Candy Land Path
The Candy Land Path is a Candy Land-style trail that runs across several walls in my classroom. Each tile on the trail represents a lesson my students have to master in order to advance in the course. This strategy allows my students' progress to be seen and followed on a day-to-day basis, ultimately giving transparency to the learning process. This is a powerful visual tool for every student - especially for over- and under-achievers - and allows me to reframe school as a learning journey and progression as opposed to just working for a grade. The Path also brings an element of fun to the classroom while preserving its motivational purpose.
In the traditional classroom, time is constant and understanding is variable from student to student. The Flipped Mastery model inverts the traditional relationship between time and understanding, letting understanding be the constant and time be variable. All of my students are held to the same high standards, but they master standards at a pace they feel comfortable with and are ready for. Initially, many of my students are confused about what a self-paced mastery-based class is all about, so my co-teacher and I find it helpful to introduce the concept to our students in a very strategic and explicit way at the beginning of each school year.
The Class Forum is a 2-5 minute portion of the Class Meeting (please see the "Meet and Greet/Class Meeting" strategy video) at the beginning of each week in which my students propose solutions to learning barriers that they have experienced or may see arising in class. This strategy ensures that my students' voices will be heard and empowers them to be change agents in shaping the class environment. While it is important to offer other avenues for individualized contact between myself and my students, having a space for a public discussion emphasizes the collaborative atmosphere that I want my students to work in every day. As a blended learning teacher, my practice is evolving from day to day and week to week. The Class Forum creates a safe and regular channel for my students to give me feedback about their needs and experiences. My commitment and responsiveness to my students' suggestions motivates them to be more invested in their learning and to our classroom community, which is critical to their success in my self-paced blended learning model.
By allowing my students to assess other students' work and then providing them with a Student Lab Development Rubric to evaluate their own work, they learn to design and refine high-quality experimental procedures. The Student Lab Development Rubric is one of the tools I use to help students build the experiments they've created and then display results and lab analyses. When students are the ones dictating how they will conduct their experiments, they invest more fully in the activity and come to realize that science involves constant critical analysis and reiteration. I like to move conversations away from "right" and "wrong" and more towards how we can improve each component of our lab activities. Initially, some students feel uncomfortable identifying that their work isn't up to the high standards of the rubric, but over time most come to realize that this process helps them improve their final products and understand the underlying purpose behind labs.