Academic Culture

Brain Power

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.

Strategy Resources (2)
Students In Action
Strategy Explanation
This is a list of some other movements that we utilize in class to build joy and success in our room.
Students In Action
Strategy Explanation
This is a list of some other movements that we utilize in class to build joy and success in our room.
Daniel Utset-Guerrero
Holmes Elementary School
Miami, FL


About this strategy

Prep Time:
Fifth grade
Similar Strategies
Instructional Planning
Weekly Online Homework

Weekly Online Homework is a strategy aimed at building up the expectations in class by infusing them into my students' home lives. On Monday, my students are assigned homework that is due on Friday of that week. I use the class website to drive this communication with my students and their parents. The homework that is assigned is differentiated because the assignments are from adaptive online content providers. In addition, my students learn to be responsible for themselves, leading to huge growth in their self-advocacy and learning. On Friday, rewards and consequences are tied to the Dojo Dollars class economy. Because of the online nature of the homework, it can be instantly graded.  

Feedback Systems
Class Ratings

At the end of the day, there have been ups and downs, but the focus should be on improvement. The Class Ratings are when the students rate the class on each of our 5 character and mindset pillars. While I have input, I encourage the students to be honest with themselves and take responsibility if they showed or lacked the pillars at any point. Reflecting on the day's specific moments helps to create a classroom of trust, and a culture of accountability. It is also essential to developing a shared character language that can be refered to throughout the day.

Routines and Procedures
Rotation Expectations

Before my students begin our system of rotations at the beginning of the year, I take time to make it very clear where they will go, what they will do, and what materials they will need. I also make sure to do frequent checks for understanding. Dedicating extra time to review Rotation Expectations at the beginning of the year helps to ensure that rotations will run smoothly throughout the year. Class tutors are also selected for each rotation. They walk around to support their peers who need help and even help to manage class behavior. Class tutors are given an iPad with access to our ClassDojo site, where they award "positive points" to students following expectations and "needs improvement points" to those who are not following expectations. Through explaining my expectations and leveraging the class tutor to reinforce these expectations, I ensure that my students are giving their best efforts during our rotations.

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