Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Teamwork on a Budget

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Teamwork on a Budget

Article excerpt

Kids, curriculum, and professional development. In his book, Taming of the Team: How Great Teams Work Together, Jack Berckemeyer emphasizes these three major areas as critical to the success of teaming at the middle level. Jack believes "if teams take the time to use these three focal points as their guideposts, teaming will truly find its purpose in today's schools."

In keeping with this philosophy, consider applying the following low-cost/no-cost ideas to enrich your school's implementation of the middle level philosophy without placing a major strain on your budget.

Kids: Open house twist

Transitioning to a new school building with an unfamiliar staff and a new set of students can be an overwhelming experience for young adolescents.

Ease their anxiety by sprucing up the traditional open house with a scavenger hunt. This classic game offers a fun and unique way to introduce students and parents to their new surroundings. The hunt can give students an opportunity to find their lockers, locate specific classrooms, meet school staff, and learn more about schoolhouse traditions.

Distribute team-specific trifold pamphlets to parents and students. These are an excellent way to frontload communication and can include teacher biographies, classroom guidelines and expectations, as well as contact information. Keep the brochures consistent with your team's identity. For instance, if your team name is The Aviators, design a pamphlet that resembles a flight plan. The Superheroes? How about a comic book design?

Reach out to local businesses to help cover costs. For example, if you'd like to award each student a team t-shirt at the end of the scavenger hunt, ask businesses if they would consider paying for the t-shirts in return for having their company's logo printed on the back. They receive affordable, potentially target-rich advertising and your students get some spirit wear to show off their team pride.

Additional Suggestions

* Refer back to the classroom guidelines and expectations section of your team's trifold pamphlet throughout the school year.

* Cultivate business partnerships to ensure you will continue to receive financial assistance for new ideas throughout the school year.

curriculum: Sticky-Note Map

Making cross-curriculum connections can help students gain a better understanding of content, yet the process of linking lesson plans can intimidate some teachers. Begin this creative process by constructing a sticky note curriculum integration map. Kathy Hunt-Ullock presents this practice as an "effective and efficient way to move toward curriculum integration."

Start by supplying each staff member on your interdisciplinary team with a pack of colored sticky notes. Each person (content area) should have a different colored pack. Ask them to use one sticky note for each month of the school year, writing the overarching main idea or objective for that month on each sticky note. For example, language arts might designate September for linguistics, October for poetry, and so on.

When each discipline has completed its task, place all sticky notes on their respective months on a large calendar or piece of poster board and stand back. When everyone can see the big picture a little more clearly, they can shift sticky notes around to develop interdisciplinary units within the existing curriculum. Eventually all of the finer details and points can be broken down into weeks, days, and even class periods.

Additional Suggestions

* Post the curriculum integration map in a centralized location for all team members to see. Think of it as a living, breathing document to revisit during team meetings. …

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