Academic Culture

Brain Power

Brain Power is a strategy my students and I use to promote a classroom culture of risk-taking, resilience, and collaboration. Early in the year, I teach my students to wiggle their fingers towards their peers who are thinking of an answer or trying to correct an incorrect response. This strategy creates wait time and encourages my students to continue their thinking process without giving up.

Strategy Resources (2)
Students In Action
Strategy Explanation
This is a list of some other movements that we utilize in class to build joy and success in our room.
Students In Action
Strategy Explanation
This is a list of some other movements that we utilize in class to build joy and success in our room.
Daniel Utset-Guerrero
Holmes Elementary School
Miami, FL


About this strategy

Prep Time:
Fifth grade
Similar Strategies
Collaborative Student Groups
Friday Review

Friday Review is a one-day activity designed to address specific needs and growth areas for each student. Using very recent data (from Exit Tickets or formative assessments), I identify specific skills that each student needs reinforcement with. Throughout class, students rotate through either small group lessons with me or individualized activities at their tables. When students work with me, they work on remedial practice to make sure they fill in any gaps in their understanding. While working independently, students work on various activities, including targeted online practice, practice worksheets, and hands-on activities, all selected and designed based on assessment data. Though my students work with their peers at times, they rotate through activities based on their individualized schedules, working towards their personal goals. At the end of the block, all of my students take an Exit Ticket (please see the "Daily Exit Tickets" strategy video) to measure their mastery. This allows me to track their growth and to plan how to support students who need additional practice.

Instructional Planning
Basketball Problem

The basketball problem is a built in way to teach the students about rigor. At the beginning of the year, we discussed how math is like an onion.  There are many layers and each one is more complex than the last. The "shot" is an opportunity to reward risk-taking and get the students really thinking about the most high-complexity questions that I can ask. For this reason, students are doubly invested in this part of class. One because they want to challenge themselves, and two because they want to get up there and take the shot. 

Assessment & Data
Daily Exit Tickets

I use Daily Exit Tickets to assess mastery of the day's objectives and to make sure students have a clear understanding of how they're doing. Students answer a few targeted questions on a Daily Exit Ticket, and the following day we review mastery shown by each student and celebrate their achievement (please see the "Data Review" strategy video). I read out each student's name who achieved mastery, and we quickly celebrate to recognize their hard work. For the students who have not reached mastery yet, this motivates them to keep striving to get that checkmark on the board. Rather than just using outdated student data from summative assessments, Daily Exit Tickets give me and my students a quick read on how they're growing throughout the week. Though these mini-assessments do not connect to my grading system, they allow me to track my students' daily progress throughout each week.

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