Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Moving to a new blog

Hi Everyone, 
I have created a new blog that is specific to Whole Brain Teaching and open to all viewers, not just Grandville Public schools.  Please visit my new blog and follow me!

See you there!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Are we having FUN????

It is hard to believe we are a quarter of the way into the school year!  Now is a great time to step back and evaluate how the WBT strategies are working for you and your class!  Here are some questions to ask yourself and your students!

1.  Are we having FUN??  Yes, you should be having fun teaching and your kids should be having fun!  The use of class yes, mirror words, scoreboard, and teach okay are designed to bring FUN to your teaching and the students' learning.  Remember to add variety to your voice or words to keep things interesting.   If you are barking CLASS CLASS all the time chances are, NO ONE is having FUN!

2.  Are students ENGAGED?  At this point you should have buy in from MOST of your students.  Of course some days you need to use scoreboard to "practice" engagement because the kids are zoned out, but overall the kids should be excited to engage in lessons. 

3. Are you gaining confidence?  As you practice using WBT strategies they will become easier and more automatic.  You should begin to see how you can use WBT in all areas of your teaching.  I was more comfortable using WBT in my Science and Math before I was ELA, hang in there it will come!

4.  Are you ready to add something else?  Maybe you are sticking to Class Yes and Scoreboard, now would be a great time to do more with mirror words.   Using Power pix and Brainies to give structure to your gestures is a great next step if you are using mirror words.  
5.  What is not working?  I would love to help you if there are things that are not working for you.  Please email me or call me if you have any questions or need some guidance.  

Remember the online book study is available all school year and we will have PD and learning labs available starting in January.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Using Teach Okay!

Teach Okay is my LIFESAVER!

It is one of those years, my class would talk ALL day if they could.  They all have opinions and want to share ALL the time!  I also have those students that don't seem to be listening at times.  My solution?  Teach Okay!

Using Teach Okay
Teach Okay can be used all day in all content!  The key to Teach OK is to give information in short chunks then have students turn and repeat the information.  I follow the WBT lesson design format below and it keeps students engaged the whole lesson.

1.  Content Question:  The question today is, What is ___?   (Think objective, learning target, etc)
      Teach OK:  Students turn to partner and share the question.

2.  The answer:  The content or objective you want students to learn.  This may be a simple sentence or a series fo sentences for more content.  Ex.  A cylinder is a 3d shape with a circle at both ends.
       Teach OK:  Student turn and share the answer.

3.  Examples and Expansion:  This is were you will expand to give all the information that you want students to learn and give examples.  You should start simple and increase content complexity to increase critical thinking.  It is important to teach the material in small chunks and then do teach okay.  

4.  Students give examples to each other using teach okay.

Variations:  Predict, Summarize, Anaylze, etc
In order to increase my students critical thinking skills I teach them the critical thinking skills of predict, summarize, analyze etc.  Then instead of teach I will use one of those words.  An easy way to teach this is during read aloud.  I start with predict.  While reading a read aloud, we will stop to do "predict okay."  This is where it is a lifesaver.  My students love getting to share and get that opportunity multiple times without having to wait for a turn.  You can use summarize, analyze, etc in place of teach when that is the goal of your lesson!

Here is a great video by WBT staff member Kate Bowski.  It is brief but gives great ideas for how to get started using Teach Ok and how to keep it exciting for your students!

You can also check out pages 27-29 of 122 Amazing Games or Chapters 8-10 of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids

Monday, October 12, 2015

Problem solving, Mirror Words, and Brainies

We are nearly 6 weeks into the school year!  Hopefully you are feeling more confident using the classroom rules, class yes and scoreboard.  Be sure you keep practicing those rules EVERYDAY! 

 When you have a few kids consistently breaking a rule you need to spend extra time practicing the wrong way right way as a class.  Use your leaders to model wrong way right way then have your class do it.

If you are not using Super Improver yet, you may want to consider it as a way to increase better behavior.  You can use one of the rules as your goal for improvement.  

