Dufour

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Focus on Celebration

"Study after study of what workers want in their jobs offer the same conclusion: they want to feel appreciated." (Kouzes & Posner, 1999)

I don't know of an employee or a leader, for that matter, that wouldn't agree with this statement. Everyone who pours their passion, energy, talent, and time into their craft wants others to recognize their efforts. Most don't need a standing ovation filled with loud sustained applause, but most do need a nod of appreciation that reaffirms their efforts. They like knowing that others value their time and talent.

As I was reading, Learning by Doing, I came across a section of the text on Celebration. The four pages focused on the importance of frequent celebration as a powerful tool within an organization not only to applaud the efforts of faculty but also to communicate the learning communities priorities and promote initiates. The authors claim that what is celebrated is also what is valued. And I easily see their point.

If you applaud a teacher publicly, like this:

As part of our Vertical Demonstration Day on co-teaching and small group instruction, Ashley Russell and Melissa Ross hosted 20 CCE colleagues. The observers were extremely impressed with the fast paced EDC instruction, the students' accountability as they each wrote their answers on a lap size whiteboard, and the organization of the EDC corner. The co-taught MI lesson was equally as impressive, and their small group instruction, both in EDC, and during MI Work Session, were focused on maximizing student achievement. If you want to see a classroom environment that is organized and purposeful, and instruction that is well planned and extends student learning, you must visit their room. Melissa and Ashley are truly an inspiration! (To read about or watch the lesson visit

You are saying thank you to the teachers for opening their classroom to colleagues; You are valuing the time and attention they are putting forth to plan meaningful instruction; You are announcing to others that you value mathematics instruction that extends student learning; You are guiding others who want to learn and grow in this area toward getting advice from Ashley and Melissa.

I connected deeply with this excerpt on Celebrations, because I feel like it is something we do extremely well at Chets Creek. We make every effort to value and appreciate teachers. Every agenda starts with celebrations, each faculty gathering begins with celebrations, and each week in our faculty Memo there are Grammys which give accolades to teachers' efforts. But, regardless of how well I think we celebrate, I wondered if everyone in our organization feels the same way. In addition, I wondered what we are communicating about what we value, and I wondered if our Grammys are specific enough for others to emulate.

I decided this would be an excellent topic for our next Curriculum Leadership Council. I asked the Council members to read the four page article before our meeting day, and we began, like we always do with celebrations. Next, we discussed the reading assignment. Ideas flowed easily. Though most of the comments were positive and focused on our constant celebration, someone voiced their concern that maybe some teacher's efforts were overlooked, or that certain things, like culture, were celebrated more often than curricular items.

I introduced the next task. The CLC members, armed with a roster, The Memo's Grammys from this year, and the School Improvement Plan, would split into their respective Councils. The six teacher leaders in each group, representing Kindergarten through 5th Grade, would note which Grammys were written in their academic area and which teachers received the accolades. Furthermore, they were asked to note whether the accolades were specific enough to be emulated by others, and were challenged to figure out if the celebrations were aligned with the School Improvement Plan goals we had established.

The task took approximately 50 minutes to complete and debrief, and the CLC had many ah ha's. By far, the Reading Council wrote more Grammys than the Math or Science Councils, but overall the group felt like the Grammys were written at a superficial level and teachers could not emulate the accolades based on the Grammy. And, none of the Grammys mentioned lessons on main idea or comparisons, the two goals written into the SIP that we said we would focus on this year. The Math Council, by far, had the fewest Grammys, however several of their Grammys focused on the SIP goal of measurement, and were written specifically enough to be emulated. The Science Council had a good balance of Grammys across each grade level and some were written specifically enough to be copied. Many focused on the SIP but the team felt that could be attributed to the broadness of the Science SIP goals. Each team's reflections left them recommitting to noticing and valuing the work of their grade level colleagues in each content area.

In summary, I believe the CLC valued this exercise as an examination of our Celebrations. We conversed about successes and things we would continue to do, and we discussed areas we could improve upon. As we move forward, I'm excited to see how this exercise spills into, or changes, our practice. I would recommend this reading to other coaches and encourage them to reflect on their school's practices. After all, I think we would all agree that every teacher wants to feel valued and appreciated for their continued efforts, talents, and time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Second Grade Observation Day

As soon as teachers receive their interest forms from the principal, they begin thinking aloud, and many times that lands them in the chair across from my desk. I love these desk side coaching conversations because most of the time they occur when a teacher is thinking about stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something new. They ask, "What do you think about...?"

