Observation charts are a type of inquiry chart that stimulate students’ curiosity. They build background information while providing teachers with a diagnostic tool. And they provide opportunities for language support from peers. During an observation chart, I use real pictures or paintings attached to white poster paper or butcher paper that contain a theme (e.g., food from a culture, ways of transportation, games a culture plays, etc.). My students walk around from observation chart to observation chart and write down either a question they're wondering about, a comment they'd like to make, or just an observation (i.e., statement of fact).
In my class, students are allowed to offer peer support on the computers. My students identify what is a problem or a need they have and it is my job to identify who might be their support. This has helped my students offer guidance and help in a structured way. Peer support on the computers has helped with increasing academic discourse and social interactions as well as give a structured place for students to provide assistance to each other. Cooperative learning and reciprocal teaching are benefits to this strategy as well.
When a student is working on the computers, they may ask a peer for help if they haven't successfully figured out how to solve a problem. I emphasize trying something first on your paper to explain what you have tried to your buddy, and ask for ideas they may have. Given the adaptive nature of our BL software, many students are encountering difficult content. I want my students to teach each other how to overcome challenges and persevere. This helps to create a sense of unity along with our motivational BL wall.
Computer Captains for Transitions is a routine I have developed that allows my students to take on an important peer leadership role that, at the same time, helps minimize the amount of time that my students spend in transition from working independently on a computer to joining their group on the rug for direct instruction or vice versa. Using the Computer Captains for Transitions strategy, which involves designated students alerting their peers to the timing of routinized whole-class transitions, allows my students to develop more ownership over their own learning and the culture of the class. Used in combination with timing transitions and re-doing unsuccessful transitions, this strategy has helped me re-capture critical learning time in my blended learning classroom.