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.
In my class, we go over one word a day from the unit we’re learning. The first step is to ask the class how many have heard of the word before. After I tally the number, those students predict its meaning (without giving any contexts). I ask them to justify why they make that prediction (e..g, where have they heard that word before? What clues are they drawing their information from?). After they share their predictions, I then share with them the signal or physical movement attached to word. It then becomes the signal word of the day.
We began to pilot blended learning three years ago starting with K-2. So our 3rd grade students have had three years of blended learning and we have a solidified understanding of what works. At Aspire Titan Academy, we use a rotational model in both math and ELA, which provides students 90 to 120 minutes of individual computer time daily. In both math and ELA, students are divided into two group, each spending half their time in teacher-led instruction and the remainder of working on the computers. While they’re on the computers, students use either DreamBox Learning (math), i-Ready or myON (reading), or an enrichment program, such as a typing software program.
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: 120 minutes (Reading and Writing Block)
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: MyOn; i-Ready
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: Lenovo ThinkPads (1:2 ratio); SMARTboard; Document Camera; iPad (for teacher)
Key Features: station rotation; student agency
At our blended school, we value data in all forms, whereby we seek to meet both the academic and behavioral needs of our students. In the elementary school setting, where we assess reading levels every six weeks, we also assess student growth and mastery in each student’s blended learning every quarter and assess behavioral trends on a monthly basis.