That's exactly what happened with a kindergarten teacher and three first grade teachers several weeks ago. They heard that a current four teacher team was requesting a loop into third grade, so each of them was kicking around the idea of making a change. And, not only were they thinking about requesting second grade, but also going as a four package deal. They had heard how pleased the four pod had been with their set up this year and thought they'd like to give it a whirl.

As the instructional coach, I could have given them my advice, but I knew it would be better for them to make an educated decision on their own. So today, I spent the day with them observing in the second grade classrooms, and discussing the advantages and disadvantages of co-teaching, stand alone teaching, and departmentalized teaching. They watched the 2nd grade instruction and looked at students' work. They asked me questions about scheduling, curriculum, and meetings. They weighed the pros and cons, and discussed their options.
As a coach, it was easy for me to set up the opportunity, and it was beneficial for them to draw their own conclusions. By the end of the observation day, I am quite certain they knew exactly what they were requesting, and it was nice to see them so excited to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

Interest Survey

Believe it or not, as we mark the mid-point of every school year, we begin anticipating and planning for the next year. Principal Phillips sends teachers an interest survey so she can anticipate vacancies and search for teaching candidates if she foresees openings. In addition, and more importantly, she truly values the input of teachers, and tries to meet the needs of each teacher as best she can. This survey is one way to ensure that the teachers’ voices are heard and to get an idea of who wants to take a risk and try something new.

Chets Creek Elementary
2010-2011 Interest Form

Name: ____________________Date: __________________
Please complete the following as honestly as you can at this point. It is helpful if I can begin searching for teaching candidates now as opposed to waiting much later in the year. I am also more than willing to help and support you with other opportunities – your happiness is extremely important. Whatever you say is OK!
______ Right now, I plan to return to Chets Creek next year.
______ I will be seeking another opportunity next year and am not planning on returning.

Please complete the following with your interests. As I make decisions that impact the whole school I like to consider your interests as I keep the big picture in mind. I am not always able to honor every request but they will be considered.
My Grade Level Preference(s) are:
My Teaching Subject Preference is:
My Ideal Teaching Partner is:
I am ready to Co-Teach:
My Ideal Co-Teaching Partner is:
I am willing to teach in an Inclusion setting:
My Ideal ESE Teaching Partner is:

I would like to have an opportunity to serve Chets Creek in the following leadership capacity:
Patrol Sponsor (Stipend) YES NO MAYBE
SAC Faculty Representative YES NO MAYBE
PTA Board Faculty Representative YES NO MAYBE
Grade Level Team Leader YES NO MAYBE
Model Classroom Teacher YES NO MAYBE
Academic Subject Coach YES NO MAYBE
Please complete and turn in to S. Phillips no later than Friday, January 22.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our Collaborative Learning Community

I'm revisiting last year's February edition of Educational Leadership, How Teachers Learn, because I'm embarrassed to admit, I totally missed it last year! As I skimmed the Table of Contents, the article that first drew my attention was Learning with Blogs and Wikis by Bill Ferriter. Bill is a six grade Science and Social Studies teacher in North Carolina and a Senior Fellow for the Teacher Leader Network.

I was drawn to his article because our learning community has worked in the last two years to collaboratively develop grade level wikis and embark in the world of blogging. In his article, he writes, "Times have changed in two significant ways..." "First, there's a new emphasis on the importance of collaborative learning among members of close-knit teams in schools." Later he writes, "Second, digital tools now help fulfill Elmore's desire for free portals through which new knowledge about teaching and learning can enter schools."

