Council for Character Development
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.
This strategy is implemented prior to our BL chat, as an on demand writing/quick write. Students are given a prompt on reflecting on their recent blended sessions, for example, A success I am having is_____, and a concern I am having is_____, prior to viewing our data. Once students are ready to share they pair up randomly in groups of 2-3 and debrief their concerns and solutions, or answer the prompt that day. I note what their concerns are, then we strategize how we can address them as a class, who are the students we can reach out to for help. Then we close by sharing/celebrating their successes. We review our class data for each of our (3 main) programs, and the highest performing students, as well as the students who have improved from the last round are rewarded with a blended learning all star certificate and all star selfie picture to take home. The all star performers may select a small educational prize, like a book, bookmark, or poster.This strategy is implemented to have students problem solve around concerns and solutions they are noticing during blended learning or within particular program lessons. These chats are very informal and solution oriented. Students go through a series of questions which aim to instill personal reflection: how have I been doing on I-Ready, My-On, and Dreambox? Why? What am I doing well? What can I do to improve?
The big idea is to connect our data reflections to the next, in order to identify if we have reached our goal as a team.
I ask Student Scouts to identify peers who demonstrate the three class standards/rules (showing respect, solving problems, and making good decisions) to reinforce the idea that good behavior is rewarded both intrinsically and extrinsically. Student Scouts identify their peers who are showing these standards at various pausing points throughout the lesson and give out Literacy Awards. Pausing points are planned purposefully and serve as opportunities for students to practice monitoring and assessing their own behavior.
Mentor Reading is a researched-based fluency strategy used with readers who lack fluency. In this strategy, my students read aloud to each other. When using partners, my more fluent readers are paired with less fluent readers, which in this case a 3rd grader is paired with kindergartener. My students read a story that they have already read or read a story from their Kinder buddy's book box. When done purposefully and consistently, my students have become very fluent readers and enjoy reading more.