Warm Welcomings is a strategy I use to develop a strong positive culture in my blended classroom. When students enter into an inviting atmosphere and begin the class on a positive note, they are able to focus better. It is important to me to start off class together on the rug because my students spend a significant portion of the class working independently on computers and in small groups. Warm Welcomings gives us the time to come together as a community of scholars and it can be anything from a "welcome back from recess" to an invitation for students to share something positive about their time away from class.
I make sure that my students have heard the directions I've given using this simple but effective check for understanding strategy. Having students repeat directions or an expectation provides them with an opportunity to re-state or clarify their understanding. For example, if a student responds incorrectly, I don't just move on to another student all the time. I ask the same question in a different way so that my student who initially responded incorrectly, unclearly, or incompletely has another opportunity to answer with more clarity. Thumbs Up, I Get This! is another way to hold students accountable during their independent time.
One of my goals as a first grade teacher is to develop independent learners that can problem solve or decide when it is time to request assistance from others. Self-reliance is a need that many parents talk to me about during conferences and as a result, I've turned to two different strategies in the classroom that allow students to continue their work while informing me of their comfort level of the task. These strategies are known as self monitoring tools that help me to prioritize which students I need to assist first.
Saved by the Bell is a throwback to the old sitcom of my days. During guided reading I use a bell as a means for non-verbal student management, particularly with noise level. One ring of the bell indicates a warning to all that the room is getting loud. Two bells indicates that individuals who I spot are still not keeping their noise level down will run the risk of changing a behavior star. The expectations were set as a class and therefore students know they will be held accountable.