Thumbs Up, I Get This!
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.
Flash Fluency is a strategy I use during guided reading sessions to make immediate adjustments to my instruction, based on my students' needs. To gather the information I need, I give a reading fluency check to one student from the group using a current or cold read text. The student reads for one minute while I keep track of miscues and make observations. It is followed by a quick comprehension check. Once this is completed, I address the student's needs immediately with the entire small group. Since my reading groups are homogenous, one student's needs are generally reflective of the needs of the other students in the group.
In Teacher Vs. Students, students compete against the teacher in a quick game of listening and participation. Typically we play this game after a general phonics rule has been taught and students have to practice hearing it for phonological practice. Rather than me just reading a word asking them to identify the sound, I am using the taught rule(s) and turning into a game of friendly competition to show that they are smarter than the teacher. It's important though, to be honest. If I win, I explain what they should practice more of and then try it again another day.
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.