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.
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.
Our students take several online assessments which gives us more data on each student's reading development, their gaps in reading, and their strengths. These online assessments help give a more holistic approach to a child's reading development since we are using multiple assessments. Included are the assessments in iReady, the STAR Enterprise, and My On.
As a blended school, sometimes there is an overwhelming amount of data. Knowing how to use it and when is critical in making sure that the data is both purposeful and useful. Included is both offline (DRA, RAZ, and Interim Benchmark assessments) and online (iReady) assessments to inform instruction and make groups (guided reading, computer groups, and skills-based groups).