Reflecting on Team Teaching

Team teaching is a part of my daily classroom routine in room 205 and I was delighted that I had the opportunity to team teach through the program as well. It’s always interesting to teach with someone new and meld your ideas together into a lesson. As long as there is a collaborative spirit, two minds are definitely better than one. You have two people available to address student needs, to troubleshoot, to help differentiate and deliver the material in engaging ways. Each person brings their strengths to the table and has someone who may be capable of backing them up where weaknesses emerge. Team teaching also provides teachers with a way to validate what they are doing on a daily basis. Instead of wondering whether or not the material is truly connecting to core standards, the project you created has any loopholes in it, or the disciplinary action you decided on was effective, you have someone in your classroom who can constantly help assess what you are doing and back you up if questions arise. Although it may be daunting to invite someone into your classroom space and a bit unnerving to hand over the reigns, I truly believe that building a strong co-teaching relationship really provides the kids with a better classroom experience.

On that note, the team teaching I did for the program was with Joie Marinaro for two readings from edge.org written by James O’Donnell and Howard Rheingold. The question both authors were trying to answer was, “Is the Internet changing the way you think?” Both authors voiced that the internet will surely change the way you think, but their viewpoints on how they would change and how much control you would have in the process differed. O’Donnell wrote about how this change is actually a physical change in the way we interact with technology, which is evident in the title of his article, “My Fingers Have Become Part of My Brain.” While Rheingold’s piece “Attention is the Fundamental Literacy” discussed how technology users can either learn new literacies and ways to be attentive or allow them to overtake their attention.

When we planned our lesson, we wanted to allow time for discussion of two questions that were generated from the reading. In order to get everyone tuned in for the discussion, we opened our lesson by asking  students to respond to the following on Mentimeter: “What strategies do you use to sustain your attention while interacting with technology?” Our goal was to have the class reflect on how they stay attentive and we predicted that many people would dull one of their senses as a way to focus. When we had everyone’s responses we formed a word cloud and discussed the outcomes through Mentimeter. One hiccup with Mentimeter that we encountered was that it did not filter out the prepositions or articles that people wrote in their responses, so we had to sift through the word cloud a bit. In the future, maybe it would be a good tool for one word responses but not open ended questions.

The answers that everyone came up with led into our discussion of the two focus questions we wanted to address:

Do you agree with O’Donnell’s assumption that shifting literacies are involuntary–that we are victim to our tech. use?

Do you agree with Rheingold that it is inevitable that the Net will change how and what we think as it teaches- or reteaches- our attention span?

Although the conversation shifted from our initial outcome of talking about the new literacies and became more of a discussion on digital citizenship and the importance of teachers in a student’s netizen education, the discussion turned out to be quite engaging.  We used Prezi to navigate through the discussion and the activity that we planned using Snagit. Everyone was asked to snag an image of a netizen and create their own interpretation of what a netizen is.

In hindsight, it would have been beneficial to breakdown what the difference was between a citizen and a netizen because everyone was using the terms interchangeably. Because our discussion morphed and went longer than anticipated, we decided to have students do the Snagit activity in pairs and then instead of sharing them all one by one, we held a gallery walk where everyone took a stroll around the room and admired the interpretations of netizens that the others had created. I actually thought the gallery walk ended up being a better discussion/presentation strategy than our original plan.

I thought the lesson went rather well. Yes, it ended up veering in a different direction from the original plan, but the class was engaged and had the opportunity to have an authentic discussion about issues that are part of our current classroom environment. We were left with the question, What is a teacher’s role in preparing students to be responsible netizens?

References:

O’Donnell, J . (2011). My Fingers Have Become Part of my Brain. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/11113

Rheingold, H . (2011). Attention is the Fundamental Literacy. In J. Brockman (Ed.), Is the Internet changing the way you think? Retrieved from http://edge.org/response-detail/11370

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