If you are only using a few WBT strategies, use your judgement for consequences for inappropriate behavior.  I have some students who BIG TIME break rules so they may need to be removed from the group, have a longer "time out" during playtime / recess, etc.

I will be blogging more about the Super Improver next week.

I LOVE Mirror Words.  I am not sure if anything works better for keeping my students engaged and out of trouble during any whole class or small group activity.    

Don't let the idea that you must use "the right" gestures keep you from trying mirror words.  You can use casual gestures which are literally made up.  Just go with what makes sense to you.  Ask the kids to help you if this is way out of your comfort zone.  Mirror words can be used in any lesson, project, or just teaching students a routine.  Right now my students are working on geometric shapes and the concepts of lines, corners, faces, etc.   Using gestures to describe these shapes has made all the difference in their retention.  

Think of gestures to go with vocabulary words that are new to your students.  

The Brainy game and gestures have completely transformed my students understanding of grammar, and has greatly increased their oral and written language skills.  Their ability to use the critical thinking aspects of the brainy game with BLOW your mind.  
PLEASE take a few minutes to watch Farrah Shipley's 1st grade students using the brainies to create an oral paragraph.  IF you teach upper el, I guarantee this will BLOW YOUR MIND!

I highly recommend that you download and print WBT Brainy Game and  Brainy Posters

 Brainy Game                                   Brainy Posters

Friday, October 2, 2015

WBT and other programs...

How does WBT work with....

I have had a number of people ask how WBT works with other classroom and behavior management programs that have been or are being used in the district.  That is a GREAT question!  I know in my years here I have seen many programs come and go, and to be honest I still uses pieces from a lot of them .  I will try to address two of the programs that are currently used or have been used in the past.

PBIS Positive Behavior Intervention Supports
Great news!  Whole brain teaching makes PBIS even BETTER!  The main features of Tier 1 of PBIS blend perfectly with the basic tools of WBT.  

1.  Define Expections:  Most schools have 3-5 expections in all settings.  You can use the 5 rules to EXPLICITLY teach what those expectations are (Your expectations will easily fit into the 5 rules) and what they look like.   As you are likely aware, we post the expectations and talk about them at the beginning of the year.  The problem is that we don't revisit them OFTEN!  In WBT you will use the rules to teach those PBIS expections EVERY DAY!  Teachers should be going over the class rules a minimum of 3x per day.  It should not take more than 1 minute!  

2. Teach/ Pre-correct:  Using the rule cues such as "Uh Oh rule 2" you are reminding all students of the expection and allowing them to fix / correct any behaviors.  You don't have to call out a student, just say the rule.  

3.  Model / Practice:  In WBT we use Wrong way / Right way to practice the rules.  We do this when we teach expectations and anytime that you notice your classroom behavior slipping.  First practice the wrong way then immediately the right way.  This teaches student to see and feel what the expections look like when done correctly.  

4.  Acknowledge and Reteach:  One frustration many teachers have is the time that the gotchas and tickets take with PBIS.  Some find the rewards a bit much for simply doing what they should be doing.  In WBT you absolutely acknowledge the following of expections but you use the scoreboard as a class and super improver for individuals.  The Super Improver wall allows you to acknowledge or set goals with the whole class or individual students. 

A key difference between PBIS and WBT is that WBT is embedded in your instruction.  It is not just about behavior but about all of your instruction.

Thanks to Sarah Meador a WBT exec board member for the Scope to help me articulate all of this!

Capturing Kids Hearts
There are wonderful tools from CKH that can easily be used with whatever classroom management system you are using.  We use Class Yes instead of the "timeout" signal because it is more effective and efficient.  It can also be varied throughout the year to keep it fresh.  WBT does not believe in stopping your teaching to address a specific student unless it is ABSOLUTELY disruptive.  You say the rule, practice then move on. Talk to the student later and don't create a battle.  If you love CKH, keep using it!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Attention Getters Tips and Tricks

Hi everyone!

