Putting the Pieces Back Together

Today’s Contributor: Carmen A. Barrera is a STEM content interventionist and instructional coach at Dorothy Linder Elementary. She has 10 years of experience in blended learning and building connections with students. Follow her on Twitter @BarreraC_123

Most of the students were back in the beginning of the year, with all rostered students returning in January. We, as a district, moved from a concurrent teaching model to what some might say a “regular” classroom experience, whatever that may mean. This required an overall shift in my mindset of incorporating 1:1 devices and all of the skills the students have learned during concurrent and virtual models, with the research based, best practices that were vetted with face to face instruction. The “going back to normal” did not happen for me. I lost or forgot skills, resources and processes that were automatic and streamlined into my daily interactions and lessons. For instance,  I could not write upside down anymore, which really took me by surprise during my small group mathematics interventions. Reflecting on these noticings, it was time to regroup, reset and incorporate the learnings from previous years and from the Transformative Technology Leadership Pathway.

Student Voice and Choice

Getting to know your students with learner profiles and surveys is one way to create engaging learning opportunities for your students. Knowing the students and building the relationship gives insight to the teacher on their interests, perceived strengths and goals. When learning simplifying expressions, I incorporated viral math problems that were written on the background of an anime show that students love. They looked forward to our viral math problem of the day, even designing their own for use to simplify. 

Giving students a choice and a say in their learning, pacing, and mastery increases engagement, academic achievement and boost self confidence. Students, after analyzing their learnings from SCA and bi-weekly assessments, determined their areas of need and chose the content to review for STAAR prep. Students sequenced an entire month of learning that was geared towards their learning goals and made them active participants in their learning. Students chose when and how to demonstrate their mastery with a shared understanding of what mastery is and looks like. It is a balance between online and offline; synchronous and asynchronous.

Let’s Not Forget

Those skills lost will return (I’m back to writing upside-down), but all the skills gained will continue to stay. Now, it is about a new balance, not going back to normal.

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