"Making Our Brains Grow Bigger"
The "Making Our Brains Grow Bigger" Rubric is a kid-friendly rubric that supports and aids students in self-monitoring how quicky and efficiently they are working in their learning modality. Students use this rubric as a guide for what behaviors are expected during their blended rotation and also use it to self-rate themselves. "Superhero Brains" are celebrated in the class and can act as "peer supports" on the computer.
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.
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.
Writing partners are two students working together to collaboratively complete a task by reading together, asking questions to each other, and responding in written form together. Writing partners work together in every reading lesson as well as during writer’s workshop when they collaboratively read each other’s papers and ask for suggestions during the share portion.