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Compiled By: luvinlife

This collection contains information for teachers that are thinking of, or are planning to be, departmentalizing.

Changing classes
Posted by: Kimberly

My partner and I switch with 2nd graders and it is surprisingly smooth. Before we line up we remind the students what they need to take with them and they are now trained to hold up and show us what we ask for--kind of like a checklist, only verbal. This prevented a lot of "I forgots". Of course, for those who did forget something, we eventually worked to a small punishment. We have a discipline wheel that follows the students wherever they go and they get their clip moved to the next section and then they go get what they forgot. It really didn't bother us when a student walked in. We get interruptions all day anyway. Our kids were assigned numbers at the beginning of the year corresponding with our grade book and the first letter of the homeroom teachers name (my class was E1, E2, etc...). The kids write their number in the top right corner of ALL papers for filing purposes. We also numbered any consumable books so they had their own in the desk. If they were careless and used the other persons book, they had to copy the whole page at recess onto notebook paper. They learned to check for their numbers quickly! I have a tray to turn in assignments for my class and a tray for the other class. The kids really liked switching. It gave them a different environment. My room was set up for what I teach and my partner's room was set up for her subjects. I think it just works better if the kids switch--as you can probably tell by my ramblings! Hope this helps. Any questions--just e-mail me! Good luck!

departmentalizing in 4th grade
Posted by: Kara

I am just completing my first year as a 4th grade teacher. I have previously taught 2nd and 3rd. 4th and 5th grades at this school are departmentalized. WE do however draw the line at the number of times we switch and for how many subjects.

There are 4 of us and we are divided into 2 teams. Two of us teach Math and Science, and two teach ILA (Intergrated Language Arts)and Social Studies. This works really well for us. We meet as a grade level each week, so we all know what we are studying. We then meet by subjects taught to plan. All 4 of us have exactly the same homework on our boards as our teammate. Consistancy is a key in making departmentalization work.

We switch classes after an hour and a half to an hour and 45 minutes for our first (homeroom) class. We try to take our kids out to run laps (PE teacher's jogging club), then switch classes. Our second group lasts for 2 hours.

We do a great deal of intergration when teaching our specific subjects. Sometimes we even cross over to what the other team may be covering in our use of graphing and problem solving in math.
All of us make use of computer technology intergration whenever we can. Many of our projects are done on computers.

Since our first group has a little less instructional time, we are able to make it up after lunch and resource in the afternoons. Planning is the key to making this idea work. I was leary at first, but have grown to like it.

Our 5th grade has 5 teachers, the 5th class splits between the two ILA/SS teachers, and certain students go to the 5th teacher for smaller classes of students or advanced math and science. The other two math/science teachers switch their entire class with the ILA/SS teachers. It works very well for them.

The only advice that I can give after living through this is if you decide to departmentalized, only split the subjects so each person is teaching two subjects. It isn't fair for one teacher to only teach one subject to all classes. That means entirely too much movement, which as we all know is a disruption to things running smoothly.

I hope this helps. Let me know what your grade level decides to do.

Posted by: Jo

At our school we do graduated departmentalizing. In fourth grade all three teachers teach one section of science. They divide up topics and teach the same ones yearly. Then they each teach one section of math which is divided into high, medium, and low groupings. Each teacher teaches their own Social Studies and Language Arts.
Then in fifth grade one teacher teaches all science, one all math, and one all reading.(This is the first year for us to departmentalize for reading in the past it was Social Studies.) Now we all teach our own Language, Spelling, and Social Studies.
In sixth grade one teacher teaches math and problem solving(separate classes), one has science and social studies, and the other has language arts.
In Junior High they have a different teacher for each subject.
It is progressive and the children seem to adapt well. We are a small district, so you know the children better in the beginning. We decided to go with reading in fifth grade this year due to the No Child Left Behind legislation. I'm not sure we will continue with this, but we haven't really decided yet. We do group for math and reading--which I know is unpopular with some, but it seems to be working with this group this year. Most travel in the same groups to all three classes, but some differ.
I was very hesitant to departmentalize in the beginning. I felt like they still needed one more year of the "mother hen", but they have adapted very well. Those that haven't probably would have had problems the other way too. It does take a LOT of communication among teachers to be sure a child isn't "getting by" the easy way in all classes.
Behavior problems have been better. I'm not sure if it is because you can handle situations for a short time that become unbearable after all day or if the moving around is helpful and the differing teaching techniques and personalities. Personally, I like it now and would hate to go back to the other way of teaching.

Posted by: Mardi

Deparmentalization is the way to go! I will begin my third year of teaching this year and most of my experience has been working in departments. The only time I had a self-contained classroom was during one of my 9 week student teaching experiences.

