My colleagues and I have students write a Synopsis of their learning after every Independent Learning Zone period as well as after Live Investigations. The Synopsis acts as a reflective tool for both large and small concepts. I often tell my students to write what they actually learned or improved upon, not what they THINK I want them to write. I train my students to make a space for the Synopsis in their notebook headings. Occasionally, I will have my students read their Synopses out loud, but most often I walk around and do a quick check, as they are mostly a personal reflection for my students.
In my blended and personalized classroom, I rely heavily on software and digital platforms to guide and supplement my instruction. At the same time, I believe that my students still need to practice traditional paper and pencil skills. Graphic organizers have long been used to help students organize content. In my classroom they are primarily used as a pre-writing tool. The mix of using the digital platforms and paper-pencil gives my students the opportunity to practice both skills simultaneously.
I implement a station rotation model in my classroom. On a typical day, following brief whole-class direct instruction, my students will rotate through three blended learning stations: small group instruction, collaborative learning, and independent work. At each station, students work either with a teacher, a group of their peers, or individually towards content mastery. The key levers of my model are student self-pacing and small-group instruction. Through a mix of student choice and teacher facilitation, I have been able to activate my students’ learning and accelerate them towards higher academic achievement.
Number of Students: ~25 students
Number of Adults: one teacher; one paraprofessional
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 45 minutes
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: Kahoot!; Plickers; PBWorks; Blackboard; Newsela; Edmodo; BrainPop & BrainPop Jr; Discovery Education Techbook; Padlet; Vimeo; Today’s Meet
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: 25 ASUS T100 laplets with charging cart (1:1); Promethean Board
Key Features: station rotation; student agency
At the beginning of each Independent Learning Zone class session, I do a quick review of Independent Learning Zone Expectations. This strategy encourages the whole class to come together as a community with common expectations in mind before students begin working independently for the remainder of the class.