Mark's Approach to Planning
Planning is an essential part of a blended teacher’s practice. In blended environments, where students can be at different points in a course on various modalities, blended teachers need to be very intentional about how they plan. Check out the video below to see how Mark plans for instruction in his blended classroom.
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.
I use "call and response" strategies for a variety of purposes in my blended classroom, most of which involve getting my students' attention and reinforcing core concepts of the day's lesson or our school's mission. I use the Focusing Call and Response strategy, which consists of using more than one call and response chant, whenever I need to signal a major change in the mode of instruction or any other time I need to get my students' attention quickly and respectfully. The strategy engages my students and helps them work together to achieve 100% compliance with any instructions I may give. This strategy is especially important because there are so many transitions in my school's blended learning model.
This strategy helps to lighten the mood and get everyone moving. Students in a blended learning class at the elementary level need time to take a break from blended learning at various moments and engage with each other.This strategy facilitates the opportunity to lower the affective filter and have students engage in academic and non-academic conversations. We review the expectations for the transition and what their next steps are when they find a partner. Students spontaneously select a partner, put their hands up together in the air, and keep them there once everyone has a partner. we then decide by height and shirt color who will share first. Any students remaining are paired up accordingly. The song playing serves as a signal about when to go and when to stop moving.