Mark's Approach to Collaboration & Communication
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Mark communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.
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.
During the Problem Solving Investigation, students are in their teams and are delegating/agreeing on what their next steps and strategies will be during a problem solving investigation. Once they are ready to begin they show the teacher a silent signal, in this case a thumbs-up. They are then dissmissed to begin their investigation using manipulatives and materials they have are given/may select from. During this time each student is given a randomized role based on their drawn number for the session. Then students select strategies to solving the problem and collaborate using the strategies they've selected from our marh strategies card. Once they agree they provide feedback or ask questions in ways to proceed forth/close out the investigation task. The students identify their next steps and are in control of their own learning. I implement this strategy to catalyze stronger teamwork skills and lifelong collaborative abilities.This strategy is developing skill sets students will need in the upper grade levels as well as in college. Basic interpersonal communication and academic language profficiencies can only flourish when ample opportunities are created in the classroom.
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.