Tuesday, November 3, 2015

WBT Power Pix…Foundational Core Knowledge!!


A hot topic on the Whole Brain Teaching website forum and blogs is Power Pix! What are they? How do I use them? Are they appropriate for all students?

Each year, my school district has grade level teams meet to create and organize curricular pacing plans for each area of study. These plans are developed to align curriculum with state standards, now labeled Common Core. The pacing plans provide teachers a unified time table of instruction, using specific district approved materials. To ensure the continuity of instruction across the district, the plans include quarterly benchmark assessments, which later lead into mandated state testing in the spring.

My experience with pacing plans through the years is that they never allowed for the time needed to fully develop certain concepts. In addition, the time required to meet the remediation needs of certain students, based on different learning styles, was not included in that time frame either. So what's a teacher supposed to do? Enter Whole Brain Teaching and Power Pix!

Chris Biffle, a creator of Whole Brain Teaching, states, "A significiant quantity of modern brain research demonstrates that we learn best by seeing, saying, hearing and doing. When we see information, we employ the visual cortex near the rear of the brain; when we say and hear information, the language centers, Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area in the brain’s left hemisphere are active. When we engage in a physical learning activity we employ the motor cortex, our most reliable memory storage area, located in a band across the top, center of the brain" ("2nd Grade LA Power Pix" 4). Mr. Biffle goes on to say, "We want our students to see, say, hear and do … we want them to experience the joy and power of learning with their whole brains. Power Pix, as you will see, employ all four learning modes, and are designed to solve a very practical problem, how to teach the state standards in Math and Language Arts." ("2nd Grade LA Power Pix” 4).
Using Power Pix in my classroom helps to ensure my students are not only learning and comprehending the state standards, they are also able to articulate them within the district guidelines for curriculum and the district pacing plan.

 I introduce the Pix in the order of the pacing plan, using the 5 Step Lesson Template (WBT Video Library). Pre-teaching a lesson by starting with a designated Pix Lesson, really helps to get your lessons off to a great start.  This is particularly helpful to English Learners!  Then, instead of setting the Pix aside when we move into the next chapter or unit of study, they remain posted on a grid wall for daily review. No more having to say to your class, “Remember when we were learning about synonyms last October?” No, now it’s, “C7! What is a synonym?” The gesture and answers become automatic for all learners because of the visual, verbal, auditory, and physical participation by every student in the repetition of each Pix daily!

When the school year begins, I have already set up a blue grid wall for Language Arts and a red grid wall for Math. These walls are initially empty of Pix. I start with two Pix from LA and two from Math. They are posted on my front white board and introduced using the 5 Step Lesson Template. (When you download the free Power Pix, you will find they even come with a script to help you!) The Pix stay on the front board until the majority of your class has grasped the concept. I usually allow one week. At this point, I have a duplicate, reduced size Pix ready to go on the grid wall. (I have to reduce the size because I have limited wall space, and I want to make sure the Pix stay visible for the year.)

The grid wall becomes a major cue system for recalling the standards. I make Power Pix practice a standard part of our daily morning routine. After I feel like the procedure for morning practice has become routine, I start choosing two student leaders each day to go up and call out the grid info. These students will each choose a Pix from the Math and one from the LA. For example, “B2!” The class responds back, “B2!” The student leader and the class will then recite together the Pix question with a gesture and the answer. Repeat this procedure for each of the choices the student leaders have picked that morning. Because the Pix stay visible to the class all day, they can easily be used for small group or individual instruction and review as needed. Here is a Video of my class doing daily morning practice of the Pix with a Class Leader.

There is no limit to how you can incorporate the Power Pix into that pacing plan! Building a strong Foundational Knowledge base through the use of the Power Pix in my classroom has ultimately led to an elevated application of differentiated instruction.  Being able to pull on that core knowledge to offer and support strong evidence during participation in a variety of learning environments, including PBL scenarios, students display an increase in critical thinking and individual personal growth, academically and socially.  In addition, when you come to district and state testing periods, and have to cover up or remove any instructional materials from view, your students will be prepared and more confident to meet the tasks at hand!

