Sunday, October 9, 2011

1st Six Weeks Update

It's been fast and furious at my school this first six weeks.  I can't remember ever having as many tasks and reports due with deadlines in this first six-week period than I have this year.  I'm not certain if that is a result of NCLB, budget cuts, a more demanding (new) principal, or maybe a combination of the three...but spare time for blogging has been non-existent.  Sorry that I haven't posted in a while...but I do have some great things to report!!!

First students are doing awesome!  I've given three major math tests and I have a 90% passing rate on these tests.  My commended  performance is running about 50% on these tests.  We are really making great connections with gestures and the Whole Brain approach!  My kids actually look forward to assignments because they are confident that they are going to score well, and they love doing Positive Trash Talk right before starting the test!!!  My whole classroom environment is so drastically different than what it was 2 years ago...I often find myself sitting back and listening to the students working and I just shake my head and laugh at how much I've changed!!!  I've recently received several resources from Kagan publishing (compliments of my PTO!!!) and they tie in so nicely with WBT.  The cooperative learning worksheets and structures allow the students to merge their WBT gestures and gambits into their teaching of one another using a structure that supports a brain based approach.

My conduct marks were also evidence of a major change happening in my classroom.  I gave nearly every kid an E on their first report card...because they earned it!  With WBT, I'm not scolding...I'm reminding kids and classes of the rules and expectations.  Our school requires that we have documentation and report to parents when we have incidents that will negatively impact a student's conduct score.  I've had very few needs to send those reports because the Scoreboard works!  The only time it doesn't work, is when I don't use it properly.  I have failed to properly use the scoreboard a lot more often than my students have failed to meet the expectations.  I have a couple of kids who are not completely plugged in to the program and I've introduced practice cards this week.  Tomorrow will be day one with them in effect.  I'm confident that practicing rules for 2 minutes instead of playing at recess will be an incentive that should help my overall program. 

I've met with nearly every parent of the students that I teach.  We've discussed my teaching style and I've not received one complaint.  Most of them tell me that their kid talks about my class at home all the time.  I think that's a good thing!  My principal has sent a couple of new teachers at my campus into my room to observe and she has expressed an interest in getting a WBT trainer to come to our district.  I think that we are on the cusp of greatness!!!

It's been a great start thus far and I'm certain that it will continue to be awesome!  I really am invigorated by this approach and I'm amazed at how it is changing me as well.  Stay tuned for more WBT awesomeness!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

WBT and Kagan

My school principal brought in a presenter from Kagan today for one of our professional development days.  We got the first day of their 5-day seminar which includes several "how to" lessons on their cooperative learning tools.  Unlike WBT, this is a program that has some very high costs to it.  I'm sure that my campus paid a pretty penny for this training.  It was very worthwhile and a real eye-opener to a lot of teachers.  I spent a large part of my day thinking about how I would merge the Kagan strategies with the WBT model.  My principal is very WBT friendly and she wants to have Chris Biffle come to our school in the future.  There are several of our teachers who implement some of the WBT it will be interesting to see how many of us are using WBT motions and micro lecturing, along with the Kagan cooperative learning tools.  I think our school is going to be revolutionized by all of this Brain Based Learning!

I met my students on Tuesday and I can already tell that I'm going to have a great year!  I cannot recall being this motivated and ready to start kids off on what I know will be their most awesome school year ever!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reflections From WBT National Convention

After returning from Louisiana last week, I wanted to post on some of the things that were most beneficial to me.  We received many "pearls of wisdom", but these three were key for me as a teacher who has "dabbled" in WBT prior to attending the more formal training at the conference. 

First of all, I learned how the brain works...this is the foundation...the WB in WBT. We all can agree that teaching is both an art and a science. A lot of teachers are great at the art part of it, but I've found, over the years, that very few teachers are scientific in their approach to teaching. Understanding how the brain works and why WBT works is totally essential to putting this methodology into practice. I'm a math/science the logic of the brain science made WBT make sense!

Secondly, I got a better understanding of the Scoreboard. The scoreboard is the motivator...not really the "scoreboard". The "score" is completely manipulated by the teacher to keep the class engaged...not to keep score and track behavior. You don't have to record every positive thing in the classroom on the smiley side, and you don't have to use the frowny side for all negative behavior. Sometimes just the threat of the negative, or the hope for positive, is enough to re-engage the students.

Another crucial point that I received clarification on was on the usage of PowerPics. The visual cortex is a large area of the brain and it has a direct pathway to memory. That's why we remember faces, but not names. Putting the PowerPics up on the wall puts our state standards into the memory via that visual cortex pathway. I will be putting these up this year and using them for direct instruction and review.

I really can't believe that I'm saying this...but I can't wait for school to start!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Welcome and Introduction

Welcome to my Whole Brain Teaching blog.  I have just finished my 8th year of teaching at the intermediate (3-4-5) level.  Currenly I teach 4th Grade math and science and I discovered Whole Brain Teaching in December 2010.  I started using Class-Yes, Teach-Okay, and the first two levels of the scoreboard because I had an extremely high achieving but very challenging group.  The kids loved it and using it made a huge difference.  I decided that I needed to go ahead and dive in to this and learn all I could!  I started downloading the materials, I put in Super Speed Math, and I watched a lot of video on YouTube!  At the end of the year, I sent more students to the "End of Year Multiplication Fact Party" than any other teacher!  I was sold and had to get more next week, I'll be driving myself and paying my own way to Pineville, LA to the WBT National Teacher Conference!  I can't wait to meet Mr. Biffle and his staff, and learn all that I can about this revolutionary teaching methodology and classroom management system!