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.
Everyone loves tickets! When students earn tickets during the Vocab Blitz, Bull Boards, and other moments, students drop them into the raffle jar. On Fridays we pull out a few names for Nerddy prizes like pens and highlighters.
Since my students use several different online platforms to personalize their learning, it is crucial that my students review outcomes and trends in their technology usage. Once a week, the class meets to celebrate achievements by "shouting out" students with high performance and also hold students accountable by "calling out" students who have not spent enough time doing problems correctly. Topics that show lower levels of mastery are reviewed and explained, and upcoming assignments are previewed. This is also the time when I respond to the questions my students have asked via the platforms' messaging systems.
Fluency is important, and finding the time to practice it in class can be tough. Fortunately, my students and I came up with Face Off, a simple, gamefied way to practice multiples and other fluency. 3 students must participate, where two students meet eyes and count off multiples until one makes a mistake. The third person moderates with an answer sheet. This can be modified to practice multiplication facts, division, or fraction operations. I create official FaceOff times where we actually play a "season" and work through a tournament style competition, with students advancing as they defeat their peers. This investment is great, but the fact that it runs itself is even better for me! Students often can be seen Face-ing Off in line in the Cafeteria, on the way to Specials, or in the neighborhood.