Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Level 5 - Oh Yeah!

I've been sitting on some really exciting news for long enough! As of December 3rd, I am offically a Level 5 Whole Brain Teaching Board Certified Instructor!! Overall, I am only the 4th teacher ever to receive this level of certification. My certification packet will be headed my way soon!

When I received the email from the WBT Director of Certification, Nancy Stoltenberg, I couldn't help running around my house yelling like crazy! Since the start of the WBT certification during the summer, I've been thinking about what my goals would be. Level 5 was very much a goal, but I didn't expect to reach it as quickly as I have.

If you aren't familar with WBT certification, you can read my previous post on the topic. You can also visit the Whole Brain Teaching website where there is a file detailing the process. It's a great process to grow as a teacher using WBT techinques and be able to share with others your thoughts and experiences.

The best part of all is now that I am a Level 5, I will have the opportunity to complete special assignments given to me by Coach B!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Chocolate Math

My class and I had a little Halloween fun last Friday by using chocolate in a math lesson. While they didn't get to eat the chocolate, I think they really enjoyed using Chocolate Math. What is Chocolate Math? It's a new Whole Brain Teaching component which uses a "chocolate bar" hundreds chart to prove answer to math problems with answers from 0-100. Below is a link to the webcast in which Chocolate Math is introduced. (It's near the end of the webcast.)

I started by providing simple examples Coach B. provided: 3+4=7 and 7-4=3. Next I used 3x7=21, which is a type of problem my students haven't learned yet, but through the chocolate hundreds chart they were able to understand. I even showed them a problem much like what we recently finished using 2-digit addition.

After those examples, each student received a word problem page, themed around chocolate of course! We completed some problems together and some independently for practice. The most exciting part was having the students create their own word problems! Then as a class, we even solved a couple of those student created problems.

Here are a few of the problems my students created themselves.

If you'd like a copy of the word problem sheet I made for this activity, check out my TPT store for your FREE Chocolate Math word problems sheet.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SuperSpeed Math in Action!

Recently, my class has started using SuperSpeed Math to practice basic math facts. This Whole Brain Teaching game allows for fun and quick repetition of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts as well as fraction reduction for older students. An Ebook is available on the WBT website.

Here's a short video of my class in action!

As you can tell, I count down in between the turns so the students know they should be getting ready to take their 2nd turn. I have found this makes the recording and resetting time shorter. I also use a similar, just longer count when it is time for the partners to switch rolls, but it is not shown in the video clip.  Partners remind each other what row they start on, just so there is no confusion at the start of that turn.

You may notice I have one student not playing with a partner. Since I have an odd number of students, we play a 3rd round for that extra player. Some teachers will serve as the odd player's partner, but I like to walk around and check in on those playing instead. I arrange our playing time so that the others who have already played are making restroom trips or have other work to begin for those couple of minutes. My odd player can be seen practicing with her Sockless Hand Puppet during the other students' turns.

For more detailed information about SuperSpeed Math and for a free record keeping sheet, see my earlier post SuperSpeed Math or view the recent webcast linked below.

I'll be making a post about our class using Chocolate Math, which is introduced at the end of the SuperSpeed Math webcast, later this month!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Power Pix

Power Pix are a great tool in Whole Brain Teaching. The video below about Power Pix is part of the Tuesday night webcast series on WBT.

In a nutshell, Power Pix are like mini anchor charts or visual reminders of concepts we teach using a question and answer with gestures. There are some available on the WBT website under Ebooks for K-3 in language arts and math that were created to match California state standards in those grade levels. The forum has some templates so you can make your own to fit the curriculum you have. For my Power Pix wall, I have a combination of both kinds. Here's what mine looked like about a week ago.

