Sunday, December 16, 2012
Sunday, November 25, 2012
At this special time of year, as we offer thanks for all our blessings, I would like to share a recent experience at my school. On November 13th, my best friend and fellow 2nd grade WBT teacher arrived at school at 6:30 am to discover her classroom had been destroyed by vandals over the Veterans Day holiday weekend. She was devastated by what she found!
To begin with, Robin’s room is a wealth of material accumulated and created by a 30+ year career in teaching young children. In the last three years, she has also transformed it into a model classroom for Whole Brain Teaching. Her students benefit from her amazing talents everyday!
At this time of year, our school collects food cans for the less fortunate to be put into baskets for Thanksgiving meals. Many of the recipients come from our own school population. Robin’s class had also been collecting money for the Student Council for evergreen wreaths to be laid on Veterans’ graves the first week in December. Her students had responded generously to both causes, even though it’s a sacrifice to do so.
When Robin entered her room that morning, she discovered that every inch from floor to ceiling had been covered by the contents of all those collected cans of food. In addition, vile words and pictures covered walls and ceiling tiles. Her computers were thrown about, along with the classroom projector she had recently purchased when the school funds did not allow for replacing her old one. Every cord to any machine had been cut and destroyed. Every student piece of posted work had also been destroyed by the food or from being ripped down. The classroom sink had been plugged and allowed to run for some time, evident from large pools of water still standing in the room. Every teacher gift mug she had received and set out for display had been smashed and shattered across desk tops and carpet. Even her own family pictures had been drawn on. After the police came to investigate and test for fingerprints, Robin was allowed to re-enter the room and learn that at some time during the vandalism, her personal collection of children’s books, over 800 books, had been urinated on and covered with food juices. The shock and hurt to Robin was about more than the value of these lost items, but about the memories of all her students through the years reading page by page to find out, “what happens next!”
When Robin’s students arrived for class about an hour after she found this, she went into teacher mode to shelter them from this vision. She was given an empty portable outfitted only in large 6th grade desks. We quickly put supplies together collected from other classrooms. She started her day with her normal, “Class!”, and was answered back with a hearty, “Yes!” Student engagement and learning were off and running despite the circumstances!
Lots of questions that day from students wondering why their friends in that class had changed rooms. When we explained in subtle terms that some very unkind people had ruined the classroom and books with the collected food, and yes, had taken the money collected for the Veterans, the looks of shock and dismay were heartfelt!
So now for the special part of this whole tragic story, I need to explain what happened the next two days before we left for Thanksgiving Break. If you have ever had the opportunity to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, remember back to the ending when all the town’s residents showed up with gifts. That’s exactly what happened at our school! Students from across the school brought in bags of canned food, children’s books they had taken from their own shelves at home, and dollar bills for new Veteran wreaths. Word spread to schools across the district and book drives were initiated! Robin’s previous students that had moved on to middle and high school set up collections at their sites!
My very humble friend was overwhelmed by the immediate responses of caring and generosity shown to her and her class! She will not get back into her classroom for awhile, but when she does, she knows the love of this generous and caring community will surround her students and help bring some normalcy back to their young lives.
This weekend was the infamous Black Friday weekend of shopping, but all I could think of was the heartfelt generosity of an economically challenged population, who gave from their hearts to a very special teacher and her 30 very innocent children! Life is good!
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Student engagement is one vital puzzle piece in enhancing the education of the individual child. Educators need to seize those moments of engagement and, within a stimulating and well-planned learning environment, address the development of the child’s ability to think critically.
Developing a child’s ability to think critically and problem solve in a variety of situations must be recognized as a life long journey, beginning very early in life. Whole Brain Teaching theory and practice acknowledges that and offers an intense program leading to increased student engagement and ultimately higher levels of critical thinking skills.
Two specific techniques offered to teachers by WBT for critical thinking development is the use of oral and written language within informal and formal settings. The traditional classroom has accepted the quick question and simple one word answers as satisfactory. Unfortunately, answers as such stop there and never call upon the child to support the given answer. Welcome the Cosmic Genius Ladder courtesy of Coach Chris Biffle and Whole Brain Teaching! (WBT Video Library #538) In this arena, students are taught and given continuous practice in answering questions individually and in “choral” with the class, with complete sentence answers beginning with the subject addressed and the answer to the question.
