What an amazing day of classroom observations! Christy Thomason and Brandi Snead (@thomasontigers & @sneadsuperstars) have embraced a blended model and the flow of their station rotation is spot on. I spent about 30 minutes in each classroom to see how their model is going.
I started in Mrs. Thomason’s room. She introduced a lesson using a Brainpop video about making 10. After introducing the concept, Mrs. Thomason reviewed the station rotation for the day. Group 1 started at Dreambox stations on Chrome books and iPads to continue with their adaptive learning path. The remaining students would split between her at the table for a small group instruction with manipulative and academic language development while another group worked offline in a station where they constructed number arrangements by cutting and glueing “dice like” number squares to build numbers. I was excited to see that Mrs. Thomason even included an “if you finish early” activity for students to do independently. (this was needed by 2 students who did not miss a beat; they cleaned up the number construction work, turned it in and moved on to the extra activity completely independently.)Click to view slideshow.
After a set amount of time, students at the number construction table switched with the teacher led station. Students at Dreambox remained working. After the 2 short groups had rotated the group did a larger rotation with the Dreambox students moving to the teacher station and number construction station while those students moved on to start their Dreambox independent
Highlights from my observation
All students were engaged during the entire time. She had clearly taught procedures and checked understanding because students knew what to do. Although she has an “ask 3 before me routine”, kids are still learning it and they are still interrupting her to get answers to things they can find answers to elsewhere. That will improve with time. She is building independent learning skills and this is first grade. They will get there!
The small direct instruction group allowed Christy to zoom in on specific needs of the 6 or so kids in front of her. Every student had her attention and she was able to give specific feedback. This will strengthen her relationships with students, help her quickly see misconceptions and address them immediately.
The Students at the number construction table were have conversations, helping each other asking questions and practicing concepts in a collaborative community environment. It was social and busy and they knew what to do. Noise level was appropriate- she had reviewed CHAMPS with them prior to starting.
Students in the Dreambox station showed their various learning preferences. Some chose to work independently finding a quiet spot that suited them. Some preferred a more social arrangement so they could ask each other for help or celebrate successes with each other. Some need to work on appropriate voice level for station work but they are still learning this. Other students need space to move and they found a place on the rug for a rocking seat or to lay down and move their body as they needed in a non-disruptive way. You could really see the benefit offering student choice in their work environment in this classroom.
Mrs. Snead had the same type of activities but organized them a little differently. Like Mrs. Thomason, she had a longer Dreambox station that alternated with smaller game-based activities offline for students to engage socially, practice academic vocabulary and apply the concepts they had been learning. These game included a game like War when students had to add numbers on pairs of cards with the person with the largest sum taking all of the card. Other students played a dice game where they had roll dice, add numbers and mark off 5 numbers in a row before their partner.Click to view slideshow.
Highlights from My Observation
A structural difference in her rotation is that after 1 round of Dreambox with the 2 substations, she pulled students up for a whole group activity to brake up the pace of the math block. I thought this was an interesting twist that could help break up pace and offer kids some variety and movement during long blocks. All kids were very engaged in the learning. Because Mrs. Snead herself was not a station, she was free to walk among the working students and listen to the conversations, clear up an misconceptions, positively reinforce and monitor efforts and behaviors. I was amazed at how well these teachers have the process flowing so early in the year.
Data analysis is on the short list and we will start doing that by the end of this week. We are very interested to see what the data from this adaptive program is able to tell us and what the implications for instruction will be going forward!