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Departmentalizing 3rd grade first time
Old 07-02-2015, 12:22 PM
 
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This year will be my first time teaching three classes of ELA/Writing and I need some ideas on keeping 60 students organized. Yikes! How do you manage Parent/Teacher conferences with 2 other teachers, not to mention parent contacts? Our planning period has also been cut to 30 minutes a day, leaving a very short time to get together with the other teachers, let alone do the business needs of the day. Ideas appreciated!


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Old 07-02-2015, 12:32 PM
 
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Last year was the first year we did that. It went better than I expected. We share parent contacts with each other (mostly emails) and always cc any email responses to the other teachers so they know what has been said already (in case the parent contacts them, too). Mostly parents contact the teacher where any concerns arise. If they don't know the teacher's email, they'll email the homeroom teacher and get it. We never try to answer for the other teacher - we just forward the email to them and tell the parent that's what we're going to do.

When a conference is requested, we run the possibilities past the teachers first, then let the parent know. We had the same planning time, so it was easy enough. Sometimes we met after school. I don't like those because then you're stuck talking too long (parents love to give their child's life history ). We only scheduled conferences when they were needed - we weren't required to do them. It was much easier to communicate through emails where we have proof of what was said and we can refer back to the emails if we forget.
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Old 07-03-2015, 02:31 AM
 
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One tip I remember reading about is to color code your groups. If the children are rotating through your room have a name plate on each desk with the names color coded as well. If the order is red, blue, then green the 1st name is in red, blue's name is next, then green's name.

You might want to post your question on the BusyBoard. At my school 4th and 5th grades departmentalize but not K-3.

Last edited by RetiredKat; 07-03-2015 at 02:43 AM.. Reason: added info
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Old 07-03-2015, 04:59 AM
 
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Last year we shared three classes. I found it very difficult to get to know 60 plus students. We have a required conference around Columbus Day in October. I did not feel I knew my students as well as when I taught one class. So, I did not feel like I did as good a job telling parents about their child as a learner. It took me until December to get to know them as well as I usually do by mid October.

We each just did the conferences with our home room students. We have one day for conferences, so 20 or so is about all you can do. JMO We gave each other notes to use on the other subject areas. We did all the special ed students together however.

The one thing I liked about three classes was if you had a behavior problem child you only had to deal with them for one third of the day. It is a great deal less annoying than having them all day long. It helps you as your patience does not wear as thin.

We also had a major personality conflict between two students each with behavior problems. It was very easy to switch one of them to another class. The parent had little problem with giving her permission since he would have the same three teachers.

I hope it works better for you than it did for me. Our team is returning to two teacher teams for next year. Make sure you all use the same behavior plan so parents feel it is fair for their children. Also stay in daily communication with one another about what is happening in class as far as behavior. Without constant communication the behavior gets worse in my opinion. They figure what the heck, I will be leaving Ms Smith's class soon, what's she going to do about it?

I also got bored teaching the same two subjects over and over. It is easier but boring. This is especially true if you teach most lessons in small groups. I usually had nine groups a day. I was running low on enthusiasm after the third time. That is not a good thing. If I am excited about what I am teaching I will have a better chance of getting the students excited about learning.

Hope I was not too negative. Different strokes for different folks. I just wanted to be honest about my experience. I hope it is the perfect system for your grade level and students. Good luck!
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Old 07-03-2015, 06:08 AM
 
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My principal has given me a choice. I can do reading for both classes and my own math

Or

Reading for both classes and my own science and social studies.

I can't decide which I prefer. I was leaning towards Science and Social Studies, but to be completely honest math is sooo important and I am a control freak. How can I leave that for someone else to teach.

How have you departmentalized??


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Departmentalizing
Old 07-03-2015, 06:29 AM
 
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I appreciate the frankness expressed in your posts. The prospects of getting to know 50+ students this year are a bit overwhelming at first. I was curious about how long it would take to actually "know" these kids. Our social studies and science is a 50/50 split in the schedule; i.e. first 4 1/2 weeks social studies, next 4 1/2 weeks science. All three of us will be teaching our homeroom students this. I will have ELA. I'm not looking forward to grading 50+ essays, however. Keeping behavior in check between the three of us will be a challenge - I can see that. On the up, there are a few I would not like to have all day, so that is fair. It will be a challenge, I'm sure. I welcome all comments and thoughts so that I can plan ahead. Thank you!
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Old 07-03-2015, 06:31 AM
 
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So between the two of you you are just switching for Math and Reading?
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switching
Old 07-03-2015, 06:55 AM
 
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We used a clip chart for behavior, and the chart just followed the kids to their next class. It worked well!

We didn't switch classes until the first full week of school. We had 2 days of "getting to know you", and that helped us learn our homeroom really well. We switched at the end of the 2nd day just to model how the transitions would work (quietly, in a line, ....). We emphasized it being smooth, so we practiced it until they got it right (only took 2 times).

It does take longer to really "know" the kids, but it wasn't bad. The one thing to remember is to SHARE information with the other teachers. If a pet dies, a parent shares history, etc... it's so important to tell the other teachers. I emailed the other teacher immediately so I wouldn't forget, and she did the same. It helps you know the kids faster and it really helped me sympathize and understand behaviors sometimes.

You shouldn't have essays every week, so I wouldn't worry about that. Our ELA is combined this year, so I only have 1 test each week. With 3rd grade, it's mostly paragraphs so it's not like you're grading research papers all the time. When you do, have a rubric to help.
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Old 07-03-2015, 07:46 AM
 
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Begood: We have three teachers in the rotation. One will teach Math, the next Reading, and I will teach ELA.

Our writing is a little more rigorous than just paragraphs. I did teach writing last year and we had an essay every 5-6 weeks, along with practice paragraphs for constructed responses.
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Old 07-06-2015, 11:17 AM
 
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When the students switch classrooms, do they bring their bookbags (personal belongings) with them?

This will be the first year that we will be departmentalizing in the lower grades. I will be teaching grades 3 and 4 Math, Science, and Social Studies. I start my day with the 4th grade. We have a "coatroom" in the classroom. Normally, in a one grade homeroom, the students hang up their bookbags and we're good for the day. Now the question arises of what to do about them. Will they return to their "homeroom" at the end of the day for dismissal, or leave from their afternoon teacher's class?

We have two professional development days before the students begin. We hope to work all this out then.

Also, what about homeroom class parties? Special projects?

Thank you for the important info regarding keeping the other teacher(s) in the loop when communicating with parents.


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Old 07-08-2015, 09:14 AM
 
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Quote:
When the students switch classrooms, do they bring their bookbags (personal belongings) with them?
Ours don't. They take their folder (school to home connection) and a book to read. They go back to their homeroom the last 20 min. of the day. That's when they pack up and we each do our own read aloud to our homeroom.

Quote:
Also, what about homeroom class parties? Special projects?
Our class parties take place in our homeroom, but they're always at the same time as other classes in our grade. We try really hard to coordinate those so it's not too confusing. Any projects are done in the time slot of that subject.
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