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.
Dojo Dollars is the name given to the online class economy powered by ClassDojo. ClassDojo.com is a free, online management system where students can recieve points or deductions for classroom actions. Students' Class Dojo points become Dojo Dollars they can spend for supplies, class time and special activities in this great example of a classroom economy. I have fused this with my Pillars of Power as well as class expectations like move with speed and the use of Synergy in collaboration. As students earn points, they transfer to Dojo Dollars on Friday. They can spend their money at the store to buy nerdy things, or buy class time to do other activities that they are interested in. The system allows me to have an accurate picture of class behavior, while making it easy to focus on the positive behaviors I see. The easy parent communication and messaging features also allow for quick, seamless communication.
This is where the magic happens. Using my formative assessment data, as well as online content data, I pull students from Workshop to Tutoring each day. This targeted lesson allows me to reinforce ideas, and fix misconceptions as well as give an opportunity for students to feel like they are getting from me what they need. Branding is important to me, and Tutoring seemed like an ideal way to frame the station for the students. In reality, that is exactly what it has become, with students asking questions and embracing their past mistakes as opportunities for growth.
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.