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.
Stamina captains track stamina among students at their table throughout independent work. Especially while working on differentiated or individualized practice, students may feel "alone" in their work and thus easily get distracted (whereas they might feel more pressure if all students are working on the same exact practice). Thus, through emphasizing the skill of stamina, students constantly think about their level of focus and ability to avoid distractions. When students begin discussing something that is off-topic, the stamina captain will write down their name on a post-it. After that, those students get a chance to "fix" their behavior by getting back on task. If their stamina is not fixed, they then get a phone call home as a consequence for their lack of focus. Through this closed loop, parents and students understand their focus and work at school.
ClassDojo is a free behavior tracking system. I use it everyday to give students feedback on how they're meeting academic and behavioral expectations. As students are given postiive points or "needs work" points, a sound beeps and the entire class hears and sees that a student is being given feedback. Just as with behavior narration, students become more aware about their personal behaviors, following the expectations as they see them reiterated through behavior points. Their scores carry through with them to each class, culminating in a report at the end of the day that goes home to the students' parents. This allows parents to stay in the loop with how students are working and behaving at school.
My students work independently and in groups using different learning modalities in my blended learning classroom every day. I have developed mechanisms that allow me to get the attention of the entire class when I need to make important announcements, clarify widespread misconceptions, or re-focus the class. Yo, Yo Class! is a call-and-response mechanism that allows me to get the attention of the class quickly. This strategy also taps into youth culture in order to instill a sense of ownership of the class among my students.