Mild, Medium & Spicy Groups
I group my students into three proficiency groups - Mild, Medium, and Spicy. This is a system of general differentiation that allows me to easily assign practice or even homework. Students know their level and know that the assigned practice is likely best for them. Their level is also assigned to them based on various factors, including benchmark assessments, formative assessments, and informal observations made in class on a daily basis. I encourage my students to challenge themselves to try a "spicier" level when they're ready. This gives students the flexibility to try harder material and excel at an appropriate and personalized pace.
Dojo Dollars is the name given to the online class economy powered by ClassDojo. ClassDojo.com is a free, online management system where students can recieve points or deductions for classroom actions. Students' Class Dojo points become Dojo Dollars they can spend for supplies, class time and special activities in this great example of a classroom economy. I have fused this with my Pillars of Power as well as class expectations like move with speed and the use of Synergy in collaboration. As students earn points, they transfer to Dojo Dollars on Friday. They can spend their money at the store to buy nerdy things, or buy class time to do other activities that they are interested in. The system allows me to have an accurate picture of class behavior, while making it easy to focus on the positive behaviors I see. The easy parent communication and messaging features also allow for quick, seamless communication.
Workshop is a powerful strategy that provides my students with a degree of choice in how they learn the content in my blended learning classroom. It is also a method of holding them accountable for their choices. I believe that it's important for my students to learn how to manage their time and how to evaluate their learning options so that they can grow closer to taking charge of their own education. Each day, student groups receive "tallies"--ratings for moving quickly, making smooth transitions, and employing responses that feature academic vocabulary and professionalism. I use these tallies to determine the order in which student groups select their blended learning stations on the following day.
In my school, students use a lab rotation system where they go to a computer lab for set amounts of time to work on online content through sites such as Lexia and ST Math. In my own class, I also use a station rotation system, where groups of students spend time learning in different ways. Online sites like Khan Academy and FrontRow help to differentiate the content, collaborative skills make learning social, and teacher interventions help me to address misconceptions. My students gain valuable digital and character skills while they manage their own learning. My model has fostered perseverance and independence among my students that I know will help them to be successful in their lives.
Number of Students: 17 students per class
Number of Adults: one teacher; one paraprofessional (20 minutes per period)
Length of Class Period/Learning Time: 90 minutes with teacher; 90 minutes in Learning Lab
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: Khan Academy; Google Classroom; Google Forms; Front Row; ST Math (in Learning Lab); DreamBox (in Learning Lab)
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: Chromebooks (1:1 ratio); SMARTboard
Key Features: station rotation; lab rotation; student agency;individualized learning paths