Council is a time for my students to share their highs and lows related to academics, and to share what's successful and struggling for them in the class. It is a non-hierarchical forum for discussion. This is important in my classroom because it gives us a powerful practice to understand more fully and appreciate the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and opinions of our classroom. It is a process that continually evolves with each group and in each time in our own developments.
At Aspire Titan Academy, we use a rotational model where some students engage with interactive software, enabling small group lessons for others. Our students have 90 to 120 minutes of individual computer time daily. Our rotational model is currently evolving to use more programs and create more rotations. The goal is to increase the opportunities for small group instruction where we can better meet individual needs.
Number of Students: 26 students
Number of Adults: one teacher; various other adults support during specific times (e.g., Blended Learning Coordinator, Special Education Teachers, etc.)
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 60 minutes--two 30 minute rotations (Math Block)
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: DreamBox
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: Lenovo ThinkPads (1:2 ratio); SMARTboard; Document Camera; iPad (for teacher)
Key Features: station rotation; student agency
When a student is working on the computers, they may ask a peer for help if they haven't successfully figured out how to solve a problem. I emphasize trying something first on your paper to explain what you have tried to your buddy, and ask for ideas they may have. Given the adaptive nature of our BL software, many students are encountering difficult content. I want my students to teach each other how to overcome challenges and persevere. This helps to create a sense of unity along with our motivational BL wall.
I use "call and response" strategies for a variety of purposes in my blended classroom, most of which involve getting my students' attention and reinforcing core concepts of the day's lesson or our school's mission. I use the Focusing Call and Response strategy, which consists of using more than one call and response chant, whenever I need to signal a major change in the mode of instruction or any other time I need to get my students' attention quickly and respectfully. The strategy engages my students and helps them work together to achieve 100% compliance with any instructions I may give. This strategy is especially important because there are so many transitions in my school's blended learning model.