My Power Pix Wall
I have a row for each of the subjects I used the pictures for. Red is for math and green is for science. The blue is split into 2 rows. The first blue row is for topics covered in our reading series and the second is for English. I am also working on some in purple for my social studies (not shown in this picture), which I teach with science in an alternating manner.
When I introduce each Power Pix, the question and answer with gestures is discussed and reviewed for the picture. Each pre-made Power Pix from the WBT website has a cheat sheet that details step by step how to introduce and practice that particular skill. Ones that I have made myself do not have a cheat sheet, but it would be easy to make one by just following the 5 step WBT lesson plan.
Power Pix posted at least until the test has been taken on that skill. In some cases, I've taken them down before the test because the picture would provide answers. For example (zoop), the odd and even pix list the numbers large enough for my students to see them, so I take those down or I cover up the numbers. I do plan to keep some up on the wall. The fiction Power Pix will stay so we can review it when we talk about non-fiction in coming weeks.
Teachers who have enough wall space may create a specific area for math and one for language arts where the pictures would stay until state/standardized testing. In those cases, a grid is created so the pictures can be pointed out easily for reviewing. Unfortunately, this bulletin board is the largest area that I have in my classroom that I can also reach. As you might notice, I have the date at the bottom of that board as well because it's easy for my students to refer to daily.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fabulous Blog Award

I'm so excited to say that I've been awarded another blog award. Thanks to Miss L at Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching for giving me the Fabulous Blog Award!

Here are the rules:
- Thank the blogger who gave it to you and share the link back to the awarding blog.
- Name five (5) fabulous moments in your life.
- Name five (5) things that you love.
- Name five (5) things that you hate.
- Pass the award onto five (5) deserving blogs/bloggers.

So here goes (all in no particular order):

Five fabulous moments in my life:
1. Graduating from LSU
2. Achieving my goal of teaching at the school I was in from K-12th grade - 13 years and counting!
3. Having the opportunity to teach a mini lesson in front of the entire Whole Brain Teaching National Convention!
4. Watching the first class I taught graduate from high school

Five things that I love:
1. God
2. Teaching
3. My family and friends
4. Pizza
5. "Playing" on my computer - games, blogs, websites, Pinterest

Five things that I hate:
1. Bad drivers
2. Getting up early
3. Sinus infections
4. Kale

Five deserving blogs/bloggers:
1. Mrs. Shipley's Fabulous Firsties
2. Wolfelicious
3. Deanna at A Year of WBT in a Third Grade Class
4. Think Share Teach
5. Kate at Edukate with Whole Brain

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Week 1 - Done, Week 2 Underway!

One week of school is officially in the books. I can't believe how much of the WBT bag of goodies I've been able to use! Things started off with parent orientation where I showed part of a YouTube video of Chris Biffle, aka Coach B, taking a middle school class through the WBT basics. By the end of an early dismissal day and the first full day with the class, the Core 4 (Class-Yes, Teach-Okay, Mirror, Scoreboard) was being frequently used. We started using the 3-peat (Cubbies, Lines, Bodies Up, Page #), but even now it still needs some work.

The class Power Pix wall has 9 Pix related to our studies and a 10th that I've introduced via PowerPoint during an English lesson. For the first time in my WBT journey, I introduced the Because Clapper. Surprisingly, the students caught on to the idea. During another English lesson later in the first week, we used the Example Popper briefly. One of my students even mentioned it this week!

The Super Improvers Wall started to gain interest on that first full day and grew as the week went on. I used a PowerPoint slide show to explain the SIW and give some practice examples. The students have been very curious about the small smiley faces with cameras on Level 5 and Level 9, but I told them they have to wait until someone reaches those levels to know what that means! :)

While there are still some areas that need work, like my consistency using the scoreboard and awarding SIW stickers, I'm pleased with how things are progressing. I did make a seating arrangement change that I can already see is making a difference in some excess talking that I was having mainly because of the positioning some students had at different points during the day.

My goals for what's left of this week is to increase my scoreboard tallies to at least what they were the first week (about 30 total each day), recognize more students using the SIW, and spend more time daily practicing the 5 rules. I am committed to making this work better than I have ever had it work so it becomes a habit for me and more beneficial for my students!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SuperSpeed Math

In getting my classroom ready for this year's cast, I spent some time making sure my SuperSpeed Math was all ready to go. What is SS Math? It's only one of the most fun ways for your students to review their basic math facts in a game format. Let me explain.

As teachers, we all know how important it is for our students to have an instant recall of simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. SS Math makes students want to practice every day! There are 2 levels for each type of fact. The first level gives the facts in order and the second mixes the facts up. Another feature of these levels are the gnarlies. These are the facts that are most troublesome for students. They are noted on each level in darkened squares.

