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multi 12-18-2017 10:29 AM

Departmentalizing 3rd Grade
We are moving to a departmentalized model when we return to school in January. The two other third grade teachers and I have agreed that it may be easier for planning purposes to go this route. We will have one reading teacher, one math teacher, and I will be teaching writing. Our science units and standards have already been taught and our social studies units and standards are covered in reading.
Our students are already used to rotating amongst us for word study, science and other units that have been taught.
I am looking for advice for those that do this already or have done it in the past.

TheGr8Catsby 12-19-2017 02:49 PM

It's so much easier to do this at the beginning of the year than January.

Do your students have lockers/cubbies/any kind of storage that isn't the desk? If so, that is where all student belongings go. The desks only contain shared materials.

I also learned that it's best for students to travel with minimal items. It's easiest to do community pencils and paper, but if you decide not to go that route have something uniform for the students to transition with. When I taught third on a trio, we had "travel folders" that went with students. I would like to have used 1 inch three ring binders with a pencil pouch in it.

If there are a lot of items that your students will have to transition with, make sure you have your homeroom as your middle block. If not, decide whether you want your homeroom in the morning or afternoon. It's easiest to have your homeroom when you have the most transitions and/or interruptions. If it looks like you will go to specials and lunch during your last block, have your homeroom at that time.

Finally make sure you have some kind of consistent behavior management piece in place. If you decide to use ClassDojo and take 5 minutes off recess for a negative point, make that teamwide.

cruxian 12-20-2017 04:32 AM

I've departmentalized in about as many different varities/combinations as you can imagine.
Management of materials is something to think through (in terms of how you want to handle it). Even though my homeroom has a separate storage area from the other class, I am still firm withmy reminders that they are not to keep anything personal in their desks. One boy kept slime in his desk with utterly predictable results.
Decide as a team if you're using a uniform behavior consequence. I've found it also effective to implement behaviors within my own room. The kids were able to differentiate between one set of rules for my room veruss the room down the hall. But it's good to decide if that's something you want to do together or individually.
Frequent communication between teachers is helpful about student progress/behaviors/concerns, etc. One thing that has come up is silly little things like pencil sharpening or bathroom breaks. I realize it seems simple but one of the other teachers doesn't take his class to the bathroom before lunch so most of them have to go during independent reading time. (And I genuinely think it's them having to go, mostly, not them avoiding the work....because it's the majority of them including good kids.)

Lakeside 12-23-2017 06:06 PM

I agree...
...with Linda that a half-year might be a good trial, and especially about staggering due dates/tests!

Just a thought - if the transitions turn out to be too rough, I did sub at one school where the teachers switched rooms instead of the kids. It wasn't ideal for things like having charts up on the walls, but there was a lot less trouble with lost materials and transition times were definitely quicker.

Linda/OH 12-24-2017 03:56 AM

As previous posters mentioned, communication is key! It can be challenging but carve out time to meet formally and then informally as needed.

I have to say having three classes is going to be hard as a teacher. We had switched with just one other teacher for the past 3 years and then went to a three teacher team this year because we downsized.

And for planning, it may be somewhat easier but I have IEP kids in 2 classes and gifted in one class. So my differentiating takes just as much time to plan as planning for multiple subjects.

Be prepared! The grading/assessment aspect is time consuming to me. You may wish to try staggered due dates for big writing assignments for example.

Best of luck. It may be a good trial for your team to start for half a year at first and work out the bugs:)

Linda/OH 12-26-2017 01:08 PM

We've tried them a couple of ways. The most practical is parents meet with homeroom teacher. We then have a checklist that the other teachers have filled out with notes, grades about the student. If time allows, I also like to meet with struggling students families face to face.<!--snowman--><!--paperflake3-->

multi 12-26-2017 04:47 PM

Thank you so much for all of your tips.
Just curious how parent/teacher conferences work for those that specialize?

Youthcantknow 12-27-2017 06:27 AM

Our school departmentalizes at that age and it's OK. We find that the three teachers need to communicate with each other constantly to stay on top of which kids might be having problems - is it in just one class or across the board? We meet with parents as a group or alone based on where the child is struggling. We don't have too many issues with managing materials, but you'll need to give them at least a month to adjust to carrying their belongings and needing to return to their previous classroom to retrieve things left behind. A pencil case is a must. We use seat sacks to store stuff during class. We also try to let each other know when we have a test planned so that the kids don't have two tests in one day. I think that the parents perceive us as a team, which really helps.

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