Sunday, June 29, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching: Teach! Okay! and Switch!

 Teach Okay Switch

Okay I want to share another cue/callback from whole brain teaching. This one is called Teach! Okay! I'm also going to add in Switch! because they go hand in hand.

Teach! Okay! is a fabulous way to reinforce concepts and ideas throughout the lesson. This practice combines seeing, saying, hearing, and doing. It gets students involved and talking. One thing I've noticed is that teachers TALK A LOT! If we can transfer some of that speech to our students, they can take more control of their learning. Plus, it sticks in their little brains better.

What I did was put students in pairs with who they were sitting by. Student A was #1 and Student B was #2. (If someone's partner was absent, they just joined in the nearest group and made a group of three. My kids also got really good at noticing if another persons partner was missing and would quickly get together with them.) During a lesson (math, LA, science, writing etc.), I would teach a key point or concept. Then, I would look at the class, clap twice and say "Teach!". The class would clap back twice and say "Okay!". Then, partner #1 would start teaching partner #2 what we had just learned. They would use the vocabulary and any gestures I did during the lesson. It was fun to see that they even mimicked my tone and emotion in my voice.

This is something that happens very quickly. My lesson was not 20 minutes long that I wanted them to teach their partner, it was 1-3 minutes, sometimes less. It was key concepts or vocabulary that I wanted to reinforce before I had the kids teach each other. For example. if I was teaching perimeter, I would say something like "Perimeter is... the distance around an object, add the length of the sides!" while drawing an imaginary picture frame in the air. Then I would clap twice and say "Teach!". My kiddos would clap twice and say "Okay!" and then I would hear "Perimeter is... the distance around an object, add the length of the sides!". Then partner two would repeat and gesture the same thing back to them. This all happens within a minute and then we move on.

Here's an example:




You can see that this teacher does more than just clap twice. When your kids get comfortable with the Teach! Okay! cue, you can start to have some more fun with it. Here is a great video that explains some key points about this cue:

The idea of Switch! is pretty self-explanatory. When you have a longer concept or just want to make sure both partners are talking, you call out "Switch!". This is a cue to the students that the partners switch off.
If you haven't downloaded my free WBT Cues and Callbacks posters you can click on the link or the picture below! Teach! Okay! will change your teaching I promise. Let me know how it goes!
http://bit.ly/1imAAcc

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Yoga Balls



I have a unique idea that I want to share with you today. It is something I have tried in my classroom with positive results. That idea....yoga balls!

My second year teaching I had a severe ADHD student. He was really lovable and likeable but had an extremely hard time focusing. He lived at home with a dad who definitely cared about him but was adamant that he didn't want his son on any medication. He has ADHD and was put on medication as a child. He didn't like what it did to him and didn't want to put his son through that. I respected his position as a parent but was worried that his son would be handicapped by his ADHD.

Then, my school psychologist had a brilliant idea: yoga balls! 
https://ca.shine.yahoo.com/blogs/shine-on/why-teachers-ditching-student-chairs-yoga-balls-194833969.html
 Yoga balls (sometimes called stability balls) were supposed to help my Kaden fidget and wiggle as needed. The slight movement would increase blood flow (as well as strengthen his core) and help him focus better.

I'll admit, I was a little doubtful at first. I thought "This kid is ADHD. He is going to bounce until his head hits the ceiling and pop the ball!". I was, however, pleasantly surprised. We used it as a motivator. Kaden was very excited to get to sit on a ball; he was the only one in class at the time and it was the "cool thing". We set up a few ground rules: no bouncing high, the ball stays on the ground etc. If those rules were broken, we would have to take it away. That was enough motivation for him to be responsible with the ball.

To my surprise (and his dad's I think) it worked! He would move around, bounce, and wiggle to his hearts content. He sat near the back of the room so he wouldn't distract too many other students. He was able to focus and starting turning out better work. I was sold!

A second grade teacher down the hall wrote a grant and got yoga balls for her entire class. There was not one chair in the room. She often commented how much better focused her students were and how she loved letting them move while learning. 






Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching: Class! Yes!

