Improving Collaboration through the Co-Teaching Model – EDU6918 Course Reflection

  1. Professional Practice Criteria – The teacher participates collaboratively in the educational community to improve instruction, advance the knowledge and practice of teaching as a profession, and ultimately impact student learning.

Program standard 8 suggests that educators engage with one another in an effort to improve teaching practices and become better educators, with the goal of benefiting students in a positive manner. One way in which teachers can promote a positive atmosphere and collaboration is through the co-teaching model, which I learned about in EDU6918 Introduction to Teaching. According to Seattle Pacific University’s Residency Teacher Certification Handbook (2015), the co-teaching model “is a teaching and learning situation where two teachers work together in a classroom with the same group of students; both sharing the planning, organization, delivery and assessment of instruction…” (p. 26). Through use of the co-teaching model, teacher candidates become competent communicators, engage in collaboration effectively, and improve instructional techniques (Ploessl et al, 2010).

Figure 1

Although I have not yet begun the internship component, I have had the opportunity to work and engage with other students in my cohort. Figure 1 shows an exchange I had with a colleague, and demonstrates mutual respect, cordiality, and the ability to further deepen understanding through communication. Furthermore, these interactions confirmed that collaboration is beneficial to all parties, in that it allows for exploration of concepts in ways we may not have considered, had we worked individually. As a result, lessons and instruction can be improved, which ultimately allows for higher achievement for our students. It is crucial that teacher candidates develop the social skills and positive rapport needed to work effectively with mentor teachers, in addition to the professional community within the school and district.

As the school year approaches, I have been reflecting on ways in which I can improve my collaborative participation in the educational community. Ploessl et al (2010) assert that “co-teachers must work closely together, combining their techniques, goals, and curricula in a way that not only meets their students’ unique academic and behavioral needs, but also rejuvenates the teachers’ professional passion and commitment” (p. 158). By maintaining clear communication, openness to both positive and negative feedback, and voicing my own thoughts or concerns, I will become proficient in collaboration with others in the educational community. Through collaboration, I will learn new instructional techniques and methods, and can directly apply these in the classroom, to the benefit of my students.


Ploessl, D. et al. (2010). On the same page: Practical techniques for enhancing co-teaching interactions. Intervention in School and Clinic, 45 (3), 158-168. Retrieved from:

Seattle Pacific University School of Education. (2015). 2015-2016 Residency Teacher Certification Handbook. Retrieved from: Ed Handbook/Residency Teacher Certification Handbook 2015_2016.pdf

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ISTE Standard 5 – The Importance of Digital Footprint Education

Question: How can we best teach students about digital footprints?  What are the most important things they should know?

ISTE Standard 5’s central theme is focused on digital citizenship, which encompasses safe use of technology, exhibiting a positive attitude toward technology, and leadership in digital citizenship (ISTE Standard 5). I chose to focus my attention on digital footprints because it is important that students are aware that their digital footprint can reveal personal information, be used by prospective employers or admission committees, and leaves a trail of the sites visited. When students know this information, they are in a better position to determine the way in which they want to portray themselves on the internet.

The article 10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints (Digital Media in the Classroom, n.d.) outlines ten of the most important things students should consider when using social media.  The article states, “many teens are unconcerned about the dangers of sharing personal information online” which is a huge concern of parents and teachers.  The author begins the list by saying that colleges and potential employers search online to see who the candidate is, and often make decisions based on what they see.  He also states that students can create profiles, but to leave out specific details about themselves.  Finally, the author cites the quote, “the internet is forever” which posits that even if you delete an email, it truly hasn’t disappeared. Students need to be aware that their actions online can have serious implications on their future, and they need to make conscious decisions about the information they want to convey to the world.

The Teaching Channel posted a video that shows how one teacher educated her elementary students about digital safety and personal information in an interactive manner. The teacher begins by asking students what they may see on a classroom bulletin board and connects it to the things someone may see online. She goes on to tell students they are detectives and need to find out whether the information the characters are displaying keeps them safe or unsafe online. The activities are fun for the students, while discussing the importance of maintaining some privacy when creating online profiles. The video can be retrieved from:

Another way in which teachers can educate their students about digital footprints and safety is through analyzing online profiles. Teachers can find positive and negative examples of people who are using social media, and then have students determine which pieces of information are appropriate and which ones are divulging too much personal information. The goal is not to scare students, but rather to show them the impact that their digital footprint can have on their lives.  Students need to be taught how to leave a positive digital footprint without compromising their safety.

Link to coggle:


Digital Media in the Classroom. (n.d.). 10 Things Your Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints. Retrieved from:

Teaching Channel. (n.d.). Follow the Digital Trail. Retrieved from:

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ISTE Standard 4 – Using Computer Games to Develop Problem Solving Skills in Children

Question: What online games exist that support and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborating with others?

