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.
I use "call and response" strategies for a variety of purposes in my blended classroom, most of which involve getting my students' attention and reinforcing core concepts of the day's lesson or our school's mission. I use the Focusing Call and Response strategy, which consists of using more than one call and response chant, whenever I need to signal a major change in the mode of instruction or any other time I need to get my students' attention quickly and respectfully. The strategy engages my students and helps them work together to achieve 100% compliance with any instructions I may give. This strategy is especially important because there are so many transitions in my school's blended learning model.
One way we bring authenticity to our lessons is by making explicit connections or real world hooks to what we're learning. What I particularly enjoyed about our persuasive writing unit is that we were able to identify real problems in our own school community and to think of solutions. It then brought about real change in our school, and in this case brought about getting more magazines into the classroom which was an identified need of our class.
Planning is an essential part of a blended teacher’s practice. In blended environments, where students can be at different points in a course on various modalities, blended teachers need to be very intentional about how they plan. Check out the video below to see how Mark plans for instruction in his blended classroom.