Replacing Tracking With Team Teaching
The "old way'' was Cammack with her own classroom, teaching students who had been grouped by ability. The new way is Cammack and another English teacher working together with about 60 students of varying abilities.
"We present information to them in a large group,'' she says. "Then we break them up as frequently as we can in a variety of ways.''
For example, the students read a novel of their own choosing (there are about 150 to pick from), and then they all answer the same general questions about plot and character. Other assignments are intended to be more interdisciplinary-- students might read Japanese fairy tales in conjunction with their social studies lessons on Japan.
Each week, the students turn in a work packet, which allows the teachers to see how everyone is progressing. Fast learners can move on to new books, and students who appear to be struggling can be offered help on specific skills.
Cammack believes the team setup makes for more effective teaching; while one of the two teaches a large group, the other can walk around the room and work with students alone or in small groups.
"I think it helps everyone,'' she says. "Some of the slow kids for years just thought they were slow, but now they're really starting to contribute.''
Cammack says many other teachers in the district seem threatened by the experiment, which is now in its third year. --D.G.