For example, “Why did Bob go home after the ballgame?” “After the ballgame, Bob went home.”
The next level is Critical Thinking. Using the same method of question and answer, the student/class extends the answer with evidence.
“TO THINK CRITICALLY YOU MUST TELL
STRONG EVIDENCE FROM WEAK
EVIDENCE, WHICH MEANS YOU HAVE TO
THINK CRITICALLY ABOUT YOUR CRITICAL
THINKING!” Chris Biffle
“Bob went home after the ballgame because (Pitty-Pat Clapper) he wanted to.” This answer is an example of weak evidence.
“Bob went home after the ballgame because (Because Clapper) he had to finish his math homework for school.” This answer is an example of strong evidence.
This is a student created sample from my 2nd grade class written independently after many various sessions of oral practice with the Genius Ladder and Cosmic Ladder format.
The expectation of producing strong evidence in response to questions is becoming more automatic in my classroom with each day. As an instructor, it is our responsibility to “set the bar” for our students. Who will if we don’t?
Monday, September 24, 2012
My class is a shining group of WBT Stars! Rules are now being led every day by distinguished Class Leaders. The Scoreboard is in full operation, complemented by the Super Improvers Team! We no longer have just white cards reflecting Level One. There are now pops of red cards showing here and there for Level Two! There was major celebrating the day that first student earned the 10th star. Completed Level Cards are always sent home for the Family Celebration, followed by the “refrigerator posting”.
Procedures with 3peats can be heard throughout the day…Line, line, line!, Papers, papers, papers!, Page 136, page 136, page 136! Breaking our time record is a daily goal! The Scoreboard is a great source of inspiration here, as students know they have to get more smilies than frownies by the end of the day in order to earn that extra minute of Mind Soccer!
Having a strong WBT classroom management plan in place can only lead to one place! That’s right, it’s Teacher Heaven in Room 4! Enjoy the brilliant colors of Fall!
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Every year, within a few days of school starting, most schools hold the traditional Back To School Night. Parents come to meet their child’s teacher and hear an overview of the new school year. At my school, there are often many children in attendance with their parents. This is usually because of child care, and sometimes because the child is the translator for the parent.
My 2nd grade team of four teachers started making this event a team presentation a few years ago, with all our parents in attendance in the same room. Our goals have been to educate the parents to grade level expectations, district and state mandates, and general school information.
Three years ago, Whole Brain Teaching entered the second grade classrooms of my school! Back To School Night has not looked the same since! Parents come in prepared for a “typical” listen to a short teacher spiel, grab a handout, and move onto the sibling’s classroom talk! They’ve just come from work, soccer practice, etc. Needless to say, they are weary and just want to check off the yearly “obligation box”!
Now, to better illustrate what’s coming, I need to back up to the first day of school. If this is the first time to my blog, please read the post prior to this one, where I describe introducing students to Whole Brain Teaching. By the time our school hosts Back To School night, our students have had five full days of instruction, rules, and procedures using WBT techniques. On the day of the parent event, each of the team teachers explains to her students that if they attend that evening, they might be called on to demonstrate what they have been doing in school so far.
Picture a packed cafeteria of parents, grandparents, children, siblings and the general loud echoes of voices bouncing off the bare walls.
“Class! Class!” “Yes! Yes!” “Classity, class!” “Yesity, yes!”
The 2nd grade students’ voices swell in unison, like a well oiled machine, from every corner in the room! And then there is silence! Oh, yeah! Parents are stunned, and students are beaming!
“Bodies, up!” “Bodies, up! Up! Up!” Every 2nd grade student is now standing! You can still hear a pin drop! “Line!” “Line! Line! Line!” The students make their way from their positions near family to the front of the room!
With almost 80 students now standing up front facing the audience, we start the presentation of the 5 Rules! What a chorus line! And then, the roar of applause and whistles fill the room! What a moment of celebration!
“Seat!” “Seat! Seat! Seat!” The students quickly and quietly return to their places in the audience. Let the teacher presentation begin!
The power of that quick student performance cemented the strength of the second grade team by showing the parents that our teachers and students, and now parents, will work as a team to reach the same goal…a fantastic education for the children based on state, district, and school site standards and expectations!