The Power Pix are a free Ebook download at the WBT site.  Check this Pinterest link also for more information about Power Pix and how to download a range of subject and grade level Power Pix!  Here is another video (Check at 33:07 and at 35:07, specifically) with info on the Power Pix.

Final note, if you are just learning of the Power Pix, don’t be put off by the time in the year.  Go back to your year-long pacing plan.  Note what core concepts have been introduced, and pull the Pix for those now.  These will be easy to present, and the cue gesture attached will heighten the review.  Then, look at your pacing plan to decide when to introduce the next Pix. 

If you have ANY questions, don’t hesitate to leave them here!  You may also contact me at NancyStoltenberg@WholeBrainTeaching.com

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The AMAZING Brainies!!!

SuperSpeed Brainies Banner

"The Brainies!”  are powerful WBT tools used to help elevate reasoning, critical thinking, and Funtricity in the classroom!  These simple and fun cue gestures better enable students to grasp abstract concepts by activating the motor cortex, visual cortex, and limbic system.

In addition, Chris Biffle, founder of Whole Brain Teaching, states, “The Brainies are a combination of sounds and gestures that when used are guaranteed to develop amazing writers. By using these Brainies, students WILL be college ready and prepared to write exemplary 10 page college term papers.”


I introduce this activity the first day of school, so I need to have my materials ready for each student.  Above is an example of the Brainies Desk cue card, reduced in size, for each student. Below are directions for preparing the Brainies and introducing them.


I copy the sheet on card stock, cut apart, and laminate. Each student receives a copy for personal use at their desk. I tape it below their Name desk plate for a quick visual reference. Students use this as a cue card during Oral Writing, writing assignments, Prove it!, and Brainy Competitions. As students learn the Brainies, they become less dependent on the card as they speak and write. I make several extra cards to have ready for small group instruction as well.

I introduce Brainies the first week of school to set the expectations in my classroom. I introduce the end marks, comma, capital letter, because, and For example first. The students love the gestures, and they are asked to teach their families the gestures as well. If you can afford the colored ink, I send an extra card home for use.



Every day put up one or two Brainies: Capital Letter, Because Clapper, For example, Also, Compare, etc. When the kids are talking to each other during a Teach-Okay set, you are looking for them to add the gesture/concept . We want to move Teach-Okay beyond the crucial skill of paraphrasing and into Oral Writing and Critical Thinking.  When you see kids using the Brainies, then praise them ... you see them continuing ... you can give them a star on the Super Improvers Team Wall. 

The Brainies are easy to implement and "powerful"!  So, after you do individual Brainies, then you can have them work on two or more!  Another extension is to tell your students, "You pick the ones you and your partner want to work on ... and let me see if I can guess which ones you picked."  

For more information on how to use the Brainies in your instruction, see Webcast # 579 and download the free ebook at wholebrainteaching.com, The Brainy Game.  I encourage you to also check out Chris Biffle’s newest book, 122 Amazing Games!  This includes the game, The Brainy Minute! which is a fun way to get your students started on using the Triple Whammy! 

Here are some videos demonstrating the use of Brainies in the classroom.  Don’t hesitate to leave questions!




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kInK14Swh-s (see minute 33:30)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Engager!! Mirror Words!!!

