The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.
Poll Everywhere is a reflective tool that we use in my classroom to get insight into each other's thoughts, opinions, and answers. Essentially, students on any technology can open a specific or the permant poll question and respond throughout the day. Sometimes, we even do a wordle reflection to get a "pulse check" of how students feel about the content. The students often use Poll Everywhere during Marzano's practice or Workshop to leave advice or share a success or failure with their students. The thinking here is it is important for students to feel like they have an avenue to reflect, and that what they want to say can be useful for others. It helps us to foster a sense of true collaboration and community.
CSI Time is an inquiry based strategy where students must solve a "math mystery" that introduces a concept that we will learn. They have until the end of the week to collaboratively (with their detective partner) discover the clues and work their way to the "criminall". In just 10 minutes, students have worked themselves into a frenzy to grapple with content they may not already know what to do with. This desire to problem solve pushes students during the lesson that follows to learn the skills they need to solve the mystery.
While the majority of students are working on leveled online practice, I pull groups for leveled interventions. In these targeted small gropus, I give support to students practicing the same level so they can advance to the next level. We identify the skill at hand, work on some practice problems using white boards, and then spend time working on the online practice individually. Students have the opportunity to collaborate, supporting each other in figuring out the skill to pass the level.