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.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Almost there... 1 more day!!

I hope your first three days are going well!  My crew is making progress 1 rule at a time.  

By now most of you have taught the rules and class yes.  Some have added Mirror Words and Teach OK.  

Class Yes:  Don't forget to add VARIETY!  The kids will get bored with just class yes.  Spice it up once in awhile.  Even volume differences help a ton.  
Scoreboard:  Be sure you are only giving Smiles for BETTER behavior.  Make them earn it!  I had to remind my kinders that anytime I see behavior that is baby or preschool behavior that is a frown.  Anytime I see something that makes me think Im teaching 1st or 2nd grade that is a SMILE!  

If you have not added Mirror words I would encourage you to try it.  Any time you need them focused on what you are saying.  Great times for mirror words are when you are teaching routines.   Use 1st you .... 2nd you... 3rd you  make up actions to go with it.  

If you started TEACH OK good for you!  We are working on turning and telling in Kindergarten but we will get there!

Have a great day tomorrow and please feel free to email or call if you have any questions!  

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day... Check!

I hope everyone had a great first day!  Since a number of you are still not able to subscribe to the blog, I just decided to send an email to the group!  

I want to encourage any of you that thought today was HARD to hang in there!  My group is a bit "challenging" and we spent the WHOLE day on just listening.   Some groups just need more practice.  Don't give up!  Use the scoreboard A LOT!  Practice right way and wrong way.  I did the wrong way and had the kids show me the right way then let them try to show the wrong way.  It helped.  

Hopefully everyone was able to get class yes and the rules done.  Mirror words were VERY helpful today.

As you head into tomorrow look at what worked and give yourself a ten finger woohoo!  Look at what was tough and take the time to do LOTS of practice.  In reality I hardly DID anything today!  Probably won't tomorrow either... that OK!  Once your class has the hang of it you will have SO much more time for teaching later!

I would love to hear what worked and what didn't!  If you have questions please let me know how I can help!  

Have a great day tomorrow!

PS I heard a rumor from a certain NEW administrator that he heard a LOT of WBT going on in classrooms all over the district today!  SO AWESOME!  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Get Ready, Get Set....

Hi Everyone

Tuesday morning is just around the corner!  I will start my day by teaching Class, Yes wbile my class is in line.  I ask them to practice the class, yes with their eyes on me and hands together (if they are not carrying loads of schools supplies of course!)

Once we have class, yes down, I ask them to hang their backpacks then go find their seats.  I will have an activity at their table to keep them busy while we get everyone to their seat.  Then we practice class yes some more.  I ask them to go back to the work they were doing and we do class yes again.  We keep going until it looks the way it should.

Before we move on I start 3 peats.  Remember 3 peats are when students repeat what they are to do 3x.  I do it for stand up, push in your chair, carpet, seat, crayons away, etc.  We practice, practice practice!

Because I teach Kindergarten, I only teach the BIG rule, "Listen while your teacher is talking!" the first day but if I were teaching  older students I would work through all the rules the first day.  I think adding one rule per hour is a great way to do it, so that you can address some of those "smart choice" issues when you hit rule 4.

Once we have worked on the Big rule day one we add "Hands and Eyes".  I like to use hands and eyes as a "refocus" cue.  Those hands and eyes are easily distracted!

Next up, SCOREBOARD!  I use a VERY SIMPLE smiley/frowny on my easel.  I teach the kids that we are going to use the scoreboard as a GAME to see if we can win everyday!  (WE DON"T WIN EVERYDAY!)  We practice the 'Oh Yeah! and Mighty Groan! and I use the scoreboard to give them feedback on how they are doing.  I want quick responses with energy!  Remember Coach B says you have what you want... only give smiles when they are improving towards what YOU want!

Mirror, Words is next on the agenda!  I start by asking what a mirror is and what they see in a mirror.  Then we do mirror checks (I use these all year!)  My mirror checks are FUN!  Lots of crazy moves to keep them engaged and smiling.  I tell them whenever I say mirror words they repeat that and copy my words and gestures.