There is never a bad time to pull out your MIRROR! Oh, yeah! There are three kinds of WBT Mirrors, but for the first of the year, our focus is on Mirror Words. You will be using this amazing technique from the first day of school until the last day of school! It is that powerful! This can be used for teaching and reinforcing any concept or procedure throughout your day! You will get an instant read on who is participating and who is not! Informal assessments start here, on the first day of school!!
Here is a script for introducing mirrors to your class:
Teacher: Class! Class! Class!
Students: Yes! Yes! Yes! (Reminder: Students should fold hands quickly and look at you intensely! I call it Laser Eyes! Remember, use your Scoreboard!)
Teacher: When I say Mirror Words, you say Mirror Words and pick up your hands like me. Mirror Words! (Your hands should go up quickly with palms facing forward.)
Students: Mirror Words (Students raise hands with palms facing forward.)
Teacher: That was pretty good, but you need to go faster! We don’t waste any time in 2nd grade! Mirror Words!
Students: Mirror Words! (Students raise hands fast this time!)
Teacher: Great job! Mighty Oh, Yeah! (Mark the Scoreboard with a tally on the Smilie side to reinforce their response.)
Students: Students clap quickly and call out, Oh, Yeah!
Teacher: When I say Mirror Words, you say Mirror Words and raise your hands quickly. Whatever I say, repeat back. However I move my hands and arms, move your hands and arms the same. Mirror Words! (Quickly raise your hands, palms forward.)
Students: Mirror Words! (Students repeat and quickly raise hands, palms forward.)
Teacher: Today is (Sweep your arms wide with lots of energy. This is not only more FUN, but it gets everyone engaged in your energy!)
Students: Today is (Students repeat and sweep their arms wide.)
Teacher: the first day of second grade. (Hold out one finger and then switch to two fingers out.)
Students: the first day of second grade. (Students repeat and hold out one finger and then switch to two fingers out.)
Teacher: I am so glad (Pat your hand rapidly on your heart!)
Students: I am so glad (Students repeat and pat their hand rapidly on their heart!)
Teacher: that we (Circle your hand towards them and back to yourself, dramatically.)
Students: that we (Students repeat and circle their hand towards you and back to themselves, dramatically.)
Teacher: will be learning together this year! (Touch your fingers to your brain and massage it!)
Students: will be learning together this year! (Students repeat and touch their fingers to their brain and massage it!)
Teacher: Mirrors off! (Drop your hands and fold them together so they can see what you did.)
Students: Mirrors off! (Students repeat, drop their hands and fold them together.)
Note: ‘Mirrors off’ will signal the end to this activity. Students’ hands are folded and their eyes are looking at you! Oh, yeah!
Coach B says, “Your kids will magically repeat after you and imitate your gestures. You now have everyone’s mirror neurons locked into yours. 100% STUDENT ENGAGEMENT!”
Here are some Video Resources to see how to introduce Mirror Words to your students, and to see students in action:

2nd Gr:  Classroom Tour (Check at Minute 13:52)  https://youtu.be/kInK14Swh-s
2nd Gr: 2nd Grade Reading https://youtu.be/G6qXPSDdYE0

2nd Gr: Brainies in 2nd Grade https://youtu.be/ENJEHd4DB68

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WBT Wednesday Blab and Blog Link Premiere

BIG WBT FUNTRICITY NEWS!! The WBT Wednesday Blab Series officially starts TODAY!!!  Wednesday, 9/23/15, at 6pm CST! Subscribe now!!

WBTWed2 (1)

Also, anyone with a blog is welcome to participate in our blog link up starting this Wednesday! Simply write your blog post on The Attention Getter & The Focuser (how you use it, have you used it?, how does it work, what variations do you use, etc). Then visit Heidi Martin's blog Wednesday morning to link up! 
www.droppinknowledge.com SHARE this news far and wide!!

Bring a friend and get your year ENERGIZED!!  Each week is a new topic and an Open Chat with WBT Executive Board Members and WBT Staff!  Can’t make the scheduled time?  Don’t fret, it will be recorded for you to watch later!  Hope to see you there each Wednesday!!  Oh, yeah!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Periscopes and Whole Brain Teachers United

If you haven't checked out Periscope yet, this is a great week to get started! Periscope is a live broadcasting app that teachers all across the world are using to share ideas.


Here is this week's schedule of upcoming Scopes from several WBT Executive Board Members for you to participate in! The times listed are all Central Time Zone. I will be broadcasting this Thursday 7/30 about how to get your year started with WBT in 2nd grade! Wahooo!! (Twitter and Periscope @NancyStoltenber) Please come!!! Please share this post!!!!

Tuesday 7/28/15
9am The Lesson Sketch and Microlectures (Sarah)
3pm Chapter 6 Class Yes in Upper Grades (Sarah)
8pm Chapter 9 Teach Okay (Farrah)

Thursday 7/30/15
1pm The Super Improver League for Upper Grades (Sarah)
7pm 2nd Grade Start of Year (Nancy)

Friday 7/31/15
Time TBD Upper Grades WBT (Andre)
8pm Chapter 10 Teach Okay (Farrah)

Impromptu broadcasts will also occur! Follow each Exec Board Member so you don't miss a single one!

