In the Heads Together strategy, my students huddle in pre-determined teams at the beginning or end of a lesson to discuss a question, give each other advice, or decide on a response collaboratively. I use this quick strategy to give my students consistent opportunities to engage in productive group work throughout each class period.
I use weekly Data Chats with my students as a powerful way to motivate and encourage them. The strategy allows us to celebrate successes and identify challenges. When analyzing data from the blended programs, I work hard to identify what my students should know (i.e., what data to pull out and share with students) and to give my students the appropriate next steps for improving their scores. In each Data Chat, I try to gather student input on what's challenging them and to have my students articulate the strategies that work for them.
Color Teams are teams that students form themselves within the rotation groups that I have created. Students usually work in their Color Teams when we conduct a group task. When students are working in their teams, I encourage them to use academic discourse and math vocabulary words. Given that students spend a significant amount of time working independently on digital content in my blended classroom, Color Teams are an important structure to foster productive group work among my students.
Every Friday we meet to discuss a topic around character development and 21st century skills. This is a vital classroom practice in my class. Because blended learning is so high paced and intense, students need support as not only learners but people as well. Students transition from their seats to prepare to watch videos or form a circle around the perimeter of our carpet. Our council pieces are brought out. Council pieces are small items that both the students and I have brought which hold major meaning to us. Once we meet, the only person who can speak is the one holding the council piece. We begin by making a dedication to someone in our life or someone we have beeng thinking about. At the end of the dedications, we begin our council. The talking piece is passed around and all students share their thoughts or may pass. Sometimes we will bring an on-demand journal to share, or students may respond to a posed question.