In 1998 when Chets Creek was built, the learning leaders built a guiding vision and mission together. The Chets Creek team believed by establishing high expectations for all stakeholders and creating an environment which fosters meaningful relationships, risk-taking, and academic results, we would increase the chance that we would realize our vision. Just a few years later, we adopted the America's Choice School Design, and started building close-knit teams that had daily common planning time, and that met weekly, by grade level, to collaborate, discuss student work, and build curricular resources together. As we built professional and personal relationships, we began, as Ferriter mentions, "reflecting on instruction, challenging assumptions, questioning policies, offering advice, designing solutions, and learning together." We felt safe to take risks and implement new ideas. Sometimes we relished in their success and sometimes we failed, but each time, we learned and dared together. Over the years, we realized we were fullfilling our vision each day. We had a true gem, a learning community, because we had poured our passion and our dreams into our craft. We had built a school we would want our own children to attend. To say, we had a close-knit team was an understatement; We were a school family.

Not until the 2008-2009 school year did we embark on a successful option to Mr. Ferriter's second mention--digital tools. Sure, years ago, we had tried, although not successfully, to share ideas digitally through our intranet. But, too soon, our shared file became cluttered, hard to navigate, and impossible to categorize. Not to mention that we could only log on to retrieve information at school. What we had managed to create, although primitive, came tumbling down too quickly one day when the whole system hit overload and crashed. We salvaged little. We began reluctantly rebuilding, one file at a time with a definite lack of urgency.

Fast forward many years and you will catch a glimpse at our first real success in digital resources. Our technology coach, Melanie Holtsman introduced us to wikispaces, and inspired us to begin using them as collaborative learning spaces and digital warehouses. The option appealed to primary literacy coach, dayle timmons, who as a looping Kindergarten / First Grade teacher, had grown tired of passing an overstuffed dilapidated three ring binder stuffed with ideas from one teacher to the next, year after year. She jumped into the project and was the driving force behind Chets Creek's First Grade wiki and was ecstatic to find, upon her return to Kindergarten the following year, that the Kindergarten teachers had embraced the idea just as eagerly. To every one's relief, no longer did our K-1 teachers have to keep up with their notebooks, because everything went exquisitely digital! And, no longer was information just passed, but easily revised and polished, and built upon from one year to the next!

It didn't take long for the second grade teachers to follow suit nor for third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers to begin asking questions and showing interest. We haven't yet arrived at our destination, but we are certainly on our way, especially in the grade levels where teachers have wholeheartedly embraced the wiki as a collaborative project and learning tool. As you can see, I am elated that we have this editable website for our own use, but I am equally as delighted, as Ferriter states that, "All of this collective knowledge is readily available and free" to others. Our Chets Creek teachers are incredibly talented and give so unselfishly, I can't imagine students beyond our walls not benefiting from their work.

As we began building wikis, Melanie also introduced us to the world of blogging. Most of our teachers jumped in head first. A few, like Maria Mallon, have done beautifully, and used it as a window into her classroom both for parents and educators globally. But, overall, though we have a webpages, blogs, and wikis page on our school website, the waters of blogging at Chets Creek have cooled. Undeterred, Melanie encouraged our teachers to set up an RSS, Really Simple Syndication, feed. Even if they weren't blogging consistently themselves, she encouraged them to read the blogs of other educators. Ferriter explains, "Teachers rarely get to self-select learning opportunities, pursue professional passions, or engage in meaningful, ongoing conversations about instruction." Melanie knows that the RSS feed will open the door of learning for Chets Creek teachers to do just that. In addition, Melanie set up a professional development blog for CCE teachers so learning they do at conferences is immediately and readily available to everyone in our school. The underlying understanding is that if the school spends valuable dollars sending you to a conference for learning, you will blog the conference for our collectively learning.

I know, in two year's time, we are only scratching the surface of possibilities, and I can't wait to see how much more we learn and grow in the years ahead. I have to believe that we would make Mr. Ferriter proud, because adult learning in our school is not pushed aside as we sprint through the day. Rather, we know we must wrap our arms tightly around adult learning, so we can achieve our truest desire--leaving no rock unturned to meet the needs of every single student in our care.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Grade 3 Readers' Workshop Lesson

Last Wednesday morning, Christy Constande and Vicky Cole hosted 20 CCE colleagues during our Vertical Demonstration Day on co-teaching and small group instruction. They began their one hour Readers' Workshop by introducing Reading Standard 2: Getting the Meaning, and explaining to students that today they would analyze text to gain meaning. They referenced their previous lesson on opinions and inferences, and explained that authors leave breadcrumbs as clues throughout text that readers are supposed to gather as they read to gain understanding. Text Color

For their lesson, they used an excerpt from a read aloud book, Book Fair Day, and modeled how to note details that are stated directly in the text,"seen" text. Then, they taught students to extend that thinking by taking notes about what they know but that is not stated in the text, the "unseen." Putting these two pieces together, the students were then challenged to make and write down an inference.

