Saturday, August 16, 2014

Adventures in Whole Brain Teaching Week 1

I discovered Whole Brain Teaching this summer. It sounded so easy, and I could just imagine how wonderfully my new class would respond. I was also a bit nervous about it since I am NOT very animated, and I personally hate it when I have to share what I've learned with a partner. I've always been the type of person who learns best by myself. I was also the kid who would go ahead and start working on the paper while the teacher gave instructions because I already knew what to do. Yes, I was THAT kid who now drives me nuts! :)

On the first day of school, I was all ready to start WBT. I knew to teach Class-Yes and the WBT rules first. I knew to practice them over and over until the class could do them flawlessly. I also introduced the scoreboard so the children would be even more excited about the process. 

The first Class-Yes was met with a few groans, and, "I've already done this!" So, I tried to make it a little more exciting for them by being animated. I added gestures, funny noises, and little dances to keep the children interested. I had most of the children buying into it, but I felt ridiculous since this was not my personality at all. Still, I was determined to make this work. I had read about the brain research behind WBT, and it made sense to me. 

As the day went on, MOST of the class was doing fine, but I still had a few that didn't respond or complained each time I went through a procedure. I made sure I added points to the scoreboard, keeping to the 3 point rule where there can't be a difference of more than 3 points on each side. We kept practicing, and I introduced Teach-Okay, Mirror, and the 3-peat for following directions. Most of the children seemed to be getting it, and I was being as animated as I possibly could be.

By afternoon Resource, I was physically and mentally drained. I couldn't imagine teaching like this everyday. It felt so unnatural to me and my fairly quiet personality. I also didn't know what I was going to do about the students who still weren't participating.

I still wasn't ready to give up on WBT, but I knew something had to change. I went home to do more research. I went to the WBT website, reread the introductory information, but still couldn't figure out what I did wrong. I decided to watch some videos of it in action. In one of the videos, Chris Biffle (creator of WBT) mentioned timing students during procedures. They could then try to break their own records by doing it faster the next time. I made a note to myself to try that. Then, I watched a video of a 1st Grade teacher doing WBT. Her children were obviously familiar with the procedures already, but I watched what she did. I knew I hated putting on a song and dance show like I had basically done that day, so there had to be a better way. She simply stated the Class-Yes and Teach-Okay without all of the craziness. The class still responded enthusiastically. That's when I decided I was definitely going to try again.

I've always been the type of teacher who is mostly serious, but occasionally makes a goofy remark or jokes around with students. My humor is often subtle, but in 2nd Grade many of them seem to get it once they get to know me. So, I went in the next day, reviewed the WBT that we already knew, and practiced procedures more in depth. I wasn't as animated, but I added a few goofy sounds or actions as I felt comfortable. Most of the class responded, but there were still those few that I couldn't seem to reach. Overall, the day was better.

The next 2 days I felt that I wasn't keeping the attention of a few more students. I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to do, but something had to be wrong. Were my expectations too high? Why didn't it seem to be working as well. They seemed to be bored with it.

After a long week, I am grateful for a restful weekend! I will continue to learn more about WBT, and hopefully things will go a bit more smoothly next week when we have more academics to add to the mix. I truly want this to be fun and helpful for them and manageable for me.

Stay tuned for more Adventures in Whole Brain Teaching Week 2!  I am determined to make this work! :)

Are there any other WBT teachers out there? Share your experiences! I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, August 1, 2014

August Currently

I know, ANOTHER post from me in the same day! I just had to post the August Currently, hosted by Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.

Most of it is self-explanatory. 

LOVING my new classroom setup because I put 2 comfy reading areas instead of my usual 1. I have the students read everywhere in the room anyway, but it's nice to have 2 cozy spots. 

NEEDING to cut and organize all of those task card sets I printed and laminated (I tend to spend all of my TPT seller earnings on TPT products!). I plan to try something new with  task cards this year, and I wanted a variety of subject areas and topics. What better time to get them all ready than summer vacation?! Well, it would have been great if I had decided to work on them sooner. I decided to spend more time relaxing and enjoying my break instead. My plan for the cards is based on this post I saw on the blog at Sunny Days in Second Grade. I can't wait to try it this year!

Yes, I go back on August 5. Our Orientation is August 8. The students return on August 12. That's the day my son, Jeffery, starts 4th Grade. I can't believe he's going to be a 4th grader!

If you have any other great ideas for using task cards, please share them with us!

Back to School

My summer is almost over. I have to go back to school on August 5. I don't mind going back, I just hate getting up early in the morning. This year will be a bit different for me. It will be my first time as Team Leader, and we have 3 new people on our team. Two of them are new to our school. I'm up to the challenge though!

Be sure to head over to TPT on August 4 and 5! They are having a Blast off Back to School Sale! Items will be 20% off in participating stores, including mine, and you can get up to a total of 28% off by entering the code BTS14. Start your wish list now so you can stock up on August 4 and 5!

Click on the image above to add to your wish list!

When do you go back to school? Are you ready, or would you prefer a longer summer? Do we have any other Team Leaders out there?