The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.
I begin every Math class with a high-energy strategy called Threshold. Students line up outside the classroom door "dressed for success" in their uniforms with their shirts tucked in. After a group greeting, a Math chant (practicing our multiples), and instructions for entering, my students walk to the door, shake my hand, enter the room, and immediately begin a Math warm-up. Threshold ensures that all of my students transition from their previous class smoothly and that their minds are ready for Math instruction.
Student-Led Homework Review is a form of differentiation, where students with the same level of homework collaborate and review their homework assignment from the prior night. Since it would take too long to have teacher-led reviews for each group, we have students share their answers and help each other figure out the correct answers with their peers. Though I sometimes give them answer keys, I push students to discuss problems and figure out the correct solutions through their reasoning skills. This process encourages collaboration and accuracy in students' homework practice.
A positive classroom culture promotes student engagement, efficiency, and academic growth. Culture influences how and why students learn and ties the students to the teacher on a personal level. Check out the video below to see how Stephen's culture impacts student achievement!