Platooning in primary school

“Platooning” teachers – creating math/science and reading/history specialists — is growing in popularity in elementary schools, writes Catherine Gewertz in Education Week.

At Sharpstein Elementary School in Washington state, children in second grade and up switch classrooms and teachers several times a day. 

They spend the morning with one teacher for reading and writing, breaking in the middle for music, library, or physical education classes. After lunch, they head to another room for math and science. Then students return to their original teacher for social studies.

Most schools don’t start using specialist teachers till third grade, but some start as early as kindergarten, writes Gewertz. Often students have one teacher for math and science and a second teacher for literacy and social studies. But some schools rotate students among four teachers. 

That means elementary teachers spend less time each day with more students. 

Ian Yale, the principal of Columbia Elementary School in Burbank, Wash., said departmentalizing gives each subject “protected” time. His 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders “get an hour a day in science with teachers who are experts in that subject.”

The school invests more money in deepening teachers’ content knowledge, but saves on curriculum materials.

 Sharpstein Elementary also uses “looping.” Specialized teachers stay with the same students for two years. That helps teachers and students build relationships. 

Team teaching lets one teacher specialize in math and the other in reading, writes Sacha Luria, who’s also a looper. “By specializing and looping I am developing a strong relationship with each child and their families, as well as giving them a strong academic situation.”

Many elementary teachers aren’t well-prepared to teach math and science, especially if they’re expected to teach “high-level concepts.”

Life’s a carnival

The Education Buzz Carnival has returned with “Wish Life Were A Beach,” hosted by Bellringers.

Miss Eyre writes on NYC Educator about the pros and cons of looping, teaching the same class for the second year.

Mamacita loves children’s books about kids who have adventures — not play dates organized and monitored by their mothers, TV and computer games.

Yes, bad things do happen to our children.

Some of those bad things are their lack of freedom, initiative, adventure, creativity, and self-made friends of all ages. Another bad thing is the inability of so many of them to even READ about these kids.

. . . No wonder so many of our kids are fat and stupid. Sheesh. Some of them have never breathed fresh air in their lives – they go from hermetically sealed homes to hermetically sealed schools, with the occasional jaunt to air-conditioned WalMarts and malls. I bet a lot of “allergies” are really just the body’s reaction to fresh air. It’s the lungs gasping and saying, “What IS this stuff?”

There are even DVDs playing the van “lest they have a moment to sit still, look around, notice things, and think,” Mamacita writes. She recommends Elizabeth Enright’s books.