Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow Day Collaboration


So another snow day. Another day where I could be teaching my kids the wonders of Newton's Laws, but instead I'm stuck at home fretting over all the time I'm losing.

However, I'm not sitting on the sofa eating bon bons and doing my nails. I'm actually getting work done. And believe it or not, I'm actually collaborating with Mrs. Eagle on this work even though she's at her house across town (and in the woods with really bad roads).

First, a bit about collaboration. Mrs. Eagle and I have collaborated for the past six years. Honestly, neither one of us can even begin to imagine putting together lessons without the other's input. Why reinvent the wheel? So every week we get together, along with Mrs. Hummingbird who is the new 7th grade science teacher on her team this year, and spend about thirty minutes discussing and going over what we want to do the following week. We throw out ideas, go through our files and find cool stuff, and it's a real give and take. By the time we're done, we've come up with a pretty solid plan for the next week, I've typed up and printed the lessons, and we've assigned our jobs for the week. Mrs. Eagle usually does the vocabulary tests and study guides, I do the unit tests and rubrics, and Mrs. Hummingbird does the guided outlines. It works well. We even get together and copy all the stuff we need at the same time.

Why more people don't do this - and apparently a lot don't - is beyond me. Mrs. Eagle thinks it's a power and control thing and she may be right. All I know is it works for us.

Last year the Guidance Goober gave me the head's up on a great website that allows you to share documents with others. Even better, every time one of these documents is updated, it updates on all the other computers it is located on. It's called Dropbox. We've set one up for 7th grade science and we store all our documents there. So, when I'm doing lessons, or the test, and Mrs. Eagle is doing her tests and study guides, and Mrs. Hummingbird is doing the outlines, we can all see the documents, modify them, and access them without having to constantly email copies back and forth.

So yesterday, Mrs. Eagle and I spent the morning collaborating on a new unit we're going to do if we can ever get back to school to finish the one we're currently working on. (Mrs. Hummingbird, bless her, has three kids of her own and can't find a second to even think since they're all home from school today, and besides, she's been working ahead on the she's off the hook today).

I spent a few hours on the test, saved it to the Dropbox and while I was looking in the folder noticed that Mrs. Eagle had done the vocabulary quizzes and study guide. I printed them out, noticed a couple of typos, fixed them on the computer, saved them again, and gave Mrs. Eagle a call.

"Hey, I've dropped the test and want you to take a second to go over it when you get a chance," I told her.

"No problem. Did you see the study guide and quiz? Let me know if you find any mistakes," she said.

"Already fixed them," I responded.

"Great! I'll check over the test then for you," she said.

And so forth. We discussed what we've done - whined about the snow day for a bit - and then finished our call.

Today I'm going to do our lessons (which basically consists of moving everything up ahead) and I'll drop them in the box for Mrs. Eagle and Mrs. Hummingbird to look at. We're losing our lesson planning time (every Wednesday) so we might as well do it this way so we're up and running when we get back to school.

Pretty cool.

1 comment:

Theresa Milstein said...

What a smart thing to do. I'm sure your students benefit from this collaboration.

Two years ago, my children's school hired two new fourth-grade teachers who were new to teaching. They did all their planning together. The result? They avoided a lot of the growing pains that new teachers experience. When my son had one of them the next year, it was the best school year of his life.

Thank for the link.