I begin every Math class with a high-energy strategy called Threshold. Students line up outside the classroom door "dressed for success" in their uniforms with their shirts tucked in. After a group greeting, a Math chant (practicing our multiples), and instructions for entering, my students walk to the door, shake my hand, enter the room, and immediately begin a Math warm-up. Threshold ensures that all of my students transition from their previous class smoothly and that their minds are ready for Math instruction.
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.
The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.
At the end of the lesson, when it comes time to practice, my students find themselves at varying levels of success with the material. Some of my students have mastered material, while others need more guidance. I teach my students how to use Robert Marzano's scale of self-assessment, which allows them to rate their level of need. In our class, each level of the scale corresponds to a mode of practice, including teacher guidance, peer tutoring, online practice, and enrichment.