The Socratic Seminar is completely student-run in my class, and I alternate between the inner/outer circle format and a single-circle format. As the teacher, I play the role of videographer and when there is only one circle, I publicly track the quality of student comments on the white board throughout the conversation. This is an effective way to let students know when their thinking is becoming more and more insightful. I use the colors green, orange, and red to color code the tally marks I make on the board. Green means that the student offered a comment that made sense and was explained well. Orange signifies that the students cited evidence with their comment, which is the goal for everyone to reach at least once in the seminar. Lastly, a red tally mark next to a student's name means that the student not only used evidence when they commented but also offered a keen insight using that text evidence. This kind of in-the-moment tracking encourages the students to really think about how to share thoughts in the Seminar that will allow their peers to dig deep into the text and create meaning. They strive for the red tally because it means their brain and their contributions to the Seminar are "on fire".
Sometimes the only thing holding students back is practice time. It's amazing how much they can get done when they get themselves into a work frenzy. During Rapid Fire, we create a "controlled crazy" by playing techno music while students work in pairs to solve as many computation problems as possible in five minutes. This is a great strategy to use before taking the lesson to word problems, and provides a break from sitting quietly and attentively during the lesson. There is also always an element of choice in what the students want to focus on, helping them to adjust their self-evaluation for later on.
During Live Investigation and Task sessions (both teacher-led), I often use a whole group discussion format just like a traditional classroom. Blended or not, there is no substitute for discussion.
The Learning Journey Review is taking an essential question or a big idea from a content unit and making it visual for the students, usually in a chart or poster. The chart, illustrating a timeline or taxonomy chart, is created at the beginning of an ELA unit and is constantly referred to at the beginning of each week and at the end of the week, thereby helping to connect the week's lessons together.
The decoding boards, which are your basic dry erase boards, help students visually see what their brains do as they read which is looking for blends, digraphs, long/short vowels etc. Rather than simply reading off the board, I have students write the words we practice in phonics and write the diacritical marks that support and show them how to decode words along the way that then support their reading.
This strategy is a biweekly problem solving investigation on recently learned content. Typically students will be given sample scanned answers that I have hand selected. These problems have been previously solved. Students meet on the carpet for the mystery problem reveal. We also cover what the goal of our session will be using a checklist/success rubric. They are then dismissed to investigate in teams. The students select manipulatives to discuss, develop an agreed upon idea, and critique which student(s) response they agree with/why. If a team finishes early they can work on they "Step ahead" which is harder differentiated task. Finally they use the checklist to self reflect if they were successful during the mystery problem session.
Once a day twice during a two-week unit, students will come back from their individualized assignments and group as cohort. This gives them opportunity to take their assessments as a class as well participate in full class discussions, mentoring, study sessions, and peer to peer advisory.
Whole Group Exploration is a form of whole group instruction where we work with conceptual models to understand the algorithm behind solving math problems. Students work with whiteboards at the carpet as we discuss and work through a series of problems that build and understanding of our skill. As students successfully prove that they are ready to work independently, I dismiss them to their seat with our practice, keeping the students who need additional support to go through more practice problems. This strategy allows me to give more support to students who need it and release students who are ready to excel.
When facilitating class discussions, teachers often face the challenge of trying to make the conversation equitable and impactful for every student in the room. Digital discussions via Backchannel apps (Today's Meet, Poll Everywhere, Socrative...) can give everyone a voice already, but they can be challenging to manage as a chronological thread.
Facilitating a discussion via VersoApp enables teachers to see all the answers submitted by students as posts on a structured dashboard. This way they can respond to specific posts and so can each student in the classroom. Furthermore, on the student facing dashboard, the names of the students are not displayed, creating the conditions for the conversation to truly focus on each others' ideas and they enrich the class' perspective on an issue.
Many teachers--myself included--utilize a version of the Think Pair Share strategy to give students opportunities for social learning and to build a culture of classroom community that includes respectful academic discourse. I use the Main Idea Think Pair Share strategy to ensure that my students are able to identify and articulate the main ideas of texts we are reading, which is one of the most foundational literacy skills that all effective readers must develop. I find that it can be helpful to use scaffolds like sentence stems and a variety of starting approaches (e.g., "the student with the longest hair speaks first") to ensure that this strategy remains fresh and accessible to my students, many of whom are English Language Learners.
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.