Each broadcast can be viewed on a mobile device or computer for up to 24 hours after the broadcast has ended. If you have a mobile device, download the Periscope app on iOS or Google Play to receive a notification when a broadcast is starting! If you don't have the Periscope app, you can find the link to each broadcast on Twitter.to

Since Periscope is connected with Twitter, you can follow each Exec Board member through either app. Simply click the links below to go to their Twitter page and click "Follow", or search each name in the Periscope app.

Chris Biffle on Twitter and Periscope @ChrisBiffle

Kinder-2nd Grade
Andrea Schindler on Periscope @littlerocket
Farrah Shipley on Twitter and Periscope @MrsShipleyWBT
Nancy Stoltenberg on Twitter and Periscope @NancyStoltenber

3rd Grade - 5th Grade
Chris Rekstad on Twitter and Periscope @WBTChrisRekstad
Jasselle Cirino on Twitter and Periscope @JasselleCirino
Kate Bowski on Twitter and Periscope @KateBowski

Middle School - High School
Sarah Meador on Twitter and Periscope @MeadorScience
Andre Deshotel on Twitter and Periscope @WBTandre
Jeff Battle on Twitter and Periscope @Jeff_Battle

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

WBT Writing…All Year Long …and Beyond!

Teaching children how to write is challenging, but writing orally and in print daily makes all the difference!  When I introduced the WBT Writing methods, I found it made a huge change in my style of teaching and in the results of all my students, which included RSP and EL (English Learners)!

Here is the writing schedule I use in a 2nd grade classroom.  Don’t hesitate to contact me with questions!!  I have included lots of links in the orange highlighted terms!  Click away!!

Aug-Sep  They started the year with daily Genius Ladder sentence building on the first 2 rungs.  Many of my students had to learn specifically what a noun and a verb are, and of course, what a sentence is.  We honed in on the Power Pix for these 3 concepts right away, and revisit them often in the daily morning Power Pix Wall practice

As they became more proficient with the Oral Writing of the sentence, we moved into the Extender Rung.  It was very important to be introducing the Brainies along with this.  image

When we got to the Extender, the Super Speed Grammar practice was a great support to understanding how to build more detailed sentences.  Also, because they are 2nd graders, I had started the practice of having them write the Genius Sentence in a Journal they keep in their desk. 

Sep-Oct I found as I moved up, I was continually reviewing the basics of the Blah/Spicy.  This allowed me to set up a frame on the board for independent seat work.  This was great for learners at all levels. It was also a great way for me to assess individual progress.  They were, and still are, required to read their sentences back to themselves using gestures, including Brainy gestures, as they edit/add on to the sentence(s) they have created.  (Red Green Proofreading is part of this also).

I moved into the Triple Whammy frame, and did a lot of Oral Writing practice.  We started very simple, as shown in The Writing Game download.  Again, the Brainies are big here.  Just like the original Genius Ladder, the beginning Triple Whammy frame was rather blah/simple.  These became more elaborate with practice.  Coach's webcast #589 on this subject is excellent!  They worked with a partner and created several Triple Whammy sentences from a list of topics. Using a Who, What, Why, Where, When question on a topic, students created an appropriate Triple Whammy response, thus creating a Topic Sentence.

Oct-Dec  With the experience of creating lots of Triple Whammy topic sentences, it was an easy transition to move on to the Micro-essay.  I used a color coded cue system on the board to help students get a format going. I leave this up on my board.  I find my higher learners grasp the pattern fairly quickly and don't need the visual as much as the slower learners.  Look at webcast #589 again.  Here is how I set mine up.  I indent my model on the board, and we use the Brainy, "New Paragraph" and gesture, when we start to read the paragraph. To help students avoid "getting stuck" with the problem of creating different sentence starters each time, I initially start with the ordinal transition words.  Later, I will move them into choosing their own sentence starters.

