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.
Since my students use several different online platforms to personalize their learning, it is crucial that my students review outcomes and trends in their technology usage. Once a week, the class meets to celebrate achievements by "shouting out" students with high performance and also hold students accountable by "calling out" students who have not spent enough time doing problems correctly. Topics that show lower levels of mastery are reviewed and explained, and upcoming assignments are previewed. This is also the time when I respond to the questions my students have asked via the platforms' messaging systems.
Storybird is an amazing, free, online software that allows students to create their own stories using real artist's works and collaborate and share among their class. In math, it is always essential to get students to appreciate the real world contexts in which their work is derived. Storybird allows students to incorporate literacy and their own interests into the math that we are working on. It also allows for feedback from the teacher to make sure that the math value that students are getting out of their stories is pure and real. Students must work within a rubric to develop a starting number sentence or operation into a real context. The deep discussions around verbs and operations that occurs is invaluable for a synthesis of the math concepts. Oh, and it is reallly fun to read each others!
Carpet Transitions is a process where students walk from their desks to the carpet (or another location) for the next activity. Expectations and directions are explicitly laid out, and we evaluate how our transitions go. As we perform these transitions more and more, we emphasize our efficiency and use of our time. Through this process, we make the most of our learning time and ensure students transition safely.