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.
Numbered heads is a practice we use to randomize and create an element of excitement at the beginning of lessons/investigations. Each student draws a random number from their team cups to start lessons once a week.
At Aspire Titan Academy, we use a rotational model where some students engage with interactive software, enabling small group lessons for others. Our students have 90 to 120 minutes of individual computer time daily. Our rotational model is currently evolving to use more programs and create more rotations. The goal is to increase the opportunities for small group instruction where we can better meet individual needs.
Number of Students: 26 students
Number of Adults: one teacher; various other adults support during specific times (e.g., Blended Learning Coordinator, Special Education Teachers, etc.)
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 60 minutes--two 30 minute rotations (Math Block)
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: DreamBox
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: Lenovo ThinkPads (1:2 ratio); SMARTboard; Document Camera; iPad (for teacher)
Key Features: station rotation; student agency
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.