Writer's Workshop Conference
One of the most powerful benefits of my school's blended learning model is the amount of time it creates for me to work individually with my students on their literacy development. One strategy I use often is a Writer's Workshop Conference, which consists of my having a targeted conversation with each student during which I am able to give feedback about his or her writing. I work hard at the beginning of the year to establish a classroom culture in which all students, regardless of the activity they are involved with at any given moment, understand how important it is that I be able to provide focused, uninterrupted support to each of them. This makes it possible for me to focus on one student's writing for three to five minutes every day while other students are working individually or in small groups.
Computer Captains for Transitions is a routine I have developed that allows my students to take on an important peer leadership role that, at the same time, helps minimize the amount of time that my students spend in transition from working independently on a computer to joining their group on the rug for direct instruction or vice versa. Using the Computer Captains for Transitions strategy, which involves designated students alerting their peers to the timing of routinized whole-class transitions, allows my students to develop more ownership over their own learning and the culture of the class. Used in combination with timing transitions and re-doing unsuccessful transitions, this strategy has helped me re-capture critical learning time in my blended learning classroom.
Explicitly stating the Goal of the Day is a deliberate strategy I employ at the beginning of my lessons to ensure that my students understand the purpose (both short- and long-term) of the work we will be doing together. Reviewing the Goal of the Day clarifies for my students the larger meaning behind the smaller and more discrete pieces of learning they do every day. It also helps us all remain focused on my students' larger dreams and aspirations.
As a blended school, sometimes there is an overwhelming amount of data. Knowing how to use it and when is critical in making sure that the data is both purposeful and useful. Included is both offline (DRA, RAZ, and Interim Benchmark assessments) and online (iReady) assessments to inform instruction and make groups (guided reading, computer groups, and skills-based groups).