Mild, Medium & Spicy Groups
I group my students into three proficiency groups - Mild, Medium, and Spicy. This is a system of general differentiation that allows me to easily assign practice or even homework. Students know their level and know that the assigned practice is likely best for them. Their level is also assigned to them based on various factors, including benchmark assessments, formative assessments, and informal observations made in class on a daily basis. I encourage my students to challenge themselves to try a "spicier" level when they're ready. This gives students the flexibility to try harder material and excel at an appropriate and personalized pace.
Plickers are an online check for understanding procedure where students can answer multiple choice questions. Students are each assigned a "plicker" or paper clicker that enables them to respond based on how they are holding it. The training for it's use is quick, and we can use a tablet to instantly record the results. The results can be uploaded and tracked for even more data! This ability to stop instruction to see how students are doing is essential to having a flexible and student-need based classroom. Plickers allows me to get real time data and make decisions that make me a better time manager and allows me to potentially see misconceptions.
Mad Minute is a fast-paced math fact practice strategy that our class does every day as our "Do Now." My students get one minute to finish as many problems as they can, working towards getting the highest number of consecutive problems correct. As my students work on Mad Minute more and more, they improve their accuracy and speed. We also focus on improvement rather than overall score, celebrating students who get higher scores towards the end of the week.
ClassDojo is a free behavior tracking system. I use it everyday to give students feedback on how they're meeting academic and behavioral expectations. As students are given postiive points or "needs work" points, a sound beeps and the entire class hears and sees that a student is being given feedback. Just as with behavior narration, students become more aware about their personal behaviors, following the expectations as they see them reiterated through behavior points. Their scores carry through with them to each class, culminating in a report at the end of the day that goes home to the students' parents. This allows parents to stay in the loop with how students are working and behaving at school.