Episode 03: The importance of data folders and weekly data meetings in a blended learning classroom.
Step 1: Start with Checklist Folders
The best advice I can give to new blended learning teachers that once you deploy checklist start by putting the checklist into a folder. Make sure to get folders with prongs so that the checklist doesn't fall out of the folder. The front pocket is designated for "In Progress" work, and the back pocket is for the "Completed" work. Take a look at the photo below to get a better idea on how to design the folder.
Step 2: Print
"If I am going to kill a tree, I am going to for two things; Checklist and Data Folders" M. Kish.
I believe in being paper light not paperless in the classroom setting. I love seeing our teachers using Google Classroom, or an LMS to post notes, agendas, activities, and newsletters. This is saving the trees and keeping paper out of the landfills. However, I recommend printing two things for any classroom. First the checklist. There is something about being able to mark off the completed items on a checklist and making notes on the checklist to remember the content for later use. The second thing that I would print would be the items in the data folders. If the data is always in front of the students and the teacher then they will refer back to the information more frequently. Take a look at our data folder items that we print for each student.
Step 3: Start Small
Step 4: The Traveling Data Folder
The students should travel from one learning studio to the next with the data folders. When the students attend the mini-lesson, they should bring the data folder.
Side Note: The data folders NEVER LEAVE the classroom. The checklist and folders stay in the classroom at all times. If you need work to go, send it home in a different folder.
Step 5: Data Meetings
The key to Student Ownership and Student Engagement is to conduct data meetings with the students. The data meetings don't have to take a lot of time but rather a quick one on one meeting to answer any questions, to review any misconceptions, and help level up the students. Some of our teachers conduct a data meeting on Monday mornings. The Monday morning data meetings are set up to go over the checklist, talk about the pre-assessment from Friday, and to customize the checklist for the individual student. This quick meeting takes about a minute to a minute and a half for each student.
Other teachers conduct Wednesday data meetings. This mid-week checkpoint helps to ensure that the students are getting their work done on the checklist as well as answering any questions, checking in with the students, and adding any weekly data to the data folder.
Some teachers conduct their data meetings on Friday. The Friday data meetings are the final check-in for the week. The students need to meet with the teacher to showcase the completion of the checklist from the week, look at the pre and post assessment data, and set goals for the following week.
Start with one data meeting a week. Pick the day of the week that best works into your mini-lesson plans. Set a timer. Only meet with the students for a minute and a half. Meet with all students. Don't forget to use this time to build relationships with the students. Ask about them. How are they doing? How is their puppy? How is the new baby sister at home? This quick conversation will help to build relationships with the students.
The Best Parts About Data Folders
Of course, data folders can seem to be overwhelming, but in reality, the data folders will save you time. Think about it, when it comes time for parent-teacher conferences, the data folder becomes your resource to share with the parents. You will know your students. I can not tell you how many times teachers have thanked me. They thank me because this process of meeting one-on-one with the students builds the relationships. Teachers feel like they know the students more than other years. If the students trust you and know that the teacher is there to help, then they will be more likely to achieve more and work harder for the teacher.
Episode 02: Classroom management tips for allowing students work at their own pace through a weekly checklist. Focus topic: Timers
As the students transition into taking ownership of their learning, the teacher and the students have to be aware of how to manage time. The last thing that we want to happen in the blended learning classroom is procrastination. One of the techniques that work well with time management is the deployment of student timers along with the Phase Two checklist. In today's video and blog post, I am going to share out my favorite timers as well as a few websites that will help with time management.
Side Note: I have used and demonstrated the following timers in the K-12 classrooms. Today's classroom video showcases a 1st grade classroom using one of the techniques. The photos will show sample Middle and High School classrooms using the same tools.
The next day, we taught the students how to use kitchen timers. The students were excited; they could not wait to start tracking time. Twenty minutes into the selfed paced classroom, the teacher and myself were ready to toss the timers out the window. That was too much dinning and chirping all class period long.
