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.
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Stephen communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.
Poll Everywhere is a reflective tool that we use in my classroom to get insight into each other's thoughts, opinions, and answers. Essentially, students on any technology can open a specific or the permant poll question and respond throughout the day. Sometimes, we even do a wordle reflection to get a "pulse check" of how students feel about the content. The students often use Poll Everywhere during Marzano's practice or Workshop to leave advice or share a success or failure with their students. The thinking here is it is important for students to feel like they have an avenue to reflect, and that what they want to say can be useful for others. It helps us to foster a sense of true collaboration and community.
Fluency is important, and finding the time to practice it in class can be tough. Fortunately, my students and I came up with Face Off, a simple, gamefied way to practice multiples and other fluency. 3 students must participate, where two students meet eyes and count off multiples until one makes a mistake. The third person moderates with an answer sheet. This can be modified to practice multiplication facts, division, or fraction operations. I create official FaceOff times where we actually play a "season" and work through a tournament style competition, with students advancing as they defeat their peers. This investment is great, but the fact that it runs itself is even better for me! Students often can be seen Face-ing Off in line in the Cafeteria, on the way to Specials, or in the neighborhood.