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.
Dojo Dollars is the name given to the online class economy powered by ClassDojo. ClassDojo.com is a free, online management system where students can recieve points or deductions for classroom actions. Students' Class Dojo points become Dojo Dollars they can spend for supplies, class time and special activities in this great example of a classroom economy. I have fused this with my Pillars of Power as well as class expectations like move with speed and the use of Synergy in collaboration. As students earn points, they transfer to Dojo Dollars on Friday. They can spend their money at the store to buy nerdy things, or buy class time to do other activities that they are interested in. The system allows me to have an accurate picture of class behavior, while making it easy to focus on the positive behaviors I see. The easy parent communication and messaging features also allow for quick, seamless communication.
Data Review is a strategy I use to keep my students motivated to master our Math skills. Every day before class, I place a check mark by the names of students who have mastered a skill according to the previous day's Exit Ticket (please see the "Daily Exit Tickets" strategy video). During class I call out the names of students who have made progress towards mastery (only focusing on positive feedback), and we publicly celebrate those students who have reached mastery on skills that we're focusing on in that particular week. This quick cheer gives students a sense of gratification and success for their previous day's work. As for my students who haven't yet reached mastery, they hear about their peers' successes and consequently feel motivated to work harder to get a check mark for the following day. Because of the power of this quick public feedback, my students are invested in the work that they do throughout the day and the Exit Ticket they take at the end of each class. Data Review helps them see the connections between their daily effort and progress and the achievement of their overall goals.
Planning is an essential part of a blended teacher’s practice. In blended environments, where students can be at different points in a course on various modalities, blended teachers need to be very intentional about how they plan. Check out the video below to see how Stephen plans for instruction in his blended classroom.