Bull Boards is an instructional strategy to practice a computational or fluency skill throughout the week. The skill should be scaffolded, with simple questions building towards more rigor. I found that a main objective of this should not be to get bogged down with long problems (i.e. long division) but rather to check a thought process. For example, asking what a decimal is when rounded to the tenths, or which place value would be a hundred times bigger. The same skills cycle back throughout the year as a way to keep content fresh and allow us to connect currculum quicker.
The basketball problem is a built in way to teach the students about rigor. At the beginning of the year, we discussed how math is like an onion. There are many layers and each one is more complex than the last. The "shot" is an opportunity to reward risk-taking and get the students really thinking about the most high-complexity questions that I can ask. For this reason, students are doubly invested in this part of class. One because they want to challenge themselves, and two because they want to get up there and take the shot.
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
The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.