     ______________________  ______________, ______________, and

_________________First, __________________because_______________

_______. Second, _________________________  because _______________

__________________________. Finally, ________________________________

because ___________________________. In conclusion,  __________ ___________,

_____________, and ______________________.

We use this pattern every day, initially as Oral Writing, and then as print together, and finally as independent seat work. Based on your students' progress, you will decide when to move to the next level.  

The next step, was to put an Adder/Extender sentence with each of the color coded sentences.  By then, they had had lots of experience with the Brainies. Now the cue system looked like this on the board (Note: each Adder is expected to be different within the paragraph):

     ______________________  ______________, ______________, and

_________________First, __________________because_______________

_______.  Adder Second, _________________________  because _______________

__________________________.  Adder  Finally, ________________________________

because ___________________________.  Adder  In conclusion,  __________ ___________,

_____________, and ______________________.

Dec-June  Now we move to the 5 paragraph essay!  Now the cue system has changed to this:

   ______________________  ______________, ______________, and


    First, __________________because_______________

_______.  Adder

   Second, _________________________  because _______________

__________________________.  Adder

   Finally, ________________________________

because ___________________________.  Adder

    In conclusion,  __________ ___________,

_____________, and ______________________.

When I first go to the multi-paragraph format, my students learned that each time the color changed, they had to "Drop and Shove! New Paragraph!"  They literally would drop their body down a little and shove their hand across their body to emphasize the format change of the essay.  They love the FUN of this! 

We stick with this for a couple of weeks and then it changes.  They are now expected to write a total of 3 sentences in each paragraph...2 Adders. Each Adder had to be different.  They have a Brainy cue card on their desks to help them with variety.

  ______________________  ______________, ______________, and


   First, __________________because_______________

_______.  Adder Adder

    Second, _________________________  because _______________

__________________________.  Adder Adder

    Finally, ________________________________

because ___________________________.  Adder Adder

    In conclusion,  __________ ___________,

_____________, and ______________________.

(This is also the format you will be using as you begin Competition Brainies in your class.)

One element is different for me.  In my district, because we are using district writing guidelines, I had to change up the last paragraph.  My paragraph does not restate the 3 Whammies, but is a statement of reflection about the topic instead.  It looks like this:

     In conclusion, I think _____________________________________________.  I learned _________________________________________________________.

In my classroom, there is a question on the board every morning for them to respond to.  When I tell them the question (which is based on a story, science, social studies, whatever is current in your lesson plans) I say it, then say Mirror Words, and they do it with me.  I then have them turn to their partner in a Teach Okay set and talk about some possible answers to the question.  I use Uh, oh Switch! to give both partners a chance to orally participate in this discussion. (By doing this, students have a chance to get some ideas to help get their writing started...especially important for slower learners!)  I call them back with Class!  The next step is to ask them to decide what the Target words are in the question that they will need to use in their Triple Whammy topic sentence.  They just call out the main vocabulary words, and I underline them with a blue line.  For example:

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving?  I would underline family, celebrate, and Thanksgiving.  They would be expected to write something similar to:  My family celebrates Thanksgiving by ______, _________, and ___________.  They would then proceed with the 5 paragraph essay format shown above.  They are reminded that when they finish, they are to reread with gestures (Brainies included) and edit as needed.

What is really great about this basic format, you can adapt it to any writing assignment!  They become very fluid in their writing, and you can easily move into more complex sentences.  Electronic SuperSpeed Grammar is used at least twice a week(more often at the beginning of the year). 

Hope this helps get you started on Day One, which will be here soon!  Watch for some writing samples to show you the difference WBT Writing can make with your students!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

It’s Never Too Early…

Yes, I know school just got out for summer for most of us, so the thought of preparing your classroom is a distant thought!  Then why am I already getting so many school supply catalogs in the mail?!!  If you would like to get the latest and greatest new resource from Whole Brain Teaching, you need to hit this link:
Coach B has done it again!  Not only does this book give you updates on the original WBT techniques, it offers you over 100 learning games to highlight critical thinking skills and heighten student engagement in your lessons.  Biggest news of all…it just hit #1 Common Core Selection on Amazon!  Oh, yeah!!