I use "call and response" strategies for a variety of purposes in my blended classroom, most of which involve getting my students' attention and reinforcing core concepts of the day's lesson or our school's mission. I use the Focusing Call and Response strategy, which consists of using more than one call and response chant, whenever I need to signal a major change in the mode of instruction or any other time I need to get my students' attention quickly and respectfully. The strategy engages my students and helps them work together to achieve 100% compliance with any instructions I may give. This strategy is especially important because there are so many transitions in my school's blended learning model.
Every Friday we meet to discuss a topic around character development and 21st century skills. This is a vital classroom practice in my class. Because blended learning is so high paced and intense, students need support as not only learners but people as well. Students transition from their seats to prepare to watch videos or form a circle around the perimeter of our carpet. Our council pieces are brought out. Council pieces are small items that both the students and I have brought which hold major meaning to us. Once we meet, the only person who can speak is the one holding the council piece. We begin by making a dedication to someone in our life or someone we have beeng thinking about. At the end of the dedications, we begin our council. The talking piece is passed around and all students share their thoughts or may pass. Sometimes we will bring an on-demand journal to share, or students may respond to a posed question.
We began to pilot blended learning three years ago starting with K-2. So our 3rd grade students have had three years of blended learning and we have a solidified understanding of what works. At Aspire Titan Academy, we use a rotational model in both math and ELA, which provides students 90 to 120 minutes of individual computer time daily. In both math and ELA, students are divided into two group, each spending half their time in teacher-led instruction and the remainder of working on the computers. While they’re on the computers, students use either DreamBox Learning (math), i-Ready or myON (reading), or an enrichment program, such as a typing software program.
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: 120 minutes (Reading and Writing Block)
Digital Content/Ed Tech Tools Used on a Regular Basis: MyOn; i-Ready
Hardware Used on a Regular Basis: Lenovo ThinkPads (1:2 ratio); SMARTboard; Document Camera; iPad (for teacher)
Key Features: station rotation; student agency
The "Making Our Brains Grow Bigger" Rubric is a kid-friendly rubric that supports and aids students in self-monitoring how quicky and efficiently they are working in their learning modality. Students use this rubric as a guide for what behaviors are expected during their blended rotation and also use it to self-rate themselves. "Superhero Brains" are celebrated in the class and can act as "peer supports" on the computer.