Computer Captains for Transitions
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.
Many teachers--myself included--utilize a version of the Think Pair Share strategy to give students opportunities for social learning and to build a culture of classroom community that includes respectful academic discourse. I use the Main Idea Think Pair Share strategy to ensure that my students are able to identify and articulate the main ideas of texts we are reading, which is one of the most foundational literacy skills that all effective readers must develop. I find that it can be helpful to use scaffolds like sentence stems and a variety of starting approaches (e.g., "the student with the longest hair speaks first") to ensure that this strategy remains fresh and accessible to my students, many of whom are English Language Learners.
Every Friday we meet to discuss a topic around character development and 21st century skills. This is a vital classroom practice in my class. Because blended learning is so high paced and intense, students need support as not only learners but people as well. Students transition from their seats to prepare to watch videos or form a circle around the perimeter of our carpet. Our council pieces are brought out. Council pieces are small items that both the students and I have brought which hold major meaning to us. Once we meet, the only person who can speak is the one holding the council piece. We begin by making a dedication to someone in our life or someone we have beeng thinking about. At the end of the dedications, we begin our council. The talking piece is passed around and all students share their thoughts or may pass. Sometimes we will bring an on-demand journal to share, or students may respond to a posed question.
Students self-monitor their understanding by using the Fluid Mastery Rubric. They monitor their level of understanding of the lesson on a scale of 1 to 4 (1 being least mastered to 4 being most). Because my students are given the opportunity to reflect and self-monitor their level of understanding of the lesson, I get real-time data on which students need targeted interventions and supports.