We departmentalize in the areas of math, science, and social studies. Each teacher is then responsible for teaching their homeroom Reading/Language Arts. Each content area is taught for an hour (this takes the whole morning), then in the afternoon we teach our class Language Arts.

The children switch classes like middle and high school students. We don't have desks, just tables that have pull- out drawers. That way they just take their drawers with them and have all the supplies they need.

When you departmentalize you have the opportunity to collaborate with other teachers, this is especially helpful if you are new to the profession. It lessens the workload and you become more confident with your teaching skill because you get to teach the same lesson repeatedly. It also helps prepare the students for the upper grades!

If you collaborate and really work with your teaching team, you shouldn't have problems with discipline and procedures. The key is working and communicating as a team.

I could go on and on about the value of departmentalization!!!

Posted by: luvinlife

In the past when I was departmentalized, we used a traveling clipboard for each class. It had each students name, then a list of behaviors to the right of the names, like a checklist. Each time a student did that behavior, they received a checkmark. The clipboard followed the group all day, so the end result was a behavior board from all teachers for the entire day. This worked really well and served as good notes for our planning meetings. We would use the checkmarks and take time away from that student's recess based on how many checkmarks he/she had. I am attaching a copy of that form, feel free to change it and use it if you like it!

We also kept behavior/returned work charts in our room (incentive chart posters) and for each day a student had one or fewer checkmarks, they got a sticker. If they got all but one or all of their stickers for the month, then we would have a special treat for those students, while the others would sit in study hall and make up missing assignments or work on enrichment activities. Rewards for this included: 30 minute recess, special snack, educational video and popcorn with a juice, extra gym time (worked out with the gym teacher). We had an end of the year sock hop (during the school day) for students who participated in the monthly reward each time!!!

For whole class rewards, I kept a chart on the board for each group. When they received a pre-determined number of compliments for positive behavior, then they would get a reward. For reading, the kids got a free reading day, where they could choose a book and read during that period. For math, the kids played math games during their class and didn't get homework for that day. For science we would watch Bill Nye or Magic Schoolbus videos that corresponded to our current subject or did a special experiment just for fun. We didn't switch for writing, but you could let them have time to write notes to friends, or do a free write about something they want to write about instead of a pre-determined topic or genre of writing.

I hope this helps!!!

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Posted by: grade4curlyQ

I've taught on a three person team sharing the students among us, as well as on a 4 person team sharing with just a team teacher, and self contained.
I've been able to get a great deal more accomplished in the self-contained setting, although as previously mentioned, the amount of planning is greater.
I've worked well with one of the team teachers, and the other was a nightmare! Talked the talk, yet DID NOT walk the walk.
I know my students much better when they are with me all day long and I have the flexibility that would not be there if we were departmentalized.
Pros & Cons.........weight them out according to what you know about yourself. It's really going to boil down to good planning and good instruction, so if you do departmentalize, make CERTAIN you and the other teacher are truly compatible!:D

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Posted by: bzetchr

I've done it in 4th, 5th, and with a 4/5 - with 2, 3, and 5 teachers - for several years and it has worked well. It does take some coordinating, but once set up everyone was pleased with the results.
-We assess the students in the first few days, and used standardized scores. In math and reading we cluster group, based on needs of students. This makes differentiating the curriculum easier when you have all the students in the class at aprox. the same place, and able to work at about the same pace.
-In math and reading - depending on number of teachers - we had low, lo/med, med, med/high, high groups. If you are doing 3 teachers - low, med, high; and 2 teachers low to low/med; and med/high to high.
-For Sci. , SS, and Written Language the students rotated with their homeroom class. Each teacher took a subject area and taught it 3 times (with 3 teachers). With 2 - we rotated for Sci. and SS and kept our own homeroom for written lang. and reading. With 2 we have also rotated for Sci. / SS; and Written lang. / reading - in other words teacher A taught Sci. and Reading, teacher B taught SS and Written Lang. We have always differentiated for math.
-In reality, no student had more than 3 teachers.

-You are only planning for 3 subject areas rather than 5 and can put more into those 3.
-You are teaching a subject that you are excited and passionate about - and the kids get that benefit. (EX: I'm not strong in Sci. but one of my colleagues is, in fact the Sci. mentor for the district... all the students had her for Sci.)
-If you have a student that drives you nuts ... you don't have him/her for 6 hours.
-If there is a student with an issue, all his/her teachers conference with the parents - they get the message from more than 1 person, then it is not just you saying it. We all do the progress conferences together on high maintenance students - usually we pick 6-8 in the entire grade level that need that and schedule all on 1 day so we can all be there. Has impact!
-It breaks up the students' day with little transitions between subjects and that "brain shift" helps keep them focused.
-Students have to get organized - not a bad thing ;)

-Scheduling the pull-outs and specialists was a bit of a pain at first, but after everyone got used to it, it worked.
-Parents get a little confused in the beginning, but the kids love it and that helps.

