Friday, August 7, 2015

Oh. Sweet. Mama!!!

Wow wow wow!!! Coach B was in town this morning delivering the PD for ALL PreK-5 teachers in my district.  And can I just say... it was AHHHHH-MAAAAY-ZING!

I'm going to share my favorite parts and Big Take-Aways, but lucky lucky you - the WHOLE lesson was recorded via Periscope.  Click here to watch!

First of all, Coach introduced the coolest new feature to really amp up those gestures and mirrors - Power Cards with Power Plus for extra uummph!  Each child is given a 3X5 index card.  One side is the Normal Power card.  This is what you typically expect from your students.  But the other side is Power Plus.  When students are feeling sleepy and slow after lunch and you want them to remember a big point, have them flip their card over to Power Plus and really get into those gestures and use their big teacher voices.

Who is excited to try Power Cards????  This girl!!!!

Of course, because I am awesome and I love you so very much, you can download your very own Power Cards here!  Just print them on card stock, laminate, and velcro to your desks.  (That's my plan anyway!)

Secondly, Coach introduced a new review technique which I can already see working seamlessly with the lesson sketch.  The Big Questions of the day (or lesson, or unit, or chapter, or whatever unit of measure in your room...) are listed on the board in a PowerPoint presentation.  At the beginning, students read the questions to each other using brainies, similar to a Crazy Professor reading.

Then once you have taught a lesson and answered a question, you flash the slide again, but the question is in blue.  The students simply Review the Blue!  Then, as the chapter, or unit, or whatever progresses, more questions are flipped to blue and students are continually reviewing all the lessons or skills you wanted them to know.  Can I get an OH YEAH? I mean... c'mon.  OH STINKING YEAH!  Kids constantly reviewing EVERY skill they need in a unit.  YEEESSSSSS!!!! THAT is teaching heaven!

Finally, Coach gave us some Mirror Words varieties and Teach-Okay varieties.

In true Coach B style, he used his chair props to navigate through the sequence of the lesson.  Which I personally love!

And of course, had lots of colleagues get up and practice.

To end the presentation, we all had to evacuate due to a fire alarm in the building.  I just figured Coach's gestures were so fast he started smokin' up the place.  Turns out a day care kid on the other side of the building pulled the alarm... but I'm just going to continue to imagine Coach setting off the alarms with sparks of funtricity!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Study: 122 Amazing Games! Chapter 2

This chapter is a more in-depth review of "The Big Seven" of WBT.
1. Class-Yes! (Attention Getter)
2. Mirror Words (Engager)
3. Scoreboard (Motivator)
4. 5 +1 Rules (Unifier)
5. Teach-Okay (Activator)
6. Switch! (Involver)
7. Hands and Eyes (Focuser)

If you are new to WBT, or just still feel overwhelmed, these are the seven steps to master before you proceed to any other components!  You can read my original blog post about The Big Seven here. And, you can see how all these components integrate into a single lesson here.

The Big Take-Away for me from this chapter is that the "classroom management plan" we use in Whole Brain Teaching cannot be separated from the instruction we teach.  Coach says it best on page 9, "...thinking well is behaving well."  When we keep our students focused, motivated, involved, engaged, and active, there is NO ROOM for misbehaviors.  We have their WHOLE BRAINS developing reading or writing or math skills, and that, my friends, is a WONDERFUL place to be!

Another Big Take-Away for me was the description of the types of gestures used during Mirror Words.
     * Casual gestures - make lessons visual; match the story/instruction; can vary from teacher to teacher.
     * Memory gestures - linked to core concepts; should be the same for every WBT teacher in a school; (can find these in conjunction with Power Pix).

There have been some ahhhh-mazing updates and additions to the Scoreboard. Check out my original post here!

Five Rules; Plus on brand new, oh so shiny, new in the box... DIAMOND RULE!  The Diamond Rule is "Keep your eyes on the target."
     >Reading a book?  Page is the target.
     >Listening to teacher?   Teacher is the target.
     >A classmate is speaking?  Classmate is the target.

When it comes to teaching the 5 rules, Coach B has included some extra special 2-step lesson plans for teaching all 5 rules AND the diamond rule.  Rolling 10-finger WOOO, Coach!

Using the Switch! helps our most talkative kids to listen, and our most quiet kids to talk.  It forces each of those "learning styles" to embrace the opposite - thus, involving the WHOLE brain!

Use Hands and Eyes only SOMETIMES to make a very important point or call students to "laser" attention.

Next week we will be talking about the 10 most popular WBT games, and I will *hopefully* have some lesson plans to share with you that involve some-most of the games.

That's all for tonight, and remember that by adding these little sparks of funtricity into your classroom instruction, management will work itself in and you will be visiting Teacher Heaven on a permanent teach-cation.  Oh, sweet mama!!!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Chapter 1: WBT Overview

I am BEYOND excited to read through Coach B.'s new book with y'all!  I've been reading and, honestly, the ideas he has compiled are nothing short of genius!  By utilizing even just a few of these 122 games, my classroom is going to be sizzling with funtricity and let's face it, we could ALL use a little more fun in our lives!

