Raul's Approach to Collaboration & Communication
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Raul communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.
I make sure that my students have heard the directions I've given using this simple but effective check for understanding strategy. Having students repeat directions or an expectation provides them with an opportunity to re-state or clarify their understanding. For example, if a student responds incorrectly, I don't just move on to another student all the time. I ask the same question in a different way so that my student who initially responded incorrectly, unclearly, or incompletely has another opportunity to answer with more clarity. Thumbs Up, I Get This! is another way to hold students accountable during their independent time.
EEKK Think Pair Share is a fun variation on a traditional Think, Pair, Share that is useful for younger students. As an indicator to my students that they must engage in discussion with one another, I will say "Go EEKK," which stands for "elbow, elbow, knee, knee." Students recite the simple chant, “Elbow, elbow, knee, knee” and face each other knee-to-knee in the process to discuss whatever topic I have chosen. The EEKK strategy gives my students a structured way for engaging in collaborative, on-topic academic discourse.
Our Two Cents is a strategy to increase student discourse and have students respond to questions with more justification, reasoning, and elaboration. Giving their "two cents" refers to them giving more than a one-word response or more than one example. Adding Two Cents to a basket serves as an incentive to my students to elaborate on their responses without much prompting from me. The incentive for students can be determined by the teacher or by the members of the class so that they are motivated to push themselves rather than the teacher always pushing students.