Increasing Instructional Capacity through Vertical Teaming
By Stanley T. Crawford, Ed.D.
Vertical teaming can be used in m...
How to Plan Vertical Teaming Sessions: A Mathematics Example
We will use an example of vertical teaming in mathematics, ev...
 How many participants do we expect to participate in the vertical teaming session? We
will conduct our vertical teaming ...
a. What did you learn from this activity?
b. Was it an effective activity?
c. How could we improve on the activity?
d. How...
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Increasing instructional capacity through vertical teaming

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Are you interested in Vertical Teaming? Prepare yourself for a few practical examples. This article will provide you with a definition, understanding and practical ways to put vertical teaming into practice. Read it now; download it and share it.

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Transcript of "Increasing instructional capacity through vertical teaming"

  1. 1. Increasing Instructional Capacity through Vertical Teaming By Stanley T. Crawford, Ed.D. Vertical teaming can be used in mathematics, English Language Arts, science, classroom management, student engagement and other areas. Vertical Teaming can be a foundational tool in the development of teamwork and collaboration on your campus. In addition, the use of vertical teaming will build the instructional capacity on your campus (Kowal, 2002). This is very important in the quest to improve student learning. When a school is part of a district the school will contribute to the growth of the district’s instructional capacity. What is Vertical Teaming? Vertical teaming uses vertical teams to achieve the desired objective of improving student learning by developing the instructional skills and abilities of educators. A vertical team as defined by The Texas Leadership Center (1998) is a “small number of people from different levels within an organization who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable” (p.18). In its broadest since educators can mean any teacher, administrator, or paraprofessional who has a direct impact on student learning. At the teacher level, vertical teaming consists of the use of activities that bring together teachers from various grade levels for the purpose of improving student learning. For instance, Kindergarten teachers and First Grade teachers might collaborate on an activity that involves sharing examples about how they teach students various mathematics concepts. In addition, the members of each grade level might discuss the curriculum’s learning expectations for students at the start of their school year, and the end of the school year for the students in their respective grade level. As teachers use vertical teaming to share their expertise in their given grade levels teachers often obtain the following benefits: 1. Develop added respect for what the other grade level does to facilitate student learning which results in better collegiality. 2. Learn where students should end the year in the grade level below their grade level, which results in better curriculum alignment. 3. Learn where students should be at the start of the grade level above their grade level which results in better curriculum alignment. 4. Increase teacher collaboration which results in teams that operate more effectively and efficiently. 5. Increase the building’s instructional capacity for student learning, which results in an increase of the school district’s instructional capacity (Bertrand, Roberts, and Buchanan, 2006). All of these benefits help to lay the foundation for future student learning opportunities. Future learning opportunities are often created through technology developments, and changes in the local and global work environments.
  2. 2. How to Plan Vertical Teaming Sessions: A Mathematics Example We will use an example of vertical teaming in mathematics, even though as stated previously vertical teaming can be used with other subjects and topics. We will use an elementary school example; however the strategy may be applied to secondary grade levels, as well. The facilitator should start by answering the following guiding questions:  What is the focus of the vertical teaming session? This question will give us focus. It will keep us from wandering over the entire curriculum area. Some possible focus points are to o Analyze Common Core Standards or State Standards for mathematics. o Analyze mathematics benchmark test data. o Discuss specific strategies that are used in order to teach a specific mathematics skill. o Describe how to differentiate mathematics instruction in order to improve student learning. o The possible focus points are endless.  Who will be our facilitators?  How many sessions do you need in order to cover the focus point? You may decide that a specific focus point is best covered in one session or two or more sessions.  How long will the session(s) take? This question will be driven by several factors. Such as, the focus point, the group who will be participating in the vertical teaming session, and various other factors  What materials will be needed for the session(s)? Of course the materials will depend on the focus point, and who will facilitate the session, the venue for the session, and how many participants are expected to participate.  How many participants do we expect to participate in the vertical teaming session? This will impact the venue and amount of needed materials. Let us look at an example plan for a vertical teaming mathematics session using our guiding questions.  What is the focus of the vertical teaming session? Our purpose will be to analyze Common Core Standards or State Standards for mathematics.  Who will be our facilitators? Our facilitators will be an administrator and two teachers who are extremely knowledgeable about the Common Core Standards or State Standards for mathematics standards.  How many sessions do you need in order to cover the focus point? We will cover our focus point, Common Core Standards or State Standards for mathematics, in one session.  How long will the session(s) take? Our session will last 90 minutes.  What materials will be needed for the session(s)? We will need the following materials: o Chart paper o Markers o Tape o Copies of our Common Core Standards or State Standards for mathematics
