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.
I begin every Math class with a high-energy strategy called Threshold. Students line up outside the classroom door "dressed for success" in their uniforms with their shirts tucked in. After a group greeting, a Math chant (practicing our multiples), and instructions for entering, my students walk to the door, shake my hand, enter the room, and immediately begin a Math warm-up. Threshold ensures that all of my students transition from their previous class smoothly and that their minds are ready for Math instruction.
At the end of each activity, the class comes together, evaluates, and gives a percentage for how we performed during the activity. We keep in mind several factors - how we did in progressing towards mastering the objective at hand, our participation as a group, and the extent which we meet behavioral expectations overall. At the end of the class, we average our percentages, and reflect on our performance in the day. This ensures that the students understand their performance as well as work as a team to push their percentage higher.
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.