Tressa Otis, 7, draws a card to play a game of bingo with her teacher, Karen Eitel, on the ELMO document camera being projected to other students during first-grade class at Ridgeview Elementary School. The game was called “Plus One or Two Bingo,” where a card with a number was pulled from the deck and the children had to decide to add one or two to make the best match for their bingo card.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Tressa Otis, 7, draws a card to play a game of bingo with her teacher, Karen Eitel, on the ELMO document camera being projected to other students during first-grade class at Ridgeview Elementary School. The game was called “Plus One or Two Bingo,” where a card with a number was pulled from the deck and the children had to decide to add one or two to make the best match for their bingo card.

Ridgeview teachers collaborate for 1st-graders

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Holleigh Jensen, 6, right, plays Bingo while Chantel Chase, 6, looks over the board in their first-grade class at Ridgeview Elementary School. Students from Karen Eitel and Susan Goodenow’s classes work together to promote developmental social skills.

Meet the teachers

Names: Susan Goodenow and Karen Eitel

Class: First grade at Ridgeview Elementary School

Years with Moffat County School District: 32 years and 26 years, respectively

Teaching philosophy: “Every child can learn no matter what.”

— Kalicia MacGregor, 6, was crouched over her bingo board, intent on beating her partner, Tressa Otis.

“I won twice already,” announced Tressa, a first-grader in Karen Eitel’s class at Ridgeview Elementary School.

The girls turned number cards over one by one and had to practice adding either one or two to the number, then placing a pink or blue block on the corresponding number on their bingo boards.

The two first graders normally spend their days in separate but adjacent classrooms at Ridgeview.

But several times a week, teachers Susan Goodenow and Eitel combine their students for collaborative learning.

“I like it because Ms. Goodenow is nice and Ms. Eitel is nice,” Kalicia said. “I like the other kids.”

Tressa said many of her best friends were in the room next door, so she enjoyed the collaborative lessons.

Eitel purposely assigned her students to work with Goodenow’s during Thursday’s math lesson because her class had learned “Plus One or Two Bingo” a few days before.

She said both classes can benefit from teaching and learning from their peers.

“I think the ones that get to teach really feel better about themselves for it,” Eitel said. “And they get to know the other kids better.”

Goodenow, who has worked for the district for more than 30 years, said working closely with another classroom has opened up many doors.

“We do a lot of collaboration,” she said. “It helps because we can divide up both of our classes by ability groups in reading, so everyone can work with students on their own level.”

Eitel is also the perfect complement in teaching style and personality, Goodenow said.

“You want a partner that thinks the same as you and wants to try new things,” she said. “It’s great because if we see a student who is struggling, we can both work with them and see the same things and talk about them.”

She said the combined lessons were not only enjoyable for the students, but they also help with social development.

“I think it’s good for them to learn to be more flexible,” she said. “They can get to know different styles of teaching and being around different adults.”

After the bingo collaboration, the students all returned to their respective classrooms, but the partnership didn’t end there.

Goodenow’s students discussed weather, thermometers and temperatures before heading to their desks to write about what they had learned.

They had taken a trip to the library where they learned about the weather station that measured temperature and wind chill, all staggeringly low numbers that would keep them indoors Thursday during recess.

Directly on the other side of the chalkboard Goodenow was writing on, Eitel read to her students along a similar vein.

She showed them pictures of the penguins and polar bears that might be at home in the arctic chill outside.

Eitel’s student Gwen Doizaki didn’t seem to mind the freezing temperatures.

“I love the penguins and the littly bitty ones,” she said. “It feels like the North Pole outside. Except I don’t think there are schools up there, except maybe for the little elves.”

When both classes headed to the library at lunch, a group of teachers, including Goodenow, settled in Eitel’s room for lunch.

When speaking about their students and teaching philosophies, the two bounced ideas off each other and sometimes finished the other’s sentences.

“We’re pretty much on the same wavelength,” Goodenow said.

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