How does this amazing game work? Students work in pairs. One student is reading the problem and then giving the answer while the 2nd student is checking those answers. After 1 minute time, the answering student notes the problem they last answered correctly. A second minute is provided and the goal is for the student to go past that "record". Roles are swapped and the 2nd student gets to answer while the 1st student checks.

If a student breaks their record, the next time they play, they move down one row. They remain on the same row the next time. I use a form I created for the students to record their progress on which helps them remember where they should start each time. That form is available here. For each turn, the student writes the letter and number coordinate for the problem they last answered correctly. A check is marked in the box if a new record is achieved on the 2nd minute. When they play again, the student counts the number of checks and they start that many rows down.

In order to keep the pages organized, I did a couple things. First, I printed the blank problems front to back and printed the answer pages on front only. I did this so the answering student wouldn't have something to cheat from. After laminating the pages, I stored them in plastic pocket folders, creating enough for each pair of students in my classroom.

The record forms are kept in a separate folder so that it doesn't matter which SS Math folder the pair gets. All of the folders are placed on a shelf for easy access. You can see my folder below. I have not put in the multiplication or division facts because those are just introduced to my 3rd graders and it will be well into the school year before the students are ready for them.

SuperSpeed Math Folder

Test pages printed front to back

Answer pages printed on the front only

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Many thanks to Nancy at Mrs. Stoltenberg's Second Grade for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award!

Here are the rules for this award:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
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.

So, 7 random facts about myself:
1. I teach at the same school I went to from K-12 and my 4th grade teacher is just across the hall!
2. In college, I was the secretary/treasurer for a co-ed honor fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi.
3. Playing computer games online is a weakness of mine.
4. I'm the website coordinator for my school. (Just means I update the information that's on there.)
5. Over the years, I've collected M&M characters items like the dispensers that come out at Christmas time.
6. When I was in high school, I won a oral speech/writing competition at a pageant.
7. I'm a Team Beachbody Coach and as of today, with the help of exercise and Shakeology, I've lost 20 lbs!

Now for the nominating:

I'm going to take the idea I saw on another blog (I just don't remember which one!) because there are so many out there who have already received this award. If you don't have the Versatile Blogger Award, leave a comment for me and I'll stop by your blog. My hope is to spread the love to blogs that might not have a much attention yet by doing that. Don't be shy! Let the blogging world know you're out there!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

Thanks so much to Nancy (Director of WBT Certification) at Mrs. Stoltenberg's 2nd Grade Class for giving me the One Lovely Blog Award!

Blog Awards

Here are the rules for this award:
Once you receive the award, you have to pass it on to others! Here are the 3 rules to follow:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

Here are the blogs I'm passing this award on to. Be sure to visit them!

I know it's only 11, but it was hard to find active blogs that don't already have this award. I'll try to find a few more to add.

1. Shepard's Shining Stars
2. Mrs. Wilson's 4th Graders
3. Third Grade Bookworm
4. 4th Grade Frolics
5. Miss Third Grade
6. 3-6 Free Resources
7. A Whole Brain Teacher
8. Mrs. Slatton's Kindergarten
9. Mrs. Norton's Whole Brain Teaching Journey
10. Joy Button's Amazing Journey with WBT
11. WBT Blogger

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Growing a Super Improvers Wall

“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow -- perhaps it all will.” Albert Einstein
The Super Improvers Wall gives teachers an amazing tool for encouraging students. In the classroom garden, we want our students to grow in so many areas. From personal experience, the wall is not only successful and motivating, but it is also easy to create. Whether the goal is making improvements in academics, behavior, or responsibility, the Super Improvers Wall can be the fertilizer to promote progress.

In my own classroom, I have a short, but positive experience with the SIW. During the last 3 weeks of the school year, the wall was so helpful in giving some of my students praise just when they needed it most. One particular student, “Juan”, was having some inconsistencies in his ADHD medication which resulted in great problems of distraction for the other students especially in the afternoon hours. Juan tried extra hard to manage those tendencies on his own and I rewarded him with a sticker on his SIW card for his effort. That small praise planted the seed to his continued growth in self-management! I don’t know about you, but I would much rather praise a student like this than be using valuable class time to focus on his unwanted behavior.

