Thumbs Up, I Get This!
I make sure that my students have heard the directions I've given using this simple but effective check for understanding strategy. Having students repeat directions or an expectation provides them with an opportunity to re-state or clarify their understanding. For example, if a student responds incorrectly, I don't just move on to another student all the time. I ask the same question in a different way so that my student who initially responded incorrectly, unclearly, or incompletely has another opportunity to answer with more clarity. Thumbs Up, I Get This! is another way to hold students accountable during their independent time.
In Teacher Vs. Students, students compete against the teacher in a quick game of listening and participation. Typically we play this game after a general phonics rule has been taught and students have to practice hearing it for phonological practice. Rather than me just reading a word asking them to identify the sound, I am using the taught rule(s) and turning into a game of friendly competition to show that they are smarter than the teacher. It's important though, to be honest. If I win, I explain what they should practice more of and then try it again another day.
My class is divided into two heterogeneous groups. Each group spends half its time working with me and the other half working independently on computers. Get Set is the strategy I use to prepare my students for the activity they will be starting. I may also give some additional directions during this time that reinforce behavioral or academic expectations. During this strategy, students who are going to the computers go to a shelf that contains their headphones and then proceed to line up near the computers. When I see that most students are set to begin, I tell them to proceed and to log in.
Our Two Cents is a strategy to increase student discourse and have students respond to questions with more justification, reasoning, and elaboration. Giving their "two cents" refers to them giving more than a one-word response or more than one example. Adding Two Cents to a basket serves as an incentive to my students to elaborate on their responses without much prompting from me. The incentive for students can be determined by the teacher or by the members of the class so that they are motivated to push themselves rather than the teacher always pushing students.