The central focus of ISTE Standard 4 is helping “students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources” (ISTE Standard 4). While I was reading one of the required assignments, 3 Ways Coding and Gaming Can Enhance Learning (Kiang, 2014), I thought back to my own experiences as a child, and realized that many of the problem solving and critical thinking skills I developed were through playing board games.  As technology has gained a larger presence since I was a child, many of these games, as well as others, that I played can now be played online.

The article Elementary School Students Level Up with Math Games (Roscorla, 2011) outlines a variety of math related games that students across the nation are using to help build problem solving skills.  Sussex Elementary School, located within the Baltimore County Public School District, has been using a program called First in Math.  Not only is it engaging for students, but it has motivated students and has resulted in an increase in math proficiency.  According to the article, “in 2009, the school’s students were 69.8 percent proficient and advanced in math. But in 2010, that percentage jumped to 94.3” (Roscorla, 2011).  Students in 5th grade at Berthoud Elementary School in Colorado use iPads to play Bismarck and SET, which are based off of 2 physical games (Roscorla, 2011).  Students play in teams and play other teams in the building. Another program used in Baltimore in their Middle School is Lure of the Labyrinth.  This game has a story line and students solve problems to advance to the next level (Roscorla, 2011).

I also realized that another game I researched in a previous post applied to this one as well. DreamBox Learning created fun, online math games for students in PreK through 8th grade (DreamBox, 2015). It is engaging for students and allows each child to work at their own pace. This is fantastic because students who require more time on a certain topic can take longer to complete that unit, while others can move to other math units. While this is not a substitute for teaching math, it is a great program to use in conjunction with a math curriculum. Additionally, DreamBox provides teachers and parents with real time data for each student, and it gives tips for fun math activities that parents can do with their kids. Through these games, students further develop problem solving skills and learn about a variety of techniques that may not be taught in a traditional learning environment. I found two videos that discuss the many benefits of DreamBox: and

An added benefit to online games that I had not considered was brought up in the Roscorla article.  Roscorla states, “the students couldn’t come to school for eight days during a two-week stretch of heavy snowfall… Even though they didn’t have school, the students actually played math games to pass the time” (2011).  Introducing educational games in the classroom can have profound effects on academic achievement, while encouraging students to develop problem solving skills that can be transferred to experiences outside of the classroom.


Kiang, D. (2014). 3 Ways Coding and Gaming Can Enhance Learning. Retrieved from

Roscorla, T. (2011). Elementary School Students Level Up with Math Games. Retrieved from

DreamBox Learning. (2015). DreamBox. Retrieved from

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ISTE Standard 3 – Integrating Blended Learning in Elementary Classrooms


How can blended learning be integrated in an elementary classroom and what are the benefits?

ISTE Standard 3 considers how students can “apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information” (ISTE Standard 3). One of our assigned readings this week discussed blended learning in an entire California school district (Wong, 2014). This led me to look for specific programs that can support blended learning, but allow for sufficient traditional learning experiences to occur. I don’t feel that technology should become a substitute for face-to-face interactions at school, but if used appropriately, blended learning environments can be a tremendous asset for teachers and students.

In my search for programs that support blended learning, I discovered DreamBox. According to their website, “DreamBox is PreK-8 math solution driven by a technology that’s as unique as the students and educators who need it, love it, and use it to go to the next level” (, 2015). DreamBox makes math fun by incorporating games, and then it provides the teacher with real time data for each student.  Additionally, it is customizable so students in the same grade can be working on math at different levels.  Blended learning allows teachers to provide more individualized instruction for each child, and thus better support. The article Making Blended Learning Work in Elementary Schools (Vander Ark, 2012) provides examples from four different educators about creating a blended learning environment in elementary schools. One teacher referenced in the article explains how DreamBox helped her students progress an entire grade level during one school year, despite larger class sizes and higher expectations of students.  If implemented correctly and used in conjunction with traditional learning experiences, blended learning can provide many opportunities for student growth.


Vander Ark, T. (2012). Making Blended Learning Work in Elementary Schools. Retrieved from

Wong, W. (2014). How Technology Enables Blended Learning. Retrieved from

DreamBox Learning. (2015). DreamBox. Retrieved from

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ISTE Standard 2 – Supporting Collaboration Among ELLs


How can teachers of ELL students use technology to facilitate collaboration and interactions with peers?

ISTE Standard 2 explores communication and collaboration through technology.  I was interested in learning how this may benefit at-risk students, particularly English Language Learners (ELLs).

One article I found discussed a variety of technologies that educators were able to explore during an annual TESOL conference. Teachers learned about and practiced creating digital stories, podcasts, exploring Google Docs, and posting in blogs, which they could then bring to the classroom (Rance-Roney, 2008). For example, teachers may require that students use Google Docs to peer-review essays. I particularly enjoyed that this article discussed two important components to developing literacy for ELLs – English literacy and computer literacy. Students who do not have access to computers at home are at a disadvantage, so it’s important that students are given the opportunity to use and learn about a variety of technologies.

