At one of our workshops, a teacher asked the following question: How do you come up with effective co-teaching lessons?" To answer this question, we offer an excerpt from our Corwin Press publication, Collaboration and Co-Teaching, Strategies for English Learners (2010):

ESL Co-Teaching 101: A Quick Start Guide

            From our discussions with ESL and general education teachers, we often are asked how to get started with co-teaching. We offer these following guidelines to jumpstart your program.

First Steps

1.     Start by doing what you know best!! Think of your favorite, most successful lessons, activities, tasks, etc. that always worked in a one-teacher classroom. Be ready to try those out in a co-taught setting.

2.     Make sure that common grade-appropriate, content-based objectives are identified for each lesson. Your ELLs will learn the same content material in an adapted format.

3.     Start the lesson together standing in front of the class. In this way, you establish parity -yourselves as having equal roles in the eyes of all students.)

Lesson starters based on your lesson objectives:

a.     Use a graphic organizer, advance organizer, or some visual aid to offer an overview or introduce a concept.

b.     Do a  role play for your students (frequently take advantage of the fact that two adult English language models are available).

c.     Read aloud (Teacher 1) and think aloud (Teacher 2), commenting on what Teacher 1 just read.

d.     One teacher introduces information, the other teacher clarifies, illustrates, writes key words on the board, shows related pictures, realia, and/or asks questions of key points.

e.     Teach a rhyme, use poetry or fingerplays, sing a song or play music, or involve everyone in a game.

f.       Take turns talking (learn to take signals from each other). 

4.     Consider student grouping configurations for the next section of your lesson.

a.     Split the class into two, approximately even homogenous groups:

                                               i.     Group A: current ELLs, former ELLs, and other learners who need extra support, scaffolding, preteaching, reteaching, etc. 

                                             ii.     Group B: more proficient, native speakers

·      Each teacher stays with his/her group for a set period of time working in a parallel teaching mode using differentiated instructional techniques.

·      The ESL group focuses on language and content that is needed to reach general education goals.  

b.     Split the class into three, approximately even homogenous groups:

                                               i.     Group A: ELLs

                                             ii.     Group B: Learners who need extra support

                                            iii.     Group C: Highest performing group working on advanced tasks independently

·      Teacher 1 takes Group A, Teacher 2 takes Group B, and Group C works independently for a set period of time. Each teacher stays with his/her group for a set period of time working in a parallel teaching mode using differentiated instructional techniques.

c.     Feel free to experiment with other models of instruction such as setting up and monitoring 4-5 learning centers.

5.     In the last section of the lesson, bring the entire class together for debriefing.

a.      Groups take turns sharing ideas and products, outcomes of learning, answers to work sheets, results of problems solved, etc.

b.     Teachers take turns asking  review questions.

c.     Teachers play a closure game (Wonder Ball: Toss a koosh ball to students and have them finish sentence starters such as I wonder, Today I learned, I liked, etc.).  

d.     Teachers use some type of exit activity together (Students respond to one of several possible summary questions on “exit cards,” or “tickets to leave”, slips of paper, or index cards. The ESL teacher or General education teacher collects the “tickets” and uses them for assessment purposes).

6.     Remember to reflect daily (jointly or individually) on the co-teaching experience. Keep a simple “2+2” log: jot down 2 things that worked and 2 things that could be done differently next time.