Of course you will have resistant students on the first day.  I love to use scoreboard and 10 finger WOOHOOs to celebrate the students who are "all in"!  I am so excited to hear how your first days go!  PLEASE let me know!

I am including YOUTUBE links below to give you some extra WBT insight into your first day!  I have had a few people tell me they could not watch my class video so that is included.  Remember I am a work in progress!  :-)  You can also refer to 122 Amazing Games! Chapter 1.

WBT the first hour!

WBT the first day

3D shapes in Kindergarten 

Stay tuned... I will be blogging my class tour (room still has guys in it!)  and each day the first week!  Jump in and enjoy the engagement and fun!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Countdown to the first day!

Hi Everyone,
The first day of school is just under two weeks away, and I am still waiting to get in my classroom and set it up!  I will be making a classroom tour video once it is set up so stay tuned!

 Some of you already attended a session at the ISD, and others are starting next week during our PD time.  Many of you have started reading the book which is great!

I have had quite a few teachers ask, "WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?"  Here are my suggestions:

Read the first chapters of 122 Amazing Games paying close attention to the CORE 4:  Class Yes, Mirror Words, Teach OK and Scoreboard.  I also would encourage you to read the section on the class rules.

You can print  Class rules posters from the WBT website, make your own,  or find free posters on TPT.  Search WBT Class Rules and you will find countless themed rule pictures.   I just made my own using digital clip art.

Think about the scoreboard and where you want to keep it.  I like to keep mine on my easel because I am near it all the time.  I have found I use my scoreboard consistently is directly relate to its proximity to my teaching area.  You may want to use a portable scoreboard on a lanyard if you move around throughout your room all day or often travel with your class.

I highly recommend watching the following videos to help you get started.

2015 Core 4 Starter Video

I look forward to seeing many of you next week at the two PD meetings!

Monday, July 20, 2015


I am beyond excited to share Whole Brain Teaching with you!

Four years ago I was teaching two sections of Kindergarten and about to lose my mind when I stumbled across Andrea Shindler's WBT youtube video.  It rocked my world!  In the past 25 years I have taught preschool through 6th grade special education and 5 years of Kindergarten.  I can honestly say that using Whole Brain Teaching's techniques and strategies has literally changed my life.  I absolutely love teaching again.

Why do I love it?
*  My students are ENGAGED!  WBT is all about efficiency and keeping kids engaged.  As Coach B. says,  "Don't STOP  the Train!"   Using the classroom management techniques has drastically cut down on behavior issues because the kids are so busy they don't have time to misbehave!

*SO MANY STRATEGIES:  As the year continues, there are more strategies and levels to implement to keep your students engaged.  We all know that what was fabulous in September is old and boring by Decemeber for the kids and US!

*ACADEMIC PROGRESS:  Using the lesson design format and the writing strategies, I watched my students make greater academic gains than I ever could have imagined.  Most of my students exceeded the grade level expectations by more than half a grade!  My students are actively engaged in their learning and using critical thinking skills.

* FUN!!  I am having fun!  The kids are having fun!  Yes we are working our tails off, but we are having fun doing it!

*It is EASY and FREE!  This is not a curriculum!  You can take it step by step as you and your students are ready.  With the exception of the two books, everything is free.  There are tons of free ebooks on the website as well as free printables on TPT.

*It is great for ALL ages!  Across the country, teachers are successfully using Whole Brain Teaching in grades K-12!  Currently in our district there are a number of teachers K-6 who are having great success using the WBT strategies.  I hope to be sharing this with 7-12th grade teachers in the near future!   My own kids (18 and 21) wish they had teachers using these strategies.

This year as a WBT site leader, I will be here to encourage you and point you in the right direction using the countless resources WBT offers. I will also be guiding us through book studies this year which may be used for District Provided Prof Dev. hours.   There are several other teachers in the district who will also be available to answer questions and give you guidance.

Be sure to follow this blog by entering your email in the top right corner!