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.
I use weekly Data Chats with my students as a powerful way to motivate and encourage them. The strategy allows us to celebrate successes and identify challenges. When analyzing data from the blended programs, I work hard to identify what my students should know (i.e., what data to pull out and share with students) and to give my students the appropriate next steps for improving their scores. In each Data Chat, I try to gather student input on what's challenging them and to have my students articulate the strategies that work for them.
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.
This strategy is a biweekly problem solving investigation on recently learned content. Typically students will be given sample scanned answers that I have hand selected. These problems have been previously solved. Students meet on the carpet for the mystery problem reveal. We also cover what the goal of our session will be using a checklist/success rubric. They are then dismissed to investigate in teams. The students select manipulatives to discuss, develop an agreed upon idea, and critique which student(s) response they agree with/why. If a team finishes early they can work on they "Step ahead" which is harder differentiated task. Finally they use the checklist to self reflect if they were successful during the mystery problem session.