Side Note: Kitchen timers are cheap and make good timers. I would recommend finding some that don't ding so loud.
Side Note: The trouble with Sand Timers is the fact the students can quickly flip the sand back and forth. They can get knocked over. Most importantly, now that the timers don't make noise the students while reading will not know that their time has expired.
However, after a certain amount of time, the students need to keep working through the checklist and the teacher needs to see all of the students throughout the class period. Therefore, this timer, becomes the signal and cue to the teacher to wrap up the lesson and move to the next group of students. The Cube timers are easy, quick and provide a sense of time when flipped.
Side Note: I found two sets of cube timers on Amazon. The cube timers were meant for circuit workouts but they work just fine in the blended learning mini-lesson.
The Gym Boss not only counts down a timer with a transition time allotment but it also vibrates. The vibration helps to signal that time is up, and it is time to move to the next activity.
Side Note: I highly recommend the Gym Boss for every student, but they are pricey. Therefore, to start, give the gym boss to those students that have a hard time transitioning.
Side Note: This timer is expensive. Therefore, I recommend only buying four timers, one at each learning studio. Then over time, pick up a few more so students can have their soft glow timer.
Of course there are only timers that you can use to help showcase elapsed time. My only suggestion is that the eventually, the interactive pannel should be used by the students as part of thier checklist items. To get started though, it is okay to display the timer.
Below are a list of my favorite count down timers.
How to play the Three As
Bring all of the players together around a table or in a living room.
Pass out three post-it-notes to each player (Note I tore off the sticky part of the post-it-note to make it easier to open
Pass out writing pen to each person.
Once everyone has a post-it-note and pen. Ask each person to write on one post-it-note
Next, fold each of the pieces of paper and place into a basket or a bowl
Time to play
In round one, you can say Any word to get the team to guess the word on the card
Timer: Set timer for 40 seconds
Team A will start first
Team B player will hold the basket for Team A
Team A will try to get her team to guess the word on the card. If they get the word correct, then toss the card on the floor or on the table. If the word is not guess or if the player wants to pass, the word goes back into the basket.
After the 40 seconds, it is now Team B to guess the words. The player for Team B will try to get his team to guess as many words as possible by only saying words. Remeber no acting. Follow the same rules as Team A.
When time is up for both groups, mark down how many words were correctly guessed by each team.
A new team player will come up to the front of the room. Repeat the process until all of the words are out of the basket.
For round two, the players can only Act out the words.
To start round two, replace all of the guess words back into the basket. When the team members come up to the front of the room, they will be only able to act out the word. Repeat the same proceess as listed above for round one. Once all of the words are guessed, count up the number correct for each team.
For round three, the team player will give one word and and the team can only give one answer. Same rules and procedures from round one and round two are still in place. This time though, the player can give only one word and the team can only give one answer.
Declare a Winner
The primary purpose of designing a future-ready learning studio is to provide the tactile learners a chance to explore the content through a different medium. Note that all of the learning studios are interconnected. Meaning that the same learning target is being taught in the mini-lesson, practiced in the independent learning studio, retaught in the digital content, and showcased in the future ready learning studio.
Using Dry Erase Dice in a future ready learning studio
Future Ready Learning Studio Misconception
A future-ready learning studio activity can take place over a couple of days. For example:
Monday - the students roll the dice to learn new vocabulary words
Tuesday - the students can play a game of charades to practice the words
Wednesday - the students can build a song that helps them to remember the words
Thursday - the students record the song on FlipGrid or Seesaw.me
Friday - the students listen or watch other group presentations.
