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.
Camp Dollars is an incentive system created to motivate the class to work as a team towards certain goals. For example, this strategy allows the class to work towards "funding" our 2 big trips in the year - science camp and our end of the year sailing trip. Though my students are not earning actual dollars, they work together to meet our academic and cultural expectations in order to "fundraise" towards our end goal. Because the class earns Camp Dollars based on how we perform, the system allows for continuous reflection and feedback around our everyday activities.
Brain Power is a strategy my students and I use to promote a classroom culture of risk-taking, resilience, and collaboration. Early in the year, I teach my students to wiggle their fingers towards their peers who are thinking of an answer or trying to correct an incorrect response. This strategy creates wait time and encourages my students to continue their thinking process without giving up.
Yoda Master is a way for students to learn, practice, and assess a skill that they previously did not master. Students utilize the Workshop strategy in a variation: everyone is remediating a past skill. They first access their formative data trackers and choose a skill they did not master. Then they create a playlist using approved resources and incorporating their learning styles. The teacher will approve the playlist and students begin the process. They have to check back in with the teacher once they have gone through the Learn, Teach, Practice,and Retake steps. The teacher serves as a true facillitator in this strategy, and can still pull groups or do data chats. This is the ultimate level of student agency and self driven learning!