During active involvement, the students had the chance to practice this new strategy in their reading journal using one of three excerpts the teachers provided to each pair. Teachers conferred with the students to help them during active involvement and two students shared their thinking.
In the link portion of the lesson, Vicky and Christy asked students to use this strategy today during their independent reading to gain meaning of the text.

As students transitioned to the Work Session, the teachers called two small groups, one to the front of the room, and one to the back. Vicky, based on analysis of their diagnostic data, taught a twelve minute small group lesson to five students on noting details. Then, she circulated to assist students that were working independently. She read the students' work during the "drive bys," and selected student samples for closing session.
At the same time, Christy taught a twenty five minute inferencing small group with the book, When the Relatives Came, to a group that she had anticipated would struggle with the concept of making an inference. This gave the group members an opportunity to practice the strategy with direct feedback and scaffolding from the teacher.

During the Closing session, Vicky facilitated while two students shared their work from their independent session. Then Christy shared student thinking from her small group. They reminded readers that today and every day they should always consider the "seen" and "unseen" breadcrumbs left as clues in the text by authors, and that they needed to gather the breadcrumbs to make inferences in order to gain a deeper understanding of the text.

After the lesson, the twenty observers gathered in the conference room to discuss the lesson and share ideas. Vicky and Christy joined the debrief to share their reflections and answer questions. The observers said they appreciated watching a demonstration lesson where they could see the students stuggling to grasp a concept; They liked that the teachers used authentic text to model their thinking; They enjoyed watching how both teachers brought their own experience into the lesson; They appreciated the depth at which the teachers modeled for students during the think aloud.

In addition, the teachers complimented Mrs. Constande and Mrs. Cole on their established rituals and routines, the ease at which transitions occurred, and the systematic data driven way they formed small groups. They liked the accountability during work period because the teachers provided a tool for students to record their thinking. They discussed that it is very evident that the teachers plan well together and equally take responsibility for their lessons.

The teachers then asked Vicky and Christy how they felt about co-teaching versus teaching alone, and whether they preferred the departmentalized co-teach or the all day co-teach. Furthermore, they wanted to know when they planned together and what they brought to planning when they met. They wondered, "Is the pm class instruction different than your am lesson?" The teachers spent about a half hour with us answering questions and sharing their ideas.

In watching this dynamic duo, you can tell that they do a fabulous job planning lessons together that are thoughtful, well organized, and take student thinking to the next level. You can see their reasoning behind their small group instruction and the organized manner in which it is approached to make sure every student gets what they need. If you want to see co-teaching and small group instruction in action, this is certainly a model classroom to visit whether you do it in person or virtually.

Untitled from Melanie Holtsman on Vimeo.

Math Demonstration Lesson

On Wednesday afternoon, as part of our Vertical Demonstration Day on co-teaching and small group instruction, Ashley Russell and Melissa Ross hosted 20 CCE colleagues. The observation began with Ashley teaching a thirteen minute EDC lesson to the whole group while Melissa pulled a small group of students to the side for extra reinforcement on the same math concepts and skills being covered in the whole group.

In my opinion, this strategy of one co-teacher pulling a group of four students for more focused attention from the teacher on the same topic was an excellent use of time during EDC. This strategy ensured quality small group instruction while the whole group still received what they needed. This duo even had an added layer of accountability because they had each student recording answers to the teacher's question on a lap sized white board. The students would hold the answers up for the teacher to check their answer and understanding before she moved on.

The observers were extremely impressed with the fast pace of the EDC instruction, the students' accountability as they each wrote their answers on a lap size whiteboard, and the organization of the EDC corner which provided efficient transitions. Furthermore, the depth of questioning on the part of each teacher was noted and admired.

After EDC, Mrs. Ross and the four students rejoined the class, and the teachers co-taught the mini-lesson to review the writing of an equation with a missing addend. Several students shared their strategies for attacking a missing addend problem. Then, the teachers explained the game
Cover Up.