Setting up the garden plot for your Super Improvers Wall is very simple. 10 levels are created, each with a different name and a different color. Student names are written on a piece of paper matching the color of the level they are on. You can weave the levels around any theme you would like. For example, this year I will be using a Hollywood/movie theme in my classroom, so my levels are named things like actor, writer, producer, and executive. I put the wall up early on to build student interest and excitement until I start using it a week or so into the start of the year.

Once student curiosity has sufficiently grown, they are told how the wall works. To move up to the next level, 10 stars must be received for improvements in any area the teacher chooses. Individual students, even those high achievers, can be challenged with goals. Blossoming in remembering to turn in homework assignments, flourishing in handwriting, or even working extra hard on a specific area of behavior, as Juan did, can be means for earning a star. Then, a picture of the student is taken at level 4 and level 8, but the picture is hidden from everyone until the next level is reached. Although I have not had a student get that far, I can only imagine how excited the entire class will be to see that picture!

What the Super Improvers Wall does is sow excitement into praising students without the need for tickets and expensive classroom stores. Students might even start noticing the improvements of their peers on their own! Give me a mighty OH YEAH! Let’s shower the classroom garden by sharing the love of personal achievements and growth!

Here are pictures of my SIW for this coming year. I used a pocket chart to hold colored index cards. The index cards will make it easy for me to have all the various colors I need without having to cut paper to size. There are no student cards yet because I don't have my list of names, but they would be placed under the level cards. Level 1 is a white card. Levels 2-5 are pastel colored index cards. The last 4 levels are neon colored cards.

I printed the level names and taped them on the colored cards. Like many elementary teachers, I have a TON of small circle shaped stickers. Last year, instead of drawing stars on the cards, I let the students put a sticker on themselves. Once they move to a new level, I will give them the old card to keep.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

WBT National Convention Day 3

Today was the final day of this year's Whole Brain Teaching National Convention. It was a really good day for me because the areas discussed were some of the things that I needed a better grasp of being that I will be teaching self-contained this coming year. Let me explain the specifics.

While I have been told I write well, teaching students how to write and compose works of their own is definitely a weakness of mine. Writing was a focus this morning with Coach B. highlighting the Genius Ladder and the Oral Writing, or Doozy, game. Both of these will help me lead students step by step through the process of developing complete topic sentences and appropriate details to create paragraphs.

Another focus today was in the areas of reading fluency and comprehension. I have briefly used Super Speed 100/1000 for review of common sight words and I plan on using that with my new class. We also spent time experiencing the Crazy Professor game. This game will help students with comprehension skills like summarizing which will be helpful in many subject areas, including science and social studies.

The last portion of the day was spend on Super Speed Math and Mind Soccer. Super Speed Math was a big hit with my students last year, but I wasn't able to allow them to play as frequently as I should have because of our schedule. This year, I will begin using it earlier and more often.  The scoreboard reward game, Mind Soccer, has to be a part of my system this year more it has been. I will use it to motivate without candy, tickets, or prize boxes!

By far this was the most exciting and beneficial form of professional development I have ever attended. Next year, I plan to be in attendance again. If you have the opportunity to attend any WBT conference, I high encourage you to find a way to do so!

Friday, June 15, 2012

WBT National Convention Day 2

Cowabunga! This day will most likely be one of the highlights of my teaching career. I know for sure it is so far, though I’ve only been teaching for 12 years. If you aren’t about to be here for the conference, let me give you a run-down of the day and reason for my excitement.

Day 2 of the WBT National Convention at Louisiana College was focused on lesson design and delivery. We started off the day in the large group learning the 3 basic parts in teaching a lesson: the attention getter (Class-Yes) with ping-ponging the scoreboard, the lesson information presented in small pieces, and the Teach-Okay. Then, during our break-out sessions, the 5 steps of a lesson were discussed and practice. Coach Biffle asked Andre and me to each present shortened versions of a lesson to the whole group at the end of the conference day. We were both really nervous!

