Council for Character Development
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.
My students generate questions before their computer-based blended learning sessions in order to guide their reading of a text through the virtual library, MyOn. They will use these class-generated questions as a reading strategy ("asking questions") in order to increase their comprehension and will give more explicit purpose to their reading. This simple strategy has helped my students be more focused and successful when they're reading independently on My On.
At the conclusion of our team sessions my students self-assess, give feedback/compliments to one another, and agree or share out their disagreements with one another. Our two areas of focus right now are collaboration and accountability. My students score themselves on a scale from 1-4 on these habits and then track their progress daily/weekly in order to consider their next steps or provide feedback to one another. Perhaps most importantly, the sentence stems within the rubric help my students develop a repertoire of conversational skills they will need in the 21st century and beyond.
KWS stands for what we Know, Want to know, and how might we Solve a word problem. The KWS Chart is a catalyst that gets my students to organize and analyze complex word problems. My students are more successful with word problems when they have a toolkit for simplifying the complex information often found within word problems. This tool is an essential scaffold for English Language Learners in my class. The strategy is also great to uncover with my students the fact that there are multiple ways of solving a problem, no matter how complex it may be, and often times there may be multiple routes to a solution.