What do you get when you have two qualified teachers who may or may not have shared expertise cooperatively delivering instruction to a group of students? This is no riddle, but what is trending now in schools. It is what is called “co-teaching” and is one of the fastest growing teaching practices. With benefits of lower student-teacher ratio opportunities, stronger, more creative lessons and a modeling opportunity for peer-to-peer interaction, co-teaching will probably be seen more and more in schools.
Colony Meadows elementary (CME) students are currently having firsthand experience with this teaching technique during an exciting, creative project of designing, creating and displaying their own miniature type of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade floats. The upper grade classes, during the month of November, have been exposed to many Thanksgiving traditions. And since the Macy’s parade fits this criteria, the co-teachers, Melanie Hodges (CME librarian) and Rachel Adams (STEAM teacher for the new STEAM outclass at CME), decided to take this tradition one step further.
Using the book “Balloons Over Broadway” by Melissa Sweet as a jumping off point, the CME library has been converted into a float-design hub for the flowing creative juices. Using the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) approach for the guidelines of the float, the students can pretty much come up with any apparatus, as long as there is a “moveable” component. With that in mind, Sponge Bob will have a spinning tie and uneven wheels will hopefully make the teeter-totter “teet” and “tot” when the float is pulled.
Once their design has come to life, the students then test the technology while videoing the demonstration and interview each other on their creations to see what worked and the challenges they experienced. The photos and videos taken throughout the progress will be compiled into a media presentation that will be included at the yearly FBISD film festival.
This is not the first year of the parade floats, however, it took the co-teaching approach to really get it off the ground. Hodges and Adams both admit that co-teaching could have challenges, but their open communication and a shared vision has been key for this year’s float success, each contributing their strengths at different phases of the project.
Today, as teaching techniques evolve and new technology becomes mainstream, more and more distance is being added to the gap from what could be considered the “old school” way of teaching. For the students at CME, co-teaching definitely feels like a step in the right direction, or one float closer to a parade.