As Coach B. started the end of the day whole group session, my nerves continued to be on edge. I was called first and made my way to the front to give my lesson on odd numbers. My excitement probably got the better of me during my lesson because I went a little overboard on my Teach-Okay signals. Many attendees complimented my “performance” so I assume it was effective.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected to get the opportunity to not only meet the amazing Coach B., but also be asked to present the very thing he is teaching to the whole convention group! With one more day remaining to the conference, I have no doubt that I will become a better teacher for having attended just the 2 days so far. I look forward to learning about reading and math techniques tomorrow.

Thanks Coach for giving me confidence in my teaching!

For variations on Class-Yes and Teach-Okay, check out my suggestion list.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

WBT National Convention Day 1

I have 3 words for you -OMB: Oh My Brain! Today was the first day of this year's Whole Brain Teaching National Convention in Pineville, Louisiana. Why did I put off going for the last couple of years?!?! I've had the opportunity to meet Mr. Chris Biffle, aka Coach B, and spend the majority of the day learning from his modeling and teaching about WBT techniques.

Coach B and I just before the start of the conference.

I also spent the day partnering with my new Whole Brain buddy from Kentucky, Donna, of Mrs. Slatton's Kindergarten. She's a newer WBT blogger and I happened to check her blog through a post on the WBT website. I had no idea that my reading last night about her adventure of arriving in Louisiana would make a connection for us this morning when we ended up sitting near each other. Now that's what I call ccrraaaazzyyy!

I'm so worn out but at the same time I'm so excited about tomorrow. Sleep might be a hard to get tonight because I can't wait to learn and experience more WBT!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I Won a Blog Award! Oh Yeah!

Thanks so much to Melissa Smith from Mrs. Smith's 1st Grade Class for giving me the Liebster Award for my new blog! This is my first blog award and I hope it won't be the last I will do my best to keep this blog interesting and inspiring for all those Whole Brain Teaching fans old and new!

The award is given out to new blogs with less than 200 followers to highlight our efforts in the blogging world.

Here are the rules:
1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

This is the tough part! Here are my top 5 blog picks. I hope you will take time to visit their blogs. 
1. Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching - another WBT blogger with variety of information
2. Whole Brain with Roxi Shayne - a fellow Louisiana WBT but she's at the high school level 
3. Mrs. Shipley's Fabulous Firsties - a veteran WB teacher with awesome videos, be sure to check out her summer guide to setting up your WBT classroom series!
4. Edukate with Whole Brain - Kate has great pictures of her Super Improvers wall
5. Mrs. Schuler's Pawsitively Wild for WBT - a new WBT blogger with 2 amazing posts about using the Genius Ladder with her 3rd graders

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Good, The Bad, and The Scoreboard!

Awarded 6/28/2012
Going into this recently finished year, I knew Whole Brain Teaching was going to be with me.  I felt as if I was going into one of those old western gunfights. My ammunition was everything WBT, but specifically, the powerful scoreboard. My target - Teacher Heaven in my classroom. How was my aim? Not quite as great as my ammunition. Here’s how the classroom wasn’t exactly won.

The year began with a small dilemma. It was our first year departmentalizing our grade. I decided to color coordinate my scoreboards, one for each of my 2 classes. The scoreboards were side by side and I left them up so that each class would see how the other had done the session before. Was it the perfect motivation for the students? Not really as much as I had hoped, though the students did discuss with each other how the other group had done. It was time to take better aim.

Reward would have to be the main excitement with the scoreboard. In the beginning, I decided that a little music time would be great and would be free. After winning the first time, the reward was 30 seconds of a song. Each additional win added more time until they could listen to the entire song. It was a hit and a miss. Some students loved it and danced around, others just looked bored out of their boots. What could I do to hit my target? 

After that 1st term, the reward was changed to free seats after 3 wins of the scoreboard. No cost to me and students would have to work longer to get something I was sure they’d like a lot since they had assigned seats. My mistake – letting them have those seats for the entire session with me instead of for just a few minutes or for one subject. While they enjoyed the reward, I left myself with no way to increase the level of their reward. So, I was initially right on target, but my shot fell short. 

