Workshop is a powerful strategy that provides my students with a degree of choice in how they learn the content in my blended learning classroom. It is also a method of holding them accountable for their choices. I believe that it's important for my students to learn how to manage their time and how to evaluate their learning options so that they can grow closer to taking charge of their own education. Each day, student groups receive "tallies"--ratings for moving quickly, making smooth transitions, and employing responses that feature academic vocabulary and professionalism. I use these tallies to determine the order in which student groups select their blended learning stations on the following day.
Storybird is an amazing, free, online software that allows students to create their own stories using real artist's works and collaborate and share among their class. In math, it is always essential to get students to appreciate the real world contexts in which their work is derived. Storybird allows students to incorporate literacy and their own interests into the math that we are working on. It also allows for feedback from the teacher to make sure that the math value that students are getting out of their stories is pure and real. Students must work within a rubric to develop a starting number sentence or operation into a real context. The deep discussions around verbs and operations that occurs is invaluable for a synthesis of the math concepts. Oh, and it is reallly fun to read each others!
The Power Up is a component of the lesson in which I gamify computational skills that my students have seen in prior lessons, or pre-teach the recall aspects of an upcoming skill. The skill remains the same all week, culminating in an assessment that is tracked. My students use the tracker for investment and to earn Dojo Dollar bonuses in the class economy.
Sometimes the only thing holding students back is practice time. It's amazing how much they can get done when they get themselves into a work frenzy. During Rapid Fire, we create a "controlled crazy" by playing techno music while students work in pairs to solve as many computation problems as possible in five minutes. This is a great strategy to use before taking the lesson to word problems, and provides a break from sitting quietly and attentively during the lesson. There is also always an element of choice in what the students want to focus on, helping them to adjust their self-evaluation for later on.