The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.
At any given time at my class, student grouping is fluid and ever-changing. A brief whole group lesson focuses on collaborative lessons and reviewing concepts. Students self-assess to determine how they will practice new skills, and what level of support they need. I also employ a model of individualized learning paths that I named Workshop, where students choose the way in which they will learn. Students who need help are grouped for that day in Tutoring, while others have their pick over a variety of websites such as IXL, FrontRow, and TenMarks, online re-assessments, collaborative activities, projects, and more. Student reflection is essential to making that much choice, work.
Number of Students: 26 students
Number of Adults: one teacher
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 90minutes (Math Block)
Digital Content/ Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: i-Ready; IXL; MangaHigh; Website; FrontRow; Kahoot!; BrainGenie; Poll Everywhere; TenMarks; Google Apps for Education
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: five iPads; five desktop computers; five laptop computers; two Galaxy Tabs; SMARTBoard
Key Features: competency-based; student agency;individualized learning paths; online homework; gamification
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.
This is where the magic happens. Using my formative assessment data, as well as online content data, I pull students from Workshop to Tutoring each day. This targeted lesson allows me to reinforce ideas, and fix misconceptions as well as give an opportunity for students to feel like they are getting from me what they need. Branding is important to me, and Tutoring seemed like an ideal way to frame the station for the students. In reality, that is exactly what it has become, with students asking questions and embracing their past mistakes as opportunities for growth.