During an Independent Learning Zone session, every student in my blended classroom is working independently on a different set of problems. It's impossible for me to be an answer key for 25 different students doing 25 different problem sets, so I print out their respective answer keys in advance and give each student his or her about 5-10 minutes into the period. This empowers them to monitor their own academic performance and self-correct as they are completing their assigned task.
TOAST is an acronym that stands for "Time Owed After School Today." It's a very simple and non-punitive consequence that we implement for students who don't follow the rules: 1) Respect all people, property, and ideas; 2) Follow directions the first time; 3) Be prepared. I make it very clear at the beginning of the year that TOAST does not mean I'm mad at you or that you're a bad person; however, there are consequences for your actions that are not consistent with our community expectations. Paying with time and doing some community service or making a plan to change student actions have been effective ways to turn negative student behavior into a positive.
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
My students crave independence, but they are sometimes unable to prioritize, monitor, and regulate their progress. My students are also often unable at the beginning of a school year to articulate how or where to start an assignment. This strategy is designed to give my students a model of how to manage their own workflow. Having a Workflow Guide is a good strategy to teach in Social Studies because it gives my students a step-by-step pathway to competency. This strategy is particularly well suited for middle grades because they need an increased sense of agency that allows them work independently as they prepare to transition to high school, college, and their careers.