Was I able to hit the bulls-eye? - No. The free seating was fine for a longer time than the music. I tried rewarding equipment to use at recess and even shoes off in the room days. Nothing was just right for the groups I had. Despite feeling disappointed in not having a winning shot, my classroom did not fall apart! The other components of WBT I used, like the Super Improvers Wall, helped me survive the yearlong management gunfight and I look forward to the challenge next year holds!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The First Pieces to the WBT Puzzle

Awarded 6/28/2012
For those who are new to Whole Brain Teaching, which I was just a couple years ago, you might look at the WBT website and be overwhelmed at all of the parts available. I suggest looking at the parts as the pieces of a giant puzzle. Using all of the pieces together will help you complete the classroom picture we all want – teacher heaven!

When working with WBT, it’s a good idea to start with the edge pieces which will help with classroom management. The first of those pieces would be the attention getter, Class-Yes. Forget yelling at the top of your lungs, blowing a whistle, or having to walk over to the light switch just to have the focus on you. By just saying “Class”, your students respond “Yes”, stop talking/working and look to you for direction.  Does that get boring after using it for a long time? No it doesn’t because you can vary how you say it and how your students respond. Oh Class-Oh Yes!

More of the framework for the puzzle comes in the form of the 5 classroom rules. We’re always told as educators that we should focus on as few rules as possible and WBT does that for us! You can print out the rules posters on the WBT website. The most important tip is to practice them every day and at more than one time during the course of the day depending on how long you have your students. Also, having the entire class review a specific rule in unison when a student or a small group “forgets” helps bring back order and gives a verbal cue without you pointing out individuals.

Finally, what I see as the corner pieces that hold the frame pieces together is the Teach-OK. Do students love to talk? Most students love to talk and you can use that to your advantage by letting your students do just that! With Teach-OK, students review material that you just taught by facing a partner and teaching them that material. This gives you a chance to listen in and be sure they are grasping the concept in small pieces. With a Class-Yes to regain attention, you’re off to teaching your next topic.

Once your class has mastered these frame pieces, you can begin filling in the rest of the picture. From the scoreboard to practice cards and even the Agreement Bridge for those really tough students, you’ll have so many puzzle pieces in your back pocket that the picture can keep changing as you need it to. Now that’s teacher heaven!

Friday, May 25, 2012

WBT, My Hero!

Awarded 6/28/2012
This school year, we departmentalized our third grade classes for the first time. For me, it meant juggling two sections of students with a shorter teaching time and using Whole Brain Teaching techniques that my coworker did not use. I hoped WBT would be my superhero!

Just like any superhero, WBT gave me instant attention. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s face it, any time bystanders in those movies see the over the top lead character, they are awestruck and give them their full attention while they do something remarkable! Well, “Class, Yes” did just that for me so many times and the best part was that the type situation didn’t matter!

During football season, our classes could attend the high school pep rally on Friday afternoons. Naturally, they were loud and super exciting for our young students. When we needed to leave early to return to class for dismissal, my superhero, WBT, was on call. With one loud “Class, Class!” I had 30 students responding, “Yes, Yes!” and giving me their attention! My superhero then was able to commandeer a line of students on cue and exit the pep rally with no one left behind and no chaos! But, it doesn’t stop there!

Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and other holidays bring their own individual enemies. From being hyped up on sugary goodness, or not being completely satisfied with a gift received, we all know that these parties can be loud and crazy! WBT flies in and saves the day yet again! Even with all 30 students in one room, I could quickly gather their attention for my coworker to give a set of instructions. Even better was when it was time to return to our separate rooms. All I needed was “Lines” and my section would arrive at the door in an orderly manner! No pushing, shoving or fighting to deal with!

Awards day, which is our last day of school, can be the most frenzied time with parents wanting to leave with students before we can bring them back to our classes and check them out. I just knew my hero’s power would do wondrous magic for one last time! In to the lunchroom, all nice and in line, but an hour later, those calm students are now antsy and ready to start summer vacation. “Oh, Class!” I say. “Oh, Yes!” our group responds. With their full attention, I ask them to merge into one line as we head back to our rooms for check outs. Awards day was no problem for my hero!