Thank you SO much to those of you who completed my WBT survey.  It will totally help me to focus my blog on your questions, concerns, and new things to try! 

ATTENTION GETTERS!  These are critical to keeping your students on track!  You can waste a ton of time getting your kids attention and KEEPING it!

Many of you have already started using class, yes in your classrooms!  Here are some tips to make Class, Yes the most successful attention getter EVER!

1.  Teach it!  Practice it!  EVERYDAY!  Yes we are on day 16 and yes we are still having to practice what I mean when I say class yes.   If you accept mediocre responses to class yes, that is what you will get!  In my room if I say class yes and student don't respond I say it one more time.  After that, they will get a frown on the scoreboard.  We then PRACTICE what class yes LOOKS AND SOUNDS like!  This is true in ALL grades!  I promise you it will work!

2.  Use the Scoreboard!  If you are using scoreboard in your class, use it for great responses to class yes, as well as lack luster!  The scoreboard is KEY to fine tuning behavior in your classroom.  In my room I am PICKY!  I want everyone looking RIGHT at me and NOT TOUCHING ANYTHING!  Let's be honest are they even listening to you if they are not doing that??  If you are not using scoreboard, I urge you to start!  

3.  Variety!!  Of course the kids will not think it is HILARIOUS every time you say class yes BUT if you JAZZ it up a few times a day, they will be reponding like superstars!  Here is a list of variations.  Print it and put it on your desk!  You will begin to think of your own in no time!

Class Yes Variations

4.  CLASS BOOM!  Use this for the REALLY BIG POINTS!

I use this all the time!  If you say class yes and you need to keep their attention for a period of time, say hands and eyes.  If you are in the middle of talking and don't really want them to say anything like yes, use hands and eyes!  In my room, when we are having one of "those" days, I have my students put their hands on top of their heads instead of folded.  I find that some students really struggle to STOP what they are doing for more than a second.  Putting their hands on their heads helps me spot those "sweet little rascals!

Whatever you do, DON"T GIVE UP!  I promise you that your kids, can and will be able to respond quickly and appropriately if you take the time up front to teach them exactly what you are looking for when you say, CLASS YES!

Looking for more???  Here are some videos from Coach B!
Class Yes Basics

Master Class Attention Getters

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Scoreboard Q and A

I know that many of you have started to use scoreboard and a few have emailed with some great questions.  I wanted to give you a bit more detail now that you are into it.  Keep in mind, this is your room!  I am giving advice based on what I have experienced, read, and had shared with me by those with more experience.   

Q:  I feel negative if I give frownies, how do I go about this?  
A:  Avoid putting too much negativity on it, and consider it the "honing" of skills.  I recommend putting up a frown when you see that behavior that is what you would expect of "younger" students" THEN right away stop what you are doing and practice it the RIGHT way.  Then you can give a smile for improved behavior.  Rememer the +/- 3 rule!  There should never be a HUGE discrpency between smiles and frowns.  

Q:When do they get the reward and what should it be?
A: First of all your answer right now should be BRAGGING RIGHTS!  That is it! Not a party, not a video, not extra story time, etc.  Its a LONG year.  I don't even tell my kids that there are more levels until they need it!  If I make it until November without any rewards GREAT if its earlier well then we know what kind of class it is.  

Second, once you start the level the 2nd level is a TINY reward like 1 min break, a gonoodle movement break, 1 problem off homework.  Not a BIG reward.  Don't tie something you intend to do anyway to the scoreboard.  IE Friday movie, recess etc.  If you are not willing to cancel it because they didn't win then don't do it.  

Q: How often should I be using tally marks?
A:  Coach B says ALL THE TIME!  It took me awhile to get the hang of it and honestly some days I forget all about it, but try for 30 per day.  That is 5 per hour which really is not very many.  Once you get used to using it that many times go for more.

Use the scoreboard to practice the rules!  You should still be practicing the rules everyday!  This is not a first week plan it is all year!

If you want more info on scoreboard be sure to read Chapter 11 of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids.  There are copies in every building.  This will be a book study option soon.