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.
The Vocab Blitz is a visual strategy used to teach concepts through the use of math vocabulary. Students answer deep questions about the relationship between words and math and earn tickets. They place these in the Raffle Jar, which we pick from on Fridays for a small prize. Math vocabulary just for the sake of knowing academic language is good, but the Vocab Blitz explicitly asks students to apply the terms, which allows me to build more rigorous questions and connect ideas (i.e. how volume connects to science). For example, by knowing what the dividend actually is, we have a shared language that we can use when trying to figure out if a problem is asking us to multiply or divide, and to connect to improper fractions' numerator when converting them.
I use the Turn and Talk strategy to get my students to discuss mathematical concepts. Given the shift to using technology (both in and out of the classroom), my students are becoming more and more used to sitting behind a screen and only interacting with the virtual world. I utilize Turn and Talks during lessons to build conversational and interpersonal skills. These quick conversations help students explain their thoughts and practice their articulation skills.
Data Review is a strategy I use to keep my students motivated to master our Math skills. Every day before class, I place a check mark by the names of students who have mastered a skill according to the previous day's Exit Ticket (please see the "Daily Exit Tickets" strategy video). During class I call out the names of students who have made progress towards mastery (only focusing on positive feedback), and we publicly celebrate those students who have reached mastery on skills that we're focusing on in that particular week. This quick cheer gives students a sense of gratification and success for their previous day's work. As for my students who haven't yet reached mastery, they hear about their peers' successes and consequently feel motivated to work harder to get a check mark for the following day. Because of the power of this quick public feedback, my students are invested in the work that they do throughout the day and the Exit Ticket they take at the end of each class. Data Review helps them see the connections between their daily effort and progress and the achievement of their overall goals.