Each teacher then proceeds to explain a portion of the 2nd grade plan, and the use of Whole Brain Teaching to reinforce and individualize the instruction for each child. Not one parent left the assembly early, and the handouts were sought out!
The school year has now officially begun! First Hour! First Day! First Parent Team Meeting! It’s going to be a great year! No “bench warmers” in this crowd! Oh, yeah!
Sunday, August 12, 2012
This is my third year starting the school year with WBT, but this has to be the best one ever! I have an amazing group of 2nd graders, who very eagerly responded to my first direction of the day, “When I say Class, you say Yes! Class!” “Yes!” “However I say Class, you say Yes. Classity Class!” “Yesity Yes!” Love, love, love that command! It never fails to get your group together!
Coach B recently presented webcasts on the First Hour and the First Day. (See the WBT Video Library #532 and #533) Using the suggested schedule for the day, I organized my presentation accordingly. I loved the flexibility it gave me to adjust it to my school’s schedule that day too!
I posted this list on my board for the students to see as they walked in. Not only did the schedule keep me on target throughout the day, it kept the interest of my students up. This schedule contained terms that were brand new to them. They quickly found that just learning a rule also required participation with gestures and lots of repetition!
Rule #1, “Follow directions quickly!” was introduced and practiced several times then, and often through the day. Teaching procedures using 3peat, involved the repetition of this rule several times. Setting your expectations is very important that first hour and day! We repeatedly used “Seats, Seats, Seats”, “Bodies up, up, up”, and “Lines, lines, lines” during the day.
By introducing the Scoreboard, and emphasizing that the students in my class work as a team to support each other, student participation went even higher! Smilies were not easily given, which made students work very hard to earn them. They had to learn how to “wait for it” before giving a quick clap of hands with an, “Oh, yeah!” after I made the tally mark. When I gave a Frownie, “Hug those ears!” meant a very quick “Uh!”, as they raised their shoulders up to their ears. Note, Smilies can be earned as a result of even one student’s special efforts, but a Frownie may only be given for a Team mistake, not an individual error.
Coach B’s new Name Game was not only fantastic for learning my students’ names quickly, it was a great way to set my expectations for getting students to answer questions with complete sentences!
When I asked, “What is your name?”, I modeled how I expected them to answer. “My name is …” Since I expect “college talk” in my class this year, we get the ball rolling with the expectation of answering in complete sentences the first day!
After lunch, we worked on the other 4 Rules, and I introduced Teach/Okay and then Mirror to model and reinforce the new procedures. Modeling the right and wrong way is especially important to demonstrate your expectations also! With these “tools” in their back pockets it was time for a Fun Burst!
The Fun Burst in the afternoon was especially effective in helping students release some energy, while also keeping the learning mode intact! As Coach B states in the slide above, the Class/Yes is a must for instant control!
Oral Writing was the finale of the day. We worked on Blah and Spicy sentences! I used a frame sentence, “The dog is big.” Students, working with their partner, came up with as many words as they could to replace dog. I was able to incorporate Teach/Okay into this activity since they had used it earlier with the rules. For Spicy, we switched to, “The brown dog is nice.” Again, students worked with their partner to replace the word brown with as many words as they could. Working with a partner encourages participation from everyone, especially children who are not comfortable sharing with the whole class yet.
“Backpacks! Backpacks! Backpacks!” Off to waiting parents with lots of experiences to share about the first day! Oh, yeah!!!
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
On Monday, the school year began with the presentation of the Keys to The Classroom! Well, actually, it was just a matter of signing a district form and getting my keys back from our awesome secretary! This is my 27th Key Signing! I have to say, no matter what number it is, the same feelings of anticipation and excitement swelled up this year as they did so many years ago!
Turn the key, step in, and voila!
The “blank canvas” of the classroom can be a little daunting at first! Where to begin?! That “take a deep breath” feeling eased up a lot 3 years ago when I made the plunge into Whole Brain Teaching! Yes, I still haunt the local teacher store, dollar store, etc. for great deals on supplies. I joined TPT and TN this year too! The big difference now is that my walls aren’t just meant for eye-catching posters and decorator apples!
