Writing partners are two students working together to collaboratively complete a task by reading together, asking questions to each other, and responding in written form together. Writing partners work together in every reading lesson as well as during writer’s workshop when they collaboratively read each other’s papers and ask for suggestions during the share portion.
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.
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.
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Mark communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.