Another article reiterates many of the ideas from the first article, however, it explains in more depth the benefits to using tools like blogs, wikis, and emails (, n.d.). Blogging is useful in that it helps students express ideas without the pressure of formal writing. One of the best parts of blogging is that it allows students to interact with others through reading and commenting on other blogs. The webpage Investing in the future highlights the benefits to using SMART Boards in the classroom. A SMART Board is an interactive whiteboard, which enables teachers to create more engaging, interactive, and interesting lessons. Furthermore, SMART Boards “support student collaboration opportunities” (, 2011).

It is especially important that ELL students are afforded opportunities to collaborate with peers in order to increase their English proficiency. By utilizing technology in the classroom, we can create exciting and engaging lessons that promote collaboration, and help our students develop the skills needed to succeed in school and in the future.


Rance-Roney, J. (2008). Technology in the English Language Learner Classroom? National Writing Project. Retrieved from

Investing in the Future (2011). Retrieved from

Technology Tools for ELL Students (n.d.). Retrieved from

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ISTE Standard 1 – Technology in Lower Elementary Classrooms


How can technology enhance the learning experiences of lower elementary students, and allow for them to produce better work?

ISTE Standard 1 discusses a variety of ways in which students can utilize technology to “demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes” (ISTE Standard 1). As I read through Build engagement and knowledge one block at a time with minecraft, I was impressed by the author’s ability to identify that Minecraft can be used as a way to engage reluctant learners, and create an effective learning tool from a game (Tromba, 2013). While the article discussed the use of Minecraft in Middle School, I realized that tools and games like this could probably be used in lower elementary grades.

The article Introducing social media to elementary students (retrieved at illustrated a variety of ways to bring social media into the classroom in a safe manner, while allowing students to learn about the world around them without leaving the classroom (Holland, 2013). Holland describes how one 1/2 classroom uses Twitter, blogs, and Skype to allow children to network with other students globally. The discoveries made by these children could not be replicated if they were limited to classroom textbooks (Holland, 2013). In another example, the teacher created a blog bulletin board, where students could share their work and learn about the appropriate ways to respond to each other (Holland, 2013). Students were able to practice their writing while sharing their work with the school community. Other classrooms use Skype as a way to communicate with business leaders and other classrooms. According to Bhaskar (2013) students can engage in debates, reader’s theater, discussions, and collaborate with other students on projects (retrieved at Allowing students the opportunity to work with students from other parts of the world is helping them develop skills that will be an asset when they enter the workforce, since many professions require communication with individuals from other nations. Here is a video that demonstrates the benefits of using Skype in the classroom:

As a future educator, it is important to be aware of the ways technology can be brought into the classroom to facilitate collaboration and cross-cultural experiences, which both allow for deeper understanding and learning. While many of the writing activities could be difficult for Kindergartners to do individually, we could work as a class to create a blog where we discuss things we have been learning. Skype is another tool that can be useful across all grades. Through social media and technology, we can enhance learning experiences for our students by exploring other cultures from the comfort of our own classroom. I am excited to incorporate many of these technologies in my classroom to inspire students and help them excel.

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Characteristics of an Effective Educator

There are a variety of skills and traits that educators should ideally possess in order to be most effective.  In order to convey information to students, teachers must have a strong understanding of their subject matter.  It is crucial that teachers be organized and take the time to lesson plan and outline classroom expectations, both academic and behavioral. This lays the foundation for a teacher to maximize classroom efficiency. Educators must then enforce the set expectations to ensure that students are in an atmosphere which encourages learning without unnecessary distractions. Part of enforcing expectations when students engage in undesirable behaviors is for the educator to identify the undesirable behavior and explain what the expected behavior is, always allowing the student to try again. School is one of the few times in a person’s life where they have the opportunity to make errors without significant consequences. Thus, an effective educator provides students the opportunity to make mistakes, as well as to correct them in an atmosphere that embraces making mistakes and the learning that comes from them. Another important characteristic of an effective educator is exhibiting virtues like humility, patience, empathy, honesty, and integrity. The ability to admit to mistakes and admit one’s own shortcomings is crucial to showing the world’s future leaders what an upstanding citizen and role model looks like. Finally, and most importantly, is that an educator develops meaningful relationship with students, parents, and colleagues. The ability to develop positive relationships is the characteristic that most sets apart an effective educator from an indifferent one. Once students feel cared for and develop a sense of trust, their receptiveness to learning increases exponentially, which in turn helps unlock the students’ life potential. While no single attribute guarantees an educator will be effective, the combination of the aforementioned characteristics will ensure that an educator is maximizing their effectiveness and laying the foundation for students to develop into lifelong learners.

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