Writer's Workshop Conference
One of the most powerful benefits of my school's blended learning model is the amount of time it creates for me to work individually with my students on their literacy development. One strategy I use often is a Writer's Workshop Conference, which consists of my having a targeted conversation with each student during which I am able to give feedback about his or her writing. I work hard at the beginning of the year to establish a classroom culture in which all students, regardless of the activity they are involved with at any given moment, understand how important it is that I be able to provide focused, uninterrupted support to each of them. This makes it possible for me to focus on one student's writing for three to five minutes every day while other students are working individually or in small groups.
This strategy is a small group guided instruction, or in student friendly language, team time with Mr. Esparza. A group of 3-4 students is pulled as other teams are conducting a differentiated math investigation. Students are given a selection of materials to create models and formulate ideas. We work as a collective to identify our misconceptions by asking ourselves questions, explaining why, and checking for understanding. As a scaffold, students use hand signals and our learning goal success rubrics to check themselves for understanding throughout the process.
Each week the boat on our ‘Treasure BL Wall’ is moved across three islands until the boat reaches the final island where a treasure awaits the class with a hidden treasure. Once we have reached the treasure the hidden prize usually is something like a popcorn party, movie. pizza party, game time party, or class-selected incentive. This is the last part of the reflection. This part involves students deciding if we should or should not move our blended learning tracking tool towards our end goal. Our tracking tool in my class is the treasure blended learning wall, where students can see their progress and can view blended learning in a game-like way. The game involves students versus fictional characters on our map who are trying to get to the goal before we can.
A blended teacher’s personal mindsets shape his decisions as an educator. These mindsets influence general pedagogies, instructional approaches, and short-term decision making, alike. Check out how Jeff’s mindsets have helped to shape his blended instruction.