The elements of a WBT classroom allow for the creative style of individual teachers, but the five most important elements that go up first are the Super Improvers Wall, the Power Pix grid wall, the Genius Ladder, the 5 Rules, and the Scoreboard.
Super Improvers Wall
The Super Improvers Wall is the “heart” of my room! There are so many great tools in WBT for classroom management, and the Super Improvers Wall is an amazing way to reach ALL students! I remind them that the only person they are competing with is themself, and I will be watching to see how each is growing and improving. There are 10 levels, each labeled with a different dinosaur. The T-rex is the ultimate level, of course! Check out the Video Library #503 at WBT for a more detailed explanation.
Power Pix Grid Wall
The Power Pix grid wall is one of the most interactive tools in my classroom! It is a work in progress as students are taught core standards. This will be used daily to ensure all students are not only introduced to the standards, but are able to internalize them using critical thinking skills. View #529 in the WBT Video Library, and see my previous post regarding Power Pix.
The Genius Ladder
The Genius Ladder is a model for creating oral and written language. Students work from the bottom of the ladder, simpler sentences, to the top of the ladder, a paragraph. Check out The Writing Game, a free Ebook at WBT and #504 in the WBT Video Library
The 5 Rules
The 5 Rules are the “cover all your bases” rules! These rules are practiced orally with gestures EVERY day! Initially, I practice them at least three times a day. A complete set may be purchased at the WBT store. Go to the WBT Video Library #515 for information.
The Scoreboard is the Motivator in WBT! It is used to reinforce positive behavior throughout the day in an energetic and fun environment! My scoreboard is drawn on my whiteboard very simply each day. See the WBT Video Library #517.
With my five WBT elements in place, I move to desk arrangement. I have found that keeping my desks in groups of two facilitates Teach/Okay. Students do not have to decide partners, and they have already been told if they are a One or a Two. This placement also allows me to move between students easily while they teach one another.
Now, on to the posters and decorator apples! Oh yeah! To be continued…
Friday, July 13, 2012
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 to be labeled Core Standards. 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). 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.
There is no limit to how you can incorporate the Power Pix into that pacing plan! Now when you come to that state testing period, and have to cover up or remove any instructional materials from view, your students will be ready! Step back and enjoy the view of your students gesturing as they work through the test! Teacher Heaven!!.
The Power Pix are a free Ebook download at the WBT site. They have been made for K-3, but many are appropriate for other grade levels. Check the WBT forum for teachers who are currently constructing templates to create their own Power Pix.
Monday, July 9, 2012
Here are the rules for this award:
2. Include a link to their site.
3. Include the award image in your post.
4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
6. When nominating, include a link to their site.
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.
Okay, seven random facts about myself...
1. I have taught for 26 years, with the last 15 in 2nd grade.
2. I love traveling to new places with special friends!
3. WBT has opened new, exciting doors in education for me.
4. I have two amazing grandchildren!
5. I LOVE coffee!!
6. I think, okay I know, I'm addicted to Pinterest!
7. Love, love, love meeting new people!
Here are some amazing bloggers I'm sending this award to. You have to stop by and say, "Hello" for me!!
1. Down Under Teacher
2. EduKate with Whole Brain
3. Joy Button's Amazing Journey with WBT
4. Mrs. Slatton's Kindergarten
6. 2nd Grade Pig Pen
7. Musical Musings with Mrs. Lukow
8. Whole Brain Paradise
10. Welcome to the ELL Jungle
11. Shepherd's Shining Stars
12. Southern Teacher WBT
13. PAWSitively Wild For WBT
14. Whole Brain with Roxi
15. The Tattooed Teacher
A big thanks to Farrah again!! Have a great Monday!!
Sunday, July 8, 2012
To meet grade level teammates live, join Nancy Stoltenberg, Director of WBT Certification, this Tuesday, July 10 for a special, text only, electronic get together atWholeBrainTeaching.com.
July 10, 2012
5 PM Western
6 PM Mountain
7 PM Central
8 PM Eastern
Chris “Coach B” Biffle
If you haven't heard, the new WBT Grade Level Facebook pages are going strong! Run on over and check them out! Bring your friends too!
Pick your grade level and join a WBT Facebook team!
I look forward to TALKING with you all soon!
Saturday, June 30, 2012
1. Follow the person that gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person that gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.
