Positioning is a strategy I use, especially at the beginning of the school year, to ensure that my students know where they should go, what they will do at each station, and how much time they will spend at each station. Positioning occurs after I welcome the class (please see the "Opening Bell" strategy video) and before they begin rotating. I typically project the group assignment page from our class website onto the smart board and do a few quick checks for understanding before I let students go to their stations.
When I am the teacher-artist, I consider the personalities and work ethic of students. If there are chatty students or students who are going to end up in a conflict, I cannot put them in the same group because of the nature of not being able to facilitate all of the students at once. In this instance, it is more important to create groupings that promote a harmonious learning environment. There are times when I form groups based on pre assessment or skill deficits. When the instructional focus is writing or the writing process, I found that grouping students with the same instructional need for that particular set of writing prompts has produced the most gains. These homogeneous groups allow students to practice a skill with their peers and for the small group instruction to be more targeted and specific to the needs of the learners. There may be a group of students who are struggling with the thesis statement for a particular prompt or may have difficultly connecting the content to writing process. These students would be placed in the same group.
At the beginning of each Independent Learning Zone class session, I do a quick review of Independent Learning Zone Expectations. This strategy encourages the whole class to come together as a community with common expectations in mind before students begin working independently for the remainder of the class.
A blended teacher’s personal mindsets shape his decisions as an educator. These mindsets influence general pedagogies, instructional approaches, and short-term decision making, alike. Check out how Aaron’s mindsets have helped to shape his blended instruction.