Main Idea Think Pair Share
Many teachers--myself included--utilize a version of the Think Pair Share strategy to give students opportunities for social learning and to build a culture of classroom community that includes respectful academic discourse. I use the Main Idea Think Pair Share strategy to ensure that my students are able to identify and articulate the main ideas of texts we are reading, which is one of the most foundational literacy skills that all effective readers must develop. I find that it can be helpful to use scaffolds like sentence stems and a variety of starting approaches (e.g., "the student with the longest hair speaks first") to ensure that this strategy remains fresh and accessible to my students, many of whom are English Language Learners.
One way we bring authenticity to our lessons is by making explicit connections or real world hooks to what we're learning. What I particularly enjoyed about our persuasive writing unit is that we were able to identify real problems in our own school community and to think of solutions. It then brought about real change in our school, and in this case brought about getting more magazines into the classroom which was an identified need of our class.
This (bi-weekly/tri-weekly) strategy is used to incentivize, motivate, and support my students in truly taking ownership for their own learning. During each Blended Learning Data Chat, I recognize students who are consistently performing at the highest levels (Top-5) per program with a certificate and a small prize of their choice like a book, poster, or eraser. I then have the highest performing students come up so we can take a group selfie (with a selfie stick, of course), and then print each student a copy of the picture. The last part of the Blended Learning Data Chat is the recognition and celebration of our top performers who receive a certificate and take a picture to take home. They also receive a poster, eraser, book, or small prize of their choice for their effort and consistency.
Within my blended learning classroom, students transition between computers and their desks or the carpet at least twice during every class period. To ensure that we don't lose valuable time during these transitions, I have implemented a structured process to support my students in moving from one station to another. When it's time for transition, I call out the name of a station, and the students in the appropriate group call out their group's name, indicating to me that they know where they are going. As students rotate onto the computers, they know that they should walk counter-clockwise, starting from the scratch paper area to their work areas.