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.
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
My students engage in a strategy called Math Fact Fluency for a few minutes each class period. They use a dry erase marker to fill in a blank multiplication table inside a plastic sheet protector according to a specific rule (by 2s, by 5s, etc.). I use this strategy to help my students notice patterns within the multiplication table and to develop a deep conceptual understanding of multiplication.
Observation charts are a type of inquiry chart that stimulate students’ curiosity. They build background information while providing teachers with a diagnostic tool. And they provide opportunities for language support from peers. During an observation chart, I use real pictures or paintings attached to white poster paper or butcher paper that contain a theme (e.g., food from a culture, ways of transportation, games a culture plays, etc.). My students walk around from observation chart to observation chart and write down either a question they're wondering about, a comment they'd like to make, or just an observation (i.e., statement of fact).