Council for Character Development
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.
Within my blended learning classroom, students transition between computers and their desks or the carpet at least twice during every class period. To ensure that we don't lose valuable time during these transitions, I have implemented a structured process to support my students in moving from one station to another. When it's time for transition, I call out the name of a station, and the students in the appropriate group call out their group's name, indicating to me that they know where they are going. As students rotate onto the computers, they know that they should walk counter-clockwise, starting from the scratch paper area to their work areas.
Explicitly stating the Goal of the Day is a deliberate strategy I employ at the beginning of my lessons to ensure that my students understand the purpose (both short- and long-term) of the work we will be doing together. Reviewing the Goal of the Day clarifies for my students the larger meaning behind the smaller and more discrete pieces of learning they do every day. It also helps us all remain focused on my students' larger dreams and aspirations.
At the conclusion of our team sessions my students self-assess, give feedback/compliments to one another, and agree or share out their disagreements with one another. Our two areas of focus right now are collaboration and accountability. My students score themselves on a scale from 1-4 on these habits and then track their progress daily/weekly in order to consider their next steps or provide feedback to one another. Perhaps most importantly, the sentence stems within the rubric help my students develop a repertoire of conversational skills they will need in the 21st century and beyond.