-The teaching team needs to be together on things like discipline, consequences, expectations ...
-When it comes to progress reports, do them together, and trust your colleagues judgements. Sometimes it is hard to let that go ... When we conferenced - with the exception of a few mentioned earlier - it was just our homeroom kids, but we knew the other teachers' assessment of the student.

I know this is long ... hope I covered enough that you get the idea.:)

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how we departmentalized with 6 teachers
Posted by: what about?

Last year our team departmentalized with 6 teachers and it worked out great, with the only issue was making sure we kept in touch and communicated with all the teachers so noone felt out of the loop. We were able to plan together once a week so everyone was on the same page.

6 teachers with 7 periods of instruction per day (not counting lunch, planning and recess)

9:00-9:45 Homeroom: all teachers had their homeroom class and during this time kids went to chorus, some band met, kids make up tests, unpack, checkin, etc

9:45-10:30: Specials

10:30-12:00: 3 teachers taught Reading and Writing while the other 3 taught math. The 3 teaching math taught their homerooms and the other 3 took their homerooms and ability grouped them into 3 groups so that kids were on a scale of 1, 2, 3, or 4 with 1's being below level and 4's being above. Then kids were groups by their numbers so one teacher would have the 2's and 3's, one had the 2's and 4's and the other had the 1's and 3's.

12-12:45 Lunch and recess (by homerooms)

12:45-1:30 same as above for language arts because kids have 3- 45 minute blocks for Language arts. Then the 3 teachers that were teaching math did Science or Social Studies to their same homerooms(1 teacher did science and math all year, another did social studies and math all year, and the 3rd teacher did math, science and social studies all year)

1:30-3:45: the kids that had language arts in the morning went back together as a homeroom to have their math and either science and social studies til the end of the day. Language arts teachers took the other group of kids, grouped them and split them up as described above.

**for the first 41/2 weeks of the quarter kids got either science or social studies then switched and went to the other teacher for the second half of the quarter for the other content area. That third teacher did the same thing but since she taught both science and social studies she had only her homeroom and one other teachers homeroom only, whereas the other 2 teachers who did content eventually saw all the other 4 classes for content except for the 2 that that 3rd teacher was responsible for.

I know it may sound a little confusing but if you can filter through is it was we had a great year because teachers taught 2 subjects only except for one teacher had 3.

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Posted by: MissO

I've only ever taught Language Arts in a team teaching situation (I taught 3rd), so I don't know which would be "easier" to do.

I loved teaming, because I didn't have to worry about the math, and I got to see different groups of kids every day. I also liked only having half the planning of a self-contained teacher. Teaming really helped with parent situations too, because my partner and I could support each other. Some disadvantages will be that you have to keep track of more grades/files/paperwork and that you just plain have more students.

As far as schedules go, when I team-taught, we basically had our homerooms in the morning and then switched after lunch. Depending on your state requirements for instructional minutes by subject, you can split the time.

Practical advice - teach your kids very specifically how to stay organized (I would recommend not letting them keep anything in their desk in either room - everything goes in their backpack and travels with them) and how to switch without disorder. You will also want two of whatever organizational system you have - mailboxes, baskets for completed work, etc. You can separate papers and things by homerooms.

Hope this helps. Let us know how it works out for you! :)

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We change (6th grade)
Posted by: Margaret916

And I personally love it. THere are drawbacks though.

i get to specialize my planning. It seems more meaningful to do a huge experiment, project or something that takes lots of prep when I can do it three times! It's easier for me to plan and prep for even though my three math classes are all different levels and two separate curriculums. I get to choose math conferences or reading conferences or inservices or classes to take. I dont have to worry about the subjects I dont teach. Conferencing is tough if you don't watch becasue you only know about the subject(s) you teach.

flexibility is gone. If I ran out of science time one day I could make it up and double up the next. With this, it's not possible. I have to teach math to three groups... I think when it comes to grades it's tough because you have to exchange to complete the grade cards. Great if you work together well as a team, tough if you have late colleagues or procrastinators. grading gets boring when you grade 85 of the same notebooks (this is my science teachers complaint).