Let's get started with Chapter 1.  It's a really quick 4 page read, but it is the foundation for everything we are going to study.  If you haven't already read through the original text, I suggest you find it and really get a firm grasp on the foundations of WBT.  Chapter 1 in this book BRIEFLY reviews chapters 5-12 from Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids.

Major points from Chapter 1 include:

*The Big Seven*

       1. Class-Yes!  Everyone's favorite attention-getter to calm your class and focus their attention.  It has infinite entertainment possibilities, if you just use your imagination!  Make the call-outs seasonal, academic based, or just plain silly.

       2. The Five Classroom Rules + the all NEW Diamond Rule - a rule for EVERY scenario without posters and posters of lists.
            -Rule 1: Follow directions quickly.
            -Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.
            -Rule 3: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
            -Rule 4: Make smart choices.
            -Rule 5: Keep your dear teacher happy. (*More on this in a bit.)
            -Diamond Rule <> Keep your eyes on the target.

       3. Mirror words - activates all areas of the brain including speaking, listening, motor, visual, feelings, and critical thinking.  100% engagement?  Oh sweet mama, yeah!

       4. Scoreboard - with all new levels to game-ify your classroom so kids WANT to win the behavior "video game" you're in charge of!

       5. Teach-Okay - like think-pair-share, except FUN, focused, and energetic... activating all those neurons again!  No sit-and-get here!

       6. Hands and Eyes - use this sparingly to make REALLY BIG points, or in cases where complete attention is of the utmost importance.

       7. Switch - balancing our Chatty Cathy's with our Silent Susan's.

I promised more about Rule 5.  I've heard a lot of teachers say they get grief from parents over this one.  It's all in the explanation.  Notice that the rule is KEEP your teacher happy, not MAKE your teacher happy.  I tell the kids a whole spill about how no matter what happens at home I will come to the classroom happy.  Some mornings throughout the year, the kids even get to see me take deep breaths or sip my tea and get myself happy so we can begin our day.  Coach B. says that it is the no-loophole rule.  Even for those kids who can argue their way out of anything, or think they can anyway, you are the master of your own emotions.  They cannot argue with what you feel.  Also, Coach B. says that the one true thing that keeps him happy as a teacher is for students to learn.  Students learn?  Happy teacher!  I usually end up with parents creating this rule for their families at home, or at least buying-in to why this is important in the classroom.

Which WBT strategy are you most interested to learn more about?  If you have looked ahead (who hasn't sneaked a peek?!), which game do you want to know more about, or which chapter seems the most relevant to your curriculum and grade area?

I am so excited to begin this book study with you!  Don't forget to follow my blog so you will get updates, and SHARE!!!

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter at @AddieKelley.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

All Fired Up!

My head is SPINNING! I attended the 8th Annual WBT Conference this week in Pineville, Louisiana.  3 days with Coach B, Nancy, Farrah, and a whole team of the most amazing WBT teachers I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.  

My.  Head.  Is.  SPINNNNNING!!

There was so much to learn and Coach B is absolutely astounding!  His passion.  His energy.  His love for teachers and students.  It's infectious and inspiring.  This is my third time to attend the conference and every time I am rejuvenated and excited about returning to school.  

I have several posts for you this summer as I continue my internship into the coming year.  I hope to finally achieve WBT certified teacher.

First is my summer to-do list.  You may want to use my list to help you create your own list so we can get our classrooms WBT ready for the new year.  This is year I am diving in - deep end, no safety harness.  It's WBT or bust.  

Second, is a book study of Coach B's new book: 122 Amazing Games! available at right now!  I am beyond excited to dig into this book with you.  I've been reading and it is absolutely incredible!  We will be synthesizing our learning of this book with the original text: Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids.

I'll be posting classroom photos as soon as I start working, lessons to accompany our basal which is now mandated throughout my district, and of course results and freebies for you!  Be sure to follow my good friend Jaimee at Tying Shoes and Dots of Glue because we will be working very closely this year and will have lots to share!

I cannot wait to get started!  How about a community share... what are you most looking forward to with WBT in the new year?

My favorite new strategy to try is the Mind Giants.  I am super excited to implement them in my classroom this year and make them an integral part of my teaching and my students' learning.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Revamped Universal Homework Model (Star Homework)

After a LOT of consideration this year I ended up completely deleting ALL homework assignments (cue the gasping and eye rolling).  The kids in my school/district/state are in a total state of turmoil because of the Common Core vs. Anti-Common Core political game that is being played right in front of them.  One of the biggest concerns is the amount of homework given.

Now, before you are all jump through cyberspace to give me what for, let me explain.  I know that many accounts (but not all) are exaggerated.  I also know that math teachers are taking the brunt of this problem, and I teach reading and writing.  I also know that homework is not *really* a Common Core issue.  BUT, I am willing to work with my kids and their parents so that everyone is motivated to continue trying their hardest.  Even though the UHM leaves homework to be totally optional, I still have kids parents feeling like they have to complete everything on the list.  So, kids continue to turn in their homework sloppy and wonder why they don't get credit.  Hmmm..

