Real World Hook
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.
I ask Student Scouts to identify peers who demonstrate the three class standards/rules (showing respect, solving problems, and making good decisions) to reinforce the idea that good behavior is rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically. Student Scouts identify their peers who are showing these standards at various pausing points throughout the lesson and give out Literacy Awards. Pausing points are planned purposefully and serve as opportunities for students to practice monitoring and assessing their own behavior.
This strategy is a biweekly problem solving investigation on recently learned content. Typically students will be given sample scanned answers that I have hand selected. These problems have been previously solved. Students meet on the carpet for the mystery problem reveal. We also cover what the goal of our session will be using a checklist/success rubric. They are then dismissed to investigate in teams. The students select manipulatives to discuss, develop an agreed upon idea, and critique which student(s) response they agree with/why. If a team finishes early they can work on they "Step ahead" which is harder differentiated task. Finally they use the checklist to self reflect if they were successful during the mystery problem session.
This strategy is called Blended Learning Timekeeper. The BL Timekeeper circulates and focuses on looking for students who are moving with urgency and purpose. This strategy emphasizes focus and motivation. Since we implemented this strategy in our class, the students are logging on faster, as they want to be an 'urgency all-star'.