Mild, Medium & Spicy Groups
I group my students into three proficiency groups - Mild, Medium, and Spicy. This is a system of general differentiation that allows me to easily assign practice or even homework. Students know their level and know that the assigned practice is likely best for them. Their level is also assigned to them based on various factors, including benchmark assessments, formative assessments, and informal observations made in class on a daily basis. I encourage my students to challenge themselves to try a "spicier" level when they're ready. This gives students the flexibility to try harder material and excel at an appropriate and personalized pace.
At any given time at my class, student grouping is fluid and ever-changing. A brief whole group lesson focuses on collaborative lessons and reviewing concepts. Students self-assess to determine how they will practice new skills, and what level of support they need. I also employ a model of individualized learning paths that I named Workshop, where students choose the way in which they will learn. Students who need help are grouped for that day in Tutoring, while others have their pick over a variety of websites such as IXL, FrontRow, and TenMarks, online re-assessments, collaborative activities, projects, and more. Student reflection is essential to making that much choice, work.
Number of Students: 26 students
Number of Adults: one teacher
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 90minutes (Math Block)
Digital Content/ Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: i-Ready; IXL; MangaHigh; Website; FrontRow; Kahoot!; BrainGenie; Poll Everywhere; TenMarks; Google Apps for Education
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: five iPads; five desktop computers; five laptop computers; two Galaxy Tabs; SMARTBoard
Key Features: competency-based; student agency;individualized learning paths; online homework; gamification
Stamina captains track stamina among students at their table throughout independent work. Especially while working on differentiated or individualized practice, students may feel "alone" in their work and thus easily get distracted (whereas they might feel more pressure if all students are working on the same exact practice). Thus, through emphasizing the skill of stamina, students constantly think about their level of focus and ability to avoid distractions. When students begin discussing something that is off-topic, the stamina captain will write down their name on a post-it. After that, those students get a chance to "fix" their behavior by getting back on task. If their stamina is not fixed, they then get a phone call home as a consequence for their lack of focus. Through this closed loop, parents and students understand their focus and work at school.
My students work independently and in groups using different learning modalities in my blended learning classroom every day. I have developed mechanisms that allow me to get the attention of the entire class when I need to make important announcements, clarify widespread misconceptions, or re-focus the class. Yo, Yo Class! is a call-and-response mechanism that allows me to get the attention of the class quickly. This strategy also taps into youth culture in order to instill a sense of ownership of the class among my students.