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.
Students use their dry erase markers and white boards to jot down notes and work though problems while they work online. This simple strategy supports students in actually working through problems that they may otherwise try to solve in their heads. It also helps students stay engaged on computers for longer periods of time.
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.
Students communicate nonverbally through their hands that they agree, disagree, or want to add onto what someone previously said. Just think for a minute the amount of time we as teachers stop for interruptions. This strategy shows us that there are ways to effectively communicate with each other silently.