Split the Difference
I frequently have my students play games as part of their learning sessions. Many students only want to play the games and do not think of creating a written records of the problems they are solving or notes on their learning. I ask my students to "split the difference" and go 50/50 on playing and note-taking. It's kind of a misnomer since there really is no "difference" to split, but the strategy makes it clear that my students should be splitting their time equally between playing a game and taking notes during that game.
Formal transitions happen twice during a double-block period. My students have to move from one section of my extra-large classroom (3 classrooms merged into one) and move to another section for a new lesson with a new teacher. My students have two minutes to transition from session to session, and we play a variety of interesting music on the surround sound stereo system to keep it fun.
In 2011, my school was awarded a grant that brought the School of One mastery-based blended learning model to MS88. School of One allows students to learn at their own pace in a totally redesigned, open classroom that can fit well over 100 students in different centers of the room. Students are assessed at the beginning of the year and given a “learning trajectory” for the entire year. Every day, each student is assigned new individualized lessons in different parts of the classroom in one of seven different learning modalities: virtual instruction/reinforcement, independent practice, small group/peer-to-peer collaboration, live investigation, and task projects. At the end of each class, we use an “exit slip” to evaluate and regroup students based on their progress. They are required to demonstrate mastery in each skill or concept before they can move onto new skills and concepts.
Number of Students: ~300 students
Number of Adults: six teachers; one Operations Technology Associate; SPED teacher(s) and/or paraprofessionals (as needed)
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 92 minutes (divided into two 36 minute sessions)
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: proprietary web-based software; IXL, LearnZillion, VirtualNerd, Khan Academy, MangaHigh, Math XL, TenMarks, I Can Learn, Khan Academy, Engrade, Educreations, Padlet, Remind, Weebly, Google Apps for Education
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: student laptops (1:1), iPads for teachers, SMARTboards
Key Features: competency-based; student agency;individualized learning paths; project-based; innovative use of time; innovative use of talent; co-teaching
My colleagues and I use a variety of hand signals in our classroom to avoid unnecessary disruptions and maintain focus and time on task. Three common hand signals: a signal to use bathroom; a signal for needing scrap paper; and a signal for asking a presenter to speak louder. We introduce all of the hand signals to students at the beginning of the year in a community-wide Town Hall Meeting.