After all the students were gone and teachers were left to start our end of the year wrap up work, I almost wanted to cry. Looking back, I can now picture the star-struck girl gushing over her hero for saving the day yet again. WBT, you are my hero and I can’t wait until we can meet again – next year!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WBT Certification

If you missed out on last night's live webcast about the new WBT Certification, you really need to play catch up! Go to and watch the replay of Coach B's explaination of what certification is and how to go about achieving the ranks. There are 10 ranks total ranging from WBT novice to WBT Board Certified International Presenter!

How does this process work. Well, in a nutshell it's basically letting others know about your WBT experiences, good or bad, and getting awarded for your thoughtful sharing. You can earn Certification Points (CP) in many ways. Posting about webcasts, such as the one last night, can earn you points. So can posting to a blog and getting followers to that blog. The more followers your blog has, the better. Creating videos can also give you the chance to earn points. Attending a conference and posting to the WBT website about that conference could give you 100 points! Just think how awesome attending the upcoming National Conference in Pineville, LA would be knowing that you could tell others about it and earn CP!

You might be wondering what becoming WBT certified can mean for you as a teacher. Well, once you achieve Level 5 - Board Certified WBT Teacher, you'll receive 2 great rewards! An awesome certificate of achievement as well as a personal letter of recommendation from a member of the WBT Executive Board will be headed your way via email! Not to mention a phone call from Mr. Biffle himself for an oral exam about WBT. How cool is that! From there, other opportunities to be a WBT voice are available.

How far do you want to reach? Level 3? Level 5? Maybe all the way to Level 10? Or, do you want to be a master in a specific area? Whatever your goal is, just remember the WBT motto: Despite hardships, to the STARS!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Could WBT really be that good?

Awarded 6/28/2012
When I started dabbling in Whole Brain Teaching about 2 years ago, I was more than half way finished the school year with a group of 24 somewhat challenging kids that generally fell into one of three groups- the “interrupters”, the “sneaky talkers”, and the “I could care lessers”. I needed to bring them in and get better overall control of my classroom. My observations in the past all said I needed to work on that management part of my classroom environment and even though I hadn't had one in 2 years, I knew that was still the case. I came across WBT online and wondered, "Could it really be that good and work as well as these teachers out there claim it does?"

I had nothing to lose, so I began with the basics - the 5 rules and the scoreboard. The students took to the rules and gestures easily because I had used gestures in some of my science lessons not knowing about their part in WBT. For winning the scoreboard, I allowed the students to have a minute of free talking time, which was a big hit! Using the rules and the smilies/frownies alone helped to cut back on some of the bigger problems I was having and I was pleasantly surprised. But as the last few months of school neared, their behaviors started to creep back in. It was time for another change.

Part 1 of the change was our rewards. After winning a set number of times, I pulled from a bag of choices - No shoes day, movie snack, extra recess. They enjoyed having more than just the minute of talking and the surprise element of what the reward was made it even sweeter to win. Of course they had their favorites, but they didn't seem to mind getting any of the new options.

Part 2 - Enter the Practice Cards! It was amazing the difference they made! I told my students that I would give them a trial run day so they could experience what the cards would be like and to show them just how often some of them were “forgetting” the class rules despite our reviews of them throughout the day. To say they were shocked at the end of the day by the high number of practice cards that would have been handed out is an understatement. So, when we played for real the next day, I thought I had another class in my room. Only a handful of students received cards, and many of  those students ended up being my habitual rule breakers that needed that practice 3-4 times a week even when I increased the practice time.

For the first time in many years, I made it through the end of the year without draining myself of all my energy trying to keep my class from going berserk. I knew that WBT was going to be part of my classroom from then on and I read and reviewed everything I could that summer to prepare for this year. How did this year go? I’ll talk about that in another post. :)

The beginning of my blogging journey!

Today, I begin my first blog! I hope to post some pictures from my classroom this year while I'm off for the summer. As I make plans for the coming school year, I'll post what I'm doing, too. If you don't know about Whole Brain Teaching, visit the website where there are FREE downloads, videos, forums, and a weekly webcast with the man himself, Chris Biffle!