Liven Up Co-Teaching with These Tech Ideas

A MiddleWeb Blog

two_teachers-nobord-210Technology can be one of those topics that excites and motivates co-teachers as they co-create lively learning experiences—or it can be a topic that makes any co-teaching conversation fall flat.

I’m here to remind co-teachers out there to embrace the power of technology! We must always check in with ourselves to make sure we step out of any comfort zones—to really liven up the co-teaching life! Our students need us to make this commitment.

Whether you are a tech savvy co-teacher or not, this post is for you! Either way you will connect and plan ahead for ways you can spark up your co-teaching experiences.

So, let’s take the next few new-comfort-zone steps together…

1. Technology Connects Two Teachers

Consider using technology to ramp up your teacher-to-teacher connectedness. Simple ideas such as emailing, texting, or opening a shared Google Doc are fine places to start—but it is time to consider taking another step forward.

Anne Beninghof ‘s MiddleWeb guest post on 8 Great Alternatives to Co-Teaching Workshops is a great read if you’re thinking about weaving in meaningful professional development. Take a stand to create your own PD experiences—Anne offers some good ideas—with and without the use of technology!

m-friendThere’s an exciting new resource by Marilyn Friend and Brian Friedlander—check out Co-Teaching and Technology: Enhancing Communication & Collaboration by National Professional Resources, Inc. Friend and Friedlander offer supports on a wide range of co-teaching topics including co-planning, instructional strategies, data collection, and more!

2. Technology Connects Two Teachers and Students

As co-teachers we know we must have a mindset for accepting whatever comes our way. We must be flexible, on-the-go thinkers times two! It can get tricky sometimes. But there are ways to smooth the process.

As a natural starting point, deepen your understanding of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to create powerful learning experiences. For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, UDL is something you are familiar with…but there’s always room to learn more and go deeper into application opportunities for you in your current co-teaching setting(s).

Some more UDL tools include UDL Exchange where you can immerse yourself in expanding your repertoire of strategies and lesson plans that align with the UDL principles. The UDL magic does not stop there—check out these Free Learning Tools at CAST where you will find amazing resources for any grade or content area.

Consider using these UDL links as a co-teaching expedition…take a few minutes to navigate the sites on your own…and then share just one tool (with your co-teacher) that you would like to apply to liven up your co-teaching know-how!

3. Some More Tech Tools

Explore and enjoy the following links and consider the ways to extend your co-teaching with technology as you co-create meaningful learning experiences for every learner in the room!

visuwordsPadlet: a digital bulletin board to post images, messages, and ideas to support student participation and collaboration.

Visuwords: an online graphical dictionary that supports students to visualize the definitions and relationships between vocabulary words.

Class Dojo: a way to co-create, motivate, and organize meaningful learning environments by encouraging students to take charge of their learning.

nearpodnearpod: the options are endless as teachers create visual, interactive lesson plans to engage students.

Socrative: provides motivating formative assessments that keep learners engaged in the moment.

Elizabeth's 2016 UDL book

Elizabeth’s 2016 UDL book from CAST

With some steady effort outside our comfort zone, we’ll begin feeling a bit more comfortable. Give yourself the time you need—as long as you are taking steps to move forward. Make technology a natural part of your co-teaching routine by simply making the decision to try something new. Trying it with your classroom partner(s) is a great way to create deeper connections and  strengthen your co-teaching relationships.

How has this post revved up your thinking or sparked your connections with using technology in your classrooms? Let’s keep this conversation going!

Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein has more than 20 years teaching experience spanning grades K-8, specializing in universal design for learning and special education. She’s currently a special education/UDL instructional coach and new-teacher mentor in Long Island NY’s Smithtown Central School District. Elizabeth is National Board Certified in Literacy, and a contributor to Education Week and other publications. Her books include Comprehension Lessons for RTI (Grades 3-5) (Scholastic, 2013), Elevating Co-Teaching Through UDL (CAST, 2016) and Two Teachers in the Room: Strategies for Co-Teaching Success (Routledge, 2017). Follow her on Twitter @elizabethlstein and #coteachat

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