  3. 3.  How many participants do we expect to participate in the vertical teaming session? We will conduct our vertical teaming session with grades PK through 6. With our guiding questions answered, we are now ready to proceed to how to conduct our vertical teaming session. How to Conduct the Vertical Teaming Session When preparing for the facilitation of the vertical teaming session, remember to address the audience’s visual and auditory learners. Even as educators, we use diverse methods of learning. Steps three and four should be written on a card or displayed in some form so that groups may refer to the procedures during the vertical teaming session. In addition, for each activity in step three the facilitator should indicate how much time the groups should spend on each activity. This is important. In addition, the facilitators should take notice of each group’s progress as they facilitate. 1. Ask participants to sit by grade level. 2. Next, group grade levels for the vertical teaming sessions. For instance, in our example we will use two rounds in our vertical teaming session. a. Round 1 will consist of the following three groups: (PK-K), (1-2), (3-4-5). b. Round 2 will consist of the following three groups: (PK-K-1), (2-3), (4-5). 3. For round one each group should: a. Review the standards for their particular grade level. (5 minutes) b. Take turns by grade level within each group doing the following activities (20 minutes): i. Describing the standards for their grade level. ii. Answer the following questions: 1. What are the challenges to facilitating student learning, if any? 2. How are the challenges to facilitating student learning resolved? iii. Record the key points of the discussion on the chart paper. iv. Post the chart paper in the room for everyone to see. 4. Next, have the groups form into the groups for round two and follow the activities below: a. Take turns by grade level within each group doing the following activities (20 minutes): i. Describing the standards. ii. Answer the following questions: 1. What are the challenges to facilitating student learning, if any? 2. How are the challenges to facilitating student learning resolved? iii. Record the key points of the discussion on the chart paper. iv. Post the chart paper in the room for everyone to see. b. All groups should walk around and view the comments on the chart paper. (10 minutes) 5. Bring everyone together as a whole group. Seek feedback on the following:
  4. 4. a. What did you learn from this activity? b. Was it an effective activity? c. How could we improve on the activity? d. How will this activity help you to improve student learning? How Does Vertical Teaming Increase Instructional Capacity? Let us start off by defining capacity, The New Oxford American dictionary (2001) defines capacity as the ability or power to do, experience, or understand something. In the context of instructional capacity, we will define instructional capacity as the ability, experience and understanding to facilitate student learning to the level expected by the approved curriculum standards and goals of the school and or district. It is important that goals are included in the definition as well as curriculum, because a school or district might have goals that are not part of the written curriculum, but none the less are goals that the district wants to achieve. It is important to realize that the needed instructional capacity will change because of multiple factors; such as technology advancements in society, social acceptances in society, and just simply by the progression that occurs when new knowledge is learned by students. Increasing instructional capacity is usually accomplished through various components. One of the components being improvement capacities (Lane, 2009). This is the category for increasing instructional capacity through vertical teaming As a matter of fact a school or district will likely need several different strategies to increase their instructional capacity, depending on their students’ learning needs. In this article, we have advocated the use of vertical teaming as an effective way to increase instructional capacity. By using vertical teaming we can increase our instructional capacity by developing strategies, sharing strategies, and discussing the pros and cons of implementation of the various strategies at different grade levels, all for the purpose of improving student learning. References Bertrand, L., Roberts, R. A., & Buchanan, R. (2006). Striving for success: Teacher perspectives of a vertical team initiative. National Forum of Teacher Education Journal-Electronic 16(3), 1-10. Jewell, E.J. & Abate, F. (Eds.) (2001). The New Oxford American Dictionary. Oxford University Press, Inc. New York, NY: Oxford. Kowal, P.H. (2002). Vertical teaming: Making connections across levels. Middle Ground 6(1), 20-22. Lane, B. (2009). Exploring the pathway to rapid district improvement. Lincoln, IL: the Center on Innovation & Improvement, Academic Development Institute. Texas Leadership Center. (1998). Vertical teaming: Connections for a coherent system. Austin, TX: Author. Dr. Stanley T. Crawford is an educator, author, and poet. Subscribe to The Stanley Newsletter @ www.stanleycrawford.com. Follow me on Twitter: @Artistwithwords. Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.

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