Class Yes WBT Strategies


I want to share with you a few tips that changed the way I taught. It's called Whole Brain Teaching or WBT. The summer after I had my first baby I was busy changing diapers, feeding, and playing with my 3 month old. My teaching partner was busy on Pinterest searching for good ideas for us to try next year. She stumbled upon something called Whole Brain Teaching and we never looked back.

Now let me start off by saying that I don't claim to be an expert. I don't claim to know everything about it. I have tried it and want to share what has worked for me.

What's nice about WBT is that you can start small or go all out. You can take what works for you and implement. I plan to do a series of blog posts about some of the WBT strategies I tried in my room. WBT is a classroom management/teaching technique that gets students involved and using as many parts of their brain as possible.  It's about getting students engaged, talking, gesturing, teaching and mirroring. Plus, it's a LOT of fun! You can find out more about it by going here: Whole Brain Teaching

Teach Me and I Remember

The first thing I tried in my room is an attention getter called "Class! Yes!". This was a fun way to get kids paying attention without having to say "Alright let's come back together! Everybody eyes on me!".  All you do is say "Class!" and they reply "Yes!". Easy enough, but also not revolutionary. The fun part comes with how you call out "Class!". If I whispered it to them, they must whisper back "Yes!", if I say "Classy, classy, classy!" in a high-pitched voice, they must respond in a high-pictched voice saying "Yessy, yessy, yessy!". My favorite was "Classity class class!" and they would respond "Yessity yes yes!". Each time you call for their attention you change it up so they don't get bored. It makes them smile and it focuses your students neo-cortices on what you are going to say next.

Here is a great video (about 4 minutes) that the Director of WBT put together on class-yes.

This technique works! If you are in the hall and don't want to be silly then whisper it (even if they are already quiet, it cues them that you are going to give them instructions or talk to them further). If you are on the playground you can shout it like a monster. You don't have to be over the top silly or crazy. Tailor it to fit your personality.

I've made a set of free posters for the cues/callbacks of WBT. I plan to go through each one and explain it. If you would like these posters you can download them here or by clicking on the picture below!
http://bit.ly/1imAAcc

Try and it and tell me how it goes. I know you'll love it!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

End of Year Awards! I Have to Give One to Everyone?!?

                                                                Photo Credit: Melonheadz Illustrating

Do you ever have one of those classes? The one where the end of year rolls around, it's time for awards, and you just keep putting it off because you know you can't write one for each student? Maybe it's just me. You are probably a better teacher than I am.

Well I had a class like that two years ago. It was one of the hardest groups I have ever had!! Not only was I pregnant with my first and extremely sick the entire time, I also had the lowest group I've ever had and the most behavior problems I've ever had. I knew that writing awards for this group was going to be interesting.

Some of them were no problem. I had several that were easy: "Math Fact Master" and "Team Player". But what about the student that was in the principal's office almost daily, that never turned in his homework, that never filled out more than his name on a page? I was joking with my partner and we came up with things like "Best Breather" or "Best Blank Stare".

Okay so I never actually gave those last ones out. I did come up with one for every student eventually but it made me change my tactics.
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/End-of-Year-Award-Certificates-Nomination-Forms-Parent-Note-Diplomas-202-pgs-1182927

I came up with the "future" awards. This seemed to be much easier to get an award for everyone without stretching the truth. My drama queen? She became "The Future Movie Star". Talking about turning a positive into a negative, huh? :)

I switched off how I did my award ceremony. Sometimes I did it with just the class and sometimes I did it with parents invited. I taught at a low income school and sometimes it was hard to get parents to my room. I would call the student up and explain a little bit about why they were getting the award and then everyone would clap.

However, the powerhouse that is Pinterest helped me find some fun ways to have your awards ceremony.

http://tunstalltimes.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-last-day.html?m=1

Several pictures showed a "red carpet" made out of red butcher paper. I loved this! So easy to put together and the kids feel like celebrities.

I also really liked the backdrop on this one:
http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c8/16/c0/c816c0cdcfbcb7344608224f13ff5429.jpg
 
They took cheap dollar store table cloths and hung them up. Much cuter than anything I ever did!
 
At the end of the day, just letting your students know that you love them is what matters. I made sure that even my rough class knew that I loved them!
 
Do you give out end of year awards?
 

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