Monday, July 13, 2015

Elementary School Departmenalization {Rewind!}

It's that time of year again... we're all planning for back to school and, some of you, are thinking about making a big change... departmentalizing!

I have gotten a few e-mails about this lately so I wanted to re-wind some old blog posts to give you my two cents about departmentalizing in elementary school.

I LOVE it.  Like seriously love.  Like want do teach this way forever kind of love.

I teach only ELA... spelling, grammar, reading, and writing.

This is what the schedule for 3rd grade looks like:

There are 4 of each grade (3, 4, and 5) in my building.  The first hour and a half of the day, all three grade levels rotate through 30 minute specials... PE, music, art, or computers.  So, one whole grade level is at PE at a time.  The same goes for the block of time from 11:45-12:55... all three grades are moving between lunch and recess.  There is a little overlap at recess with more than one grade being outside at a time but only one grade is ever eating lunch at once.

During blocks 1 and 2, I have the same class for both blocks because ELA is a double block.  My class goes to math and then sciences/social studies for blocks 1 and 2.

My class comes back at lunch and then I have them for the rest of the day and teach them ELA during blocks 3 and 4.

I have shared this graphic before (it's even got my old blog logo on it!) that visually shows where everyone is during each block:

I love teaching just ELA.  I get to do what I love most and what I am best at teaching.  Our students have SO much consistency because they all get the same message from the three teachers they see each day.

I love that students are constantly up and moving.  Sometimes I hear this as a negative- too many transitions... but kids need that.  I love that students' environments change during the day; they get to positively interact with several teachers and not just their own.

I love that I am part of a tightly interconnected team.  I'm the first to admit that I absolutely LOVED being an island when I taught in a self-contained classroom.  I LOVED being on my own schedule and doing things in my own way and making decisions that only effected my students.

But, with that said, there is nothing better than sharing a responsibility for many students and working with a team that shares that with you.  Departmentalizing has made me more focused in my teaching because I know I only have a set amount of time before the students are moving to their next location.  I love that we all work together to make decisions that are best for everyone!

We are very consistent in our classrooms... we share a "finger management system" where students flash a number signal for requests.

We all use a clip chart too... but ours is on a stick so kids can carry it from class to class to make for a shared behavior management system.

We also have bags that our students carry from class to class so they have the things they need.  Text books are left in the desks in the homeroom so students don't carry those with them.  That makes it much easier!

So, that's it in a really tiny nutshell.  If you wonder anything else, please ask!  I'm happy to share!  Or click the tape below to REWIND to some old posts about departmentalizing.


  1. i am almost on board with this concept...however, how is this done when you have only three teaches in a grade level?

    1. I teach sixth grade on teams of three. One teacher teaches math, one ELA, and the other spends half the year teaching science and half teaching social studies. We've done it different ways over the years, but everyone seems to like this way the best. Hope that helps!

  2. My school switched to departmentalizing for 3-5 last year and I absolutely LOVE IT. We used a shared clip chart for behavior too and it was very helpful at the beginning of the year.


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