Learn More with Marcia Kish
Imagine a classroom where students are eager to come to class. In fact, they are so excited about learning that they start working on their checklist before the bell even rings. The students quickly find a learning studio around the room that best fits their current learning objective listed on their individual checklist. The teacher is at the front of the room working with a small group of students based on the data collected from online software programs, a formative assessment, or from yesterday's mini-lesson. The teacher is high fiving the students when they complete their work and is encouraging them to level up in their learning. Now look toward the back of the room, the students are standing while working through online learning content. Today's lesson is a video on EdPuzzle that the teacher created to align with the differentiated mini-lessons. The students can pause the video and take notes in their learning studio notebook. Turn to the right; you will notice a small group of students working collaboratively as they learn their vocabulary words. They are acting out the words through a game of charades. The laughter fills the air when one student acts out the word melting. Turn to the left; you and will see students working independently on an activity sheet that is differentiated based on the level up data provided to each student from the digital content. (We like to use Freckle to help give the individual activities that the students will need to complete on their own or with a partner). The students move from one learning studio to the next when they complete an activity. Forty-five minutes had gone by, and the bell rings. The students moan. They want to stay in class and finish the items on their checklist. Can you imagine a classroom that runs like this every day? Is it possible?
This is not a dream classroom. This is really happening
Yes, it is true, we see classrooms all around the country moving to this type of learning style. It all starts with designing a classroom that promotes student ownership. That is right before we can indeed change the classroom into a blended learning environment, we first have to start by exploring ways to design a classroom focuses on student ownership.
The Three R's to Student Ownership
"Humans are literally hard-wired with the desire to connect" T.Brown.
As a blended learning coach, one of the very first things I look for in a classroom is the relationship between the teacher and the students. If the teacher has designed a classroom where she is the CEO of the learning environment and takes time to listen to the needs and wants of the students, then the students will be more apt to build a working relationship with the teacher. According to Brown, this does not mean to be authoritarian but rather be firm with the rules and draw a line in the sand on what behaviors are acceptable.
Building classroom relationships with the students should not be overlooked. One of the tips that we point out to teachers is to meet in a small group with each student every day. A mini-lesson can be set up where the teacher pulls groups of students back to work through a math problem, a science experiment, a timeline, or critical aspects of a novel. Even if a group of students does not need small group instruction, we still find it very valuable to meet even for a couple of minutes to check-in with the students.
One of the teachers that I have recently worked with said to me "I can not believe how much more I know about my students now that I am delivery my content in a small group. I am looking forward to parent-teacher conferences this year due to that I have so much to share with the parents. Why didn't I do this years ago?" J. George
Mini-Lessons help build student relationships
First, the students will be in shock, then they move to denial, followed by surrendering to the thought of student ownership, then they build confidence, and then finally they start to see success in the new learning environment. Deploying student ownership is a journey, not a sprint. Therefore, along the way, the teacher should take a pulse on the classroom to find out what is working, what changes need to be made so that all students are successful.
If a teacher would like the student to take ownership, then he has to let go of control. Yes, I said it, "let go of control." How can a teacher transition the student ownership over to the students without complete chaos eruption? By deploying the Three Phases of Blended Learning. In Phase One, the teacher still has much control of the classroom while the students travel from one learning studio to the next in timed circuits. (This is also known as the Station Rotation method). After three or four times of deploying the Phase One circuits, it is time to move to Phase Two. Phase Two now allows the students to move through the content at their own pace, place, and they can pick their path. The teacher will provide each student with a paper checklist. The students will pick the different learning studios that he would like to work on first, second, and third. There is no whole group timer but rather individual timers that provide a signal to finish up the learning task and move to the next learning studio. Note, that in Phase two the students do not have to move in a whole group but rather when they complete the learning studio activity. Now in Phase Three, the students will start to have a differentiated checklist based on their learning targets. The students still move through their checklist at their own pace, place, and path but now everything is being driven by the data. The gradual release of ownership will help to make sure that the students can complete the learning targets within a given timeframe.
Learn More from Marcia Kish
Marcia Kish - Blended and Personalized Learning coach that designed the Three Phases of Blended Learning