Here's who I'm passing the award to. Please make sure to stop by their blogs!
- Laura's WBT Journey
- Fabulous Firsties
- EduKate With Whole Brain
- WBT In The Middle
- PAWSitively Wild for WBT
- Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching
- Mrs. Smith's First Grade Class
- Whole Brain Paradise
- Think, Wonder, & Teach
- History Teacher WBT
- Joyful One
- WBT With Scrapbunny
- Southern Teacher WBT
- EduKate & Inspire
- My Whole Brain Teaching Blog
Friday, June 29, 2012
“Knowing there are people in the world who want success for you and are willing to help you even though they don’t know you changes your future and makes anything seem achievable.”- Kendra Kavan
Whole Brain Teaching, led by Coach Chris Biffle, is an amazing collaboration of educators from around the world who step up daily to offer and seek advice on how to be the very best in their profession. There are currently over 66,700 registered members and many, many guests!
WBT is a treasure trove of FREE E-books, Videos, Live and Archived webcasts, and of course, the invaluable Forum. Check the Calendar of WBT Upcoming Events. Coach B is on a summer, whirlwind tour of the USA presenting outstanding, energetic, and always free WBT Conferences!
It’s so exciting to see how many of you are participating or considering the WBT Certification Program! An explanation of the process is on this page. Let me know if you have any questions at NancyStoltenberg@WholeBrainTeaching.com. Kate Bowski, Assistant Director of WBT Certification, is also ready to help at KateBowski@WholeBrainTeaching.com. Please note, there is no deadline to starting or finishing the program! Check the Whole Brain Teaching Facebook page. Coach B is working on forming grade level teams!
The WBT site is a great place to meet and greet some of the finest educators from around the world! So great that you’re here today reading this! Welcome!
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
- Farrah at Mrs. Shipley's Fabulous Firsties Farrah has invaluable WBT materials that will motivate all educators to "step up their game"!
- Deb at Joyful One Deb will inspire you with her insight and great videos!
- Miss L at Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching Miss L's blog is a TROVE of current educational information!
- Pinetreelia at My Whole Brain Teaching Blog Pinetreelia shares awesome materials on her blog to illustrate the Power of Whole Brain Teaching!
- Laura at Laura's WBT Journey Laura has been an Intern for WBT this year and shares her personal thoughts and experiences!
Sunday, May 27, 2012
WBT teachers are an amazing group of educators from around the World who don't know how to STOP hitting the WACKY FUN STAR BUTTON...even after the ROOM KEYS are turned in! No matter where you travel this summer, WBT teachers are as close to you as your Smart Phone or Computer!
Summer WBT Educator Collaboration may mean attending an AMAZING WBT Conference or participating in a High Energy LIVE WEBINAR broadcast on the WBT site every Tuesday (see schedule of times for your Time Zone). If you're not able to do that, remember to STAY TIGHT with the WBT Forum! It's LIT UP right now with amazing posts of WBT experiences from around the world! The Video Library is packed with archived Webinars loaded with invaluable guides to using WBT...and it's FREE! Hit that WACKY FUN STAR BUTTON again!!
If you are interested in becoming a WBT BOARD CERTIFIED EDUCATOR, be sure to TAP the TROPHY on my Blog, or on the website, www.wholebrainteaching. You earn it at YOUR OWN SPEED!!! Check it out, and let me know how I can help you earn those CP'S (Certification Points). Coach has created the Coolest Certification Point Medallions ever! Get yours now!!
SUMMER: Shorts, Sandals, Sun Screen, BBQ's, and WBT!!!! Can it get any better?! Hit that WACKY FUN STAR BUTTON for the BEST time ever!!
PER ASPERA AD ASTRA (Despite Hardships...To The Stars)
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Testing is done!!!!! Seems like we all just ran a marathon...but with the best time ever!! I am so proud of each student's efforts to do his/her best!! Yes, tears of joy!! I can not stress enough the importance of starting testing strategies at the beginning of the year! Get the Power Pix up and practice them daily!! Super Improvers Wall is mandatory!! I don't know my scores yet, but I know my class is All Winners!!
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
For an extended explanation of Testing Strategies, go to www.wholebrainteaching.com and check out #521 State Test Prep in the Video Library.