Academic Culture


Fluency is important, and finding the time to practice it in class can be tough. Fortunately, my students and I came up with Face Off, a simple, gamefied way to practice multiples and other fluency. 3 students must participate, where two students meet eyes and count off multiples until one makes a mistake. The third person moderates with an answer sheet. This can be modified to practice multiplication facts, division, or fraction operations. I create official FaceOff times where we actually play a "season" and work through a tournament style competition, with students advancing as they defeat their peers. This investment is great, but the fact that it runs itself is even better for me! Students often can be seen Face-ing Off in line in the Cafeteria, on the way to Specials, or in the neighborhood.

Strategy Resources (2)
Students In Action
Teacher Reflection
Students In Action
Teacher Reflection
Daniel Utset-Guerrero
Holmes Elementary School
Miami, FL


About this strategy

Prep Time:
Fifth grade
Similar Strategies
Blended Learning Model Overviews
Stephen's Model Overview

In my school, students use a lab rotation system where they go to a computer lab for set amounts of time to work on online content through sites such as Lexia and ST Math.  In my own class, I also use a station rotation system, where groups of students spend time learning in different ways.  Online sites like Khan Academy and FrontRow help to differentiate the content, collaborative skills make learning social, and teacher interventions help me to address misconceptions. My students gain valuable digital and character skills while they manage their own learning.  My model has fostered perseverance and independence among my students that I know will help them to be successful in their lives.

Number of Students: 17 students per class

Number of Adults: one teacher; one paraprofessional (20 minutes per period)

Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 90 minutes with teacher; 90 minutes in Learning Lab

Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: Khan Academy; Google Classroom; Google Forms; Front Row; ST Math (in Learning Lab); DreamBox (in Learning Lab)

Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: Chromebooks (1:1 ratio); SMARTboard

Key Features: station rotation; lab rotation; student agency;individualized learning paths

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.

Whole-Group Instruction
Vocab Blitz

The Vocab Blitz is a visual strategy used to teach concepts through the use of math vocabulary. Students answer deep questions about the relationship between words and math and earn tickets. They place these in the Raffle Jar, which we pick from on Fridays for a small prize. Math vocabulary just for the sake of knowing academic language is good, but the Vocab Blitz explicitly asks students to apply the terms, which allows me to build more rigorous questions and connect ideas (i.e. how volume connects to science). For example, by knowing what the dividend actually is, we have a shared language that we can use when trying to figure out if a problem is asking us to multiply or divide, and to connect to improper fractions' numerator when converting them.

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