The observers noticed immediately that for every auditory direction or explanation, the other teacher added the visual representation so all students' learning styles were met. The teachers, while explaining the directions, modeled and recorded their thinking on a teacher created handout which students were asked to fill out as they played the game in Work Period.

As students transitioned to Work Session in pairs, select students joined a small group in the front of the room, while others joined a small group in the back of the classroom. Mrs. Russell's group worked on the game together with more structured support, while Mrs. Ross' group had a modified handout. They were working on finding missing addends in an equation without the support of the manipulatives provided by the game. This challenge group also had additional problems with one of them requiring a written response at the bottom of the modified handout. It was evident while observing that these teachers met with all students in the classroom to meet the needs of every child. Several times, during their small groups, they left the group working and did "drive bys" in the classroom.

In closing session, several students shared their work, that was selected by the teacher during Work Session, and both teachers questioned students to extend their learning.

If you want to see a classroom environment that is organized and purposeful, and instruction that is well planned and extends student learning, you must visit their room to watch their instruction. They truly demonstrate the best of co-teaching and small group instruction inside a math/science classroom.

2nd grade - MW strategy group from Holtsman Family on Vimeo.

Vertical Demonstration Day

Observation of colleagues and their best practices, in my opinion, is one of the best ways for teachers to reflect on their own classroom instruction and gain valuable insight into ways they can grow and deepen their own practices. This was reaffirmed for me, again, last week during our fourth Vertical Demonstration Day.

Several weeks ago, I sent an evite out to teachers to join me in observing in two co-teach classrooms with a focus on small group instructional practices. We had fifteen subs available to cover classrooms, and within 24 hours I had thirty teacher request to participate. I filled the slots first come first serve, however kept a list of others who showed interest. Those teachers will have first dibs on the next round of Vertical Demonstrations five weeks from now.

The topic selection, co-teach/small groups, was selected because our school currently has eighteen co-teach classrooms. The teachers have participated at the district level in co-teach training as mandated by the state of Florida, and have participated in a co-teach training with a pair of our own experienced co-teach duos.

As part of our training, teachers learned about many co-teach strategies, and discussed the strategies that would provide the best student results and smallest student to teacher ratios. They discussed circumstances in which the five different co-teach models would be utilized successfully. They also learned some advantages to co-teaching and discussed some things that might stand in the way of a favorable experience. Working through a set of guiding questions, they learned that communication between partners is one key to success.

At Chets Creek, we've had some very successful co-teach matches, and some that simply put-weren't perfect. As I talk to co-teachers and walk classrooms, I can see that in some areas they shine and in others they are still grappling with the implementation. In particular, I pay attention to whether or not small group instruction is being utilized consistently. Though, most of the time our teachers do well co-teaching, there are times when I've witnessed tag team teaching. Co-teaching is not the opportunity to teach half day, rather an opportunity for two adults to flexibly teach all day with one of the five models.
Regardless of how long some of our teachers have co-taught, I know some still wonder, "When should we co-teach in tandem?" "When should we split the children into two groups?" "When should one teach and the other pull small groups?" "How can we best maximize our planning time together?" "Is it best for us to co-teach with a teacher in our content area or best to teach with someone in the opposite content area?"

To help answer the teachers' questions and knowing that our school capacity will likely raise beyond 139%, and we will continue to add co-teach classrooms, I found this the most pressing issue for a demonstration day. To make sure student achievement is maximized, we must continue to discuss what is best practice in a co-teach classroom, and ensure that proven practices are in place. I believe that co-teaching done well raises student achievement and brings deepened teacher satisfaction.

Therefore, when selecting co-teach models for our 10 am to 2 pm Vertical Demonstration Day, I knew I had to take observers to see Vicky Cole and Christy Constande in their third grade ELA classroom, and to Ashley Russell and Melissa Ross' second grade classroom to observe an EDC and Math Investigations lesson. These two classrooms offer a model of co-teaching that is systematic and balances tandem co-teaching with the pulling of small strategic groups. They are a model that exudes planning and communication, one that others would be inspired by.
As we debriefed the lessons, it became very apparent that my CCE colleagues felt the same way I do. The classrooms provided the perfect learning opportunity for others and the springboard for deepened collegial dialogue on co-teaching and small group instruction.