By its very nature, learning in a self-paced classroom with digital resources can be an isolating experience for some students. While I want my students to take personal responsibility for and ownership of their learning, I also want them to learn essential collaboration skills and to leverage social learning to grow as people and as students of Mathematics. Buddy Time is a grouping strategy that requires my students to collaborate with peers working on the same lesson at a prescribed point in each lesson. During Buddy Time, students can collaborate or discuss their work with other students at their tables and they can use their collective knowledge and skills to help each other move towards mastery.
As a blended learning practitioner, I have learned that it's critically important to develop a classroom culture infused with respect and a collaborative spirit. Cultivating and nurturing this culture is especially important in my classroom where so much of the learning is self-paced and the content is largely accessed digitally. The Meet and Greet is a strategy I use to start each day in order to model positive student-teacher interaction, to assess individual student's state of mind quickly, and to motivate my students to engage with the content right away. Our weekly Class Meeting is another strategy that promotes a positive and collaborative classroom culture. In first part of each Class Meeting, my students are nominated for "shout-outs" by their classmates for specific effort and achievement they have demonstrated in the previous week. In the second part of the Class Meeting (please see the "Class Forum" strategy video), my students identify ways in which the class can improve and they suggest potential solutions to difficulties they are experiencing. The Meet and Greet and the Class Meeting are strategies that allow me to express my respect for my students and their experience of learning. Implementing these strategies has resulted in higher degrees of student ownership, responsibility, and engagement.
I use a Flipped Mastery model of instruction. In this model, students watch videos of lessons that I have recorded and posted on the class website, answer a set of practice problems to hone their skills, and take a Mastery Quiz when they feel ready to show they have mastered the material. I provide 1:1 coaching and support throughout the process. If students pass a quiz, they move onto the next lesson. If they fail, they are required to do another practice assignment before re-trying the quiz. There is no failing in my class. Either you know something or you’re still learning how to do that thing, but there’s no in-between.
Number of Students: ~22-28 students
Number of Adults: two teachers (co-teaching model)
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 110 minutes
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: IXL; SMART Notebook; Screencast-O-Matic; Weebly; PowerSchool; Kahoot!; Google Forms
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: SMARTboard; Wacom Tablet; Amplify Teacher Tablet (for teacher); Mac PowerBook (for teacher)
Key Features: flipped-mastery; competency-based; student agency; co-teaching
To give students greater independence, there is an answer key for the practice problems of every lesson. I know what a lot of teachers are thinking at this point: what if the student just copy all their answers from the answer key? As an Algebra teacher told me when I asked them the same question before starting flipped mastery, they'll just fail the mastery quiz. It only takes a few correctional assignments for them to realize that the answer key is there to check answers, not copy them.