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Posted by: Margaret916

We do this in our sixth grade at our school. They're broken up like this:

1. Math
2. Health and Science
3. Social Studies
4. Writing and Grammar
5. English (focus on Reading and Spelling)

We used to do just always 5 periods a day -- but because of requirements and the way the middle school does it, they've experimented with a block schedule (math every day, 2 of each of the other periods) and others...

We don't teach the same subject twice because we have the same number of teachers we would have if we had self-contained classes, so most of our class sizes are around the average anyway -- does that makes sense? Everyone rotates through, so at any given time we've got the grade split 5 ways.

We have one period around lunch that gets strange b/c of specials. Music and PE are 35 minutes each and art is 55 minutes. So on the day that the kids (grouped by homeroom for specials) have PE or music, they have silent reading time or study hall time or other homeroom activity in that 20 minutes that is different to allow all 6th grade to go to lunch at the same time. This way also provides the teachers common planning time 5 days per week (every other grade level is jealous).

Does this help? Another way we've done it at the 5th grade level when we had 6 teachers was to pair up and each of us chose ss or science. If I taught ss to my class and my partner's class, she taught them both science. We ability group for math (compacted, mixed, supported) and then everyone teaches their own total language arts block (spelling, writing, reading, oral language, etc). So theoretically a kiddo could have 3 different teachers (math, ss/sci, homeroom) in 5th, then move to the 5 differnet teachers in 6th and be prepped for all 8 difffernet teachers they will have in middle school grades. Make sense?

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Posted by: tia

the largest number of classes we've had for sixth at our school is 3.

we've done the following groups (entire class rotated together):
social studies

social studies
language (just writing/grammar--no reading)

and then it's switched up a bit the years we've had only 2 classes/teachers.

right now we have 2 and i teach science/health while my partner teaches social studies. for math we use flexible grouping where we either pretest or look at state test scores to put them into about 4 groups at their ability level (for that UNIT only)

and for reading, they are ability grouped (using fluency test, state reading test, reading basal test, STAR test, and professional judgment) into about 7 groups where they've stayed for over 1/2 the year--we'll move a couple around next week.

i have never taught reading and language together--well, one or two years i had a huge block, but i really only taught either one or the other.

we have always loved the departmentalizing (we only didn't do it one year when we had completely new curriculum and wanted to feel that out). it gives us a chance to work really hard on that one subject and let our talents there shine and ignore a subject we don't like/aren't as good at. and less prep-work is great!

our parents always liked it--they felt it prepared students better for jr. high.

i think it would be difficult with 5 teachers because it's harder to be flexible then--with 2 or 3, one of us could say, i really need to cancel or shorten today because i want to....but with 5 you really need to respect the needs of everyone because it affects so many people and subjects.

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Posted by: SusanTeach

My first year of teaching was departmentalized (I taught 4th) and we had 4 teachers. All of us taught reading to our homeroom - as soon as school started. It helped that the classes were ability-grouped. Then we each had another subject to teach - mine was science.

We switched every hour, I believe, and ended up the last hour with our homeroom again. That way we started and ended our day with our homeroom. It made it easier for attendance, early check-outs, bus/car rider notes, etc...

Whatever class we had at lunchtime was the class we took to lunch. Same thing with activities.

With 5 teachers I would suggest each teacher take a different subject, and give about 50 min. for each. That gives you time for activities and lunch as well. Your first class would be your "homeroom" to make any announcements, attendance, etc... You'd have 15 min. extra in the first class to cover that. Here's a sample schedule for one teacher:
8:00-8:15 - homeroom
8:15-9:05 - Group A
9:10-10:00 - Group B
10:05-10:55 - Group C
11:00-12:25 - Group D (and lunch split into 30 min. shifts)
12:30-1:20 - Group E
1:25-2:15 - Activity (off)

Really, what that does is gives each teacher a different block off for planning time. Each "homeroom" would have a different time for going to different places. Another teacher would have 8:15-9:05 off, then Group A, etc... Does that make sense?

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an hour/5th grade
Posted by: Margaret916

We ability-group within the grade level for math so we have a one hour block of time that we switch kids to different math classes for instruction and practice.

In our hour (in my class) we usually correct/review homework, learn something or re-teach something and do some in class practice with an activity or something.

The hard part is when the hour is up -- your kids have to switch back, whether you have finished or not. I know, i know, departmentalized teachers do this all the time. But my self-contained flexible schedule self likes to reteach on the spot when something isn't working or it's going so well I want to start somthing else!

I dont' think that the negative i listed above though, outweighs how much our kids are progressing in our different groups (one compacted/advanced and four mixed ability where two of the four have an extra teacher and kids with math goals) so that I'd want to change it.

Whoa I rambled on. So sorry.

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