I noticed another problem as well with my Independent Workstation time in the classroom - it is lacking necessary structure and accountability.

Aha moment of the century...

Drumroll please....


How have I NEVER thought of this before????  It must just be a stroke of pure genius on my part. OR, finally Coach B's real genius is beginning to seep through my computer screen and into my teacher thoughts!

I can NOT wait to try this in my classroom this week!  This idea won't be completely foreign to my kiddos because they have seen the UHM form.  AND, we have been doing stations all year.  This will just give them the umph they need to finish the year strong.  And next year, I plan on implementing it from the beginning and doing another year of no homework!

Of course, I'm attaching a copy just for you! Click HERE to download your copy from my TPT store!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Snow Day #3 and 5 Step Lesson Plans

I can hardly believe that we are on Snow Day #3 here in Louisiana!  

I've enjoyed a lazy day of baby snuggles, a recovery day getting over a stomach bug mixed with cold and congestion, and now a day of house cleaning and catching-up on my school work.  Which brings me to my first post since November... 

<deep sigh>

With all of me state leadership responsibilities, having a student teacher, taking my first MOOC and just school work in general, plus being the mother of a (now) toddler (is she really a whole year old already??)  I've gotten really (REALLY) behind.

But on with the WBT program!!!

What's the best way to include critical thinking with EVERY lesson you teach? The 5 Step Lesson Plan!  Once you've incorporated the scoreboard, and you begin practicing with class-yes and teach-okay, it's time to step up the instruction to include more WBT minds-on learning.

The 5 step lesson plan is super simple and as easy as counting to 5!

1. Ask a question
2. Answer the question
3. Expand / Elaborate / Explore / Examples
4. Assessment (QT)
5. Critical Thinking

You might be thinking, assessment before critical thinking?  Really?  That's backwards.  But, trust me, this is one of the most important components and must be followed in this order.  I'll explain in a bit.

1. Ask a question - also known as setting a purpose for the learning.  This is essential for the students to know what they should focus on during the lesson.  

2. Answer the question - stating the objective of the day.  This answers the question we just asked.  So we engaged our students with a question, and then immediately tell them the answer.  This is the critical learning that we want students to know, understand, or be able to do at the end of the lesson.  Be sure to include a gesture, or have the students create one, to solidify the learning and activate those motor neurons!

3. Expand / Elaborate / Explore / Examples - the largest segment of the lesson.  We set up examples and non-examples of the learning, building the level of thinking involved to be more and more complex.  Students work as a whole and with their partners in a constant ebb and flow of whole-class instruction and teach-okay.  Each segment taking only a few seconds to a minute before flowing back again.  Remember, the longer we talk, the more students we lose.  Therefore, keep segments of instruction as short and to the point as possible.  Instruction can be elevated using Brain Toys to add to the learning fun!  At my school, we are required to use Landmark School (from Boston, MA) strategies like 2-column notes.  So, I added the Brain Toy "Jot" to my lesson plans.  Students practice a concept, definition, or example orally and then "jot" it on their notes.

4. Assessment - this MUST come before the critical thinking at the end because this is what directs your lesson!  Formative assessment at its finest!  You give an oral  Quick Test (QT).  You can do Yes-No way for students to answer orally as a class, thumbs-up or thumbs-down for more individual assessment, pinch cards (I just use paint chips from Home Depot, Lowe's, or Sherwin Williams), or wipe-off boards if you have them.  My kids often use a piece of cardstock in a page protector, especially if I am doing a math concept and they need a number line or a clock, or in phonics if they need elkonin boxes to segment sounds or syllable boxes.  Based on this assessment you can decide if your students have mastered the ideas of the lesson or if they need more elaboration.  If they need more elaboration, provide more examples and try the QT again.  If you see that they have a proficient understanding of the lesson, move into the critical thinking.

5. Critical Thinking - requires students to apply the concepts they have learned in a critical thinking context, usually some sort of writing.  This is where triple whammy paragraphs become extremely beneficial!  Students can also draw diagrams, write 2-sentence summaries, or use the Genius Ladder, explain the concept to each other with sockless hand puppets or anti-gravity two-finger action figures, or a WBT favorite - write a letter to the aliens on Zork explaining the concept.  Again, my district is a Landmark Outreach district, and we are required to utilize their strategies.  I typically have my students use their 2-column notes which were constructed during the lesson to teach each other the lesson orally using a WBT Brain Toy and then write a 2 sentence summary of the lesson.  The biggest bang for your learning buck is incorporating several of these strategies together.

Bonus - hang the Power Pix that accompanies the essential vocabulary from the lesson!

A few resources to help you get started:

These Common Core aligned 5 Step Lesson Plan PDFs, visuals included

Farrah Shipley's Video Example

This AWESOME Format from The Reflective Educator

These example lessons from yours truly on Paragraphing and Main Idea

Try it out!  Start with something quick and simple, like grammar, or spelling.  These lessons will completely change the way your kids engage in a lesson and how much they learn!  They will rock your WBT world!!