Thursday, October 29, 2015

1st Week Reflection

Almost done with my first week of totally WBT!  Some very interesting observations.  My most difficult class has become my BEST class! Not only is their behavior on point, but they are engaged active learners.  It is truly teaching heaven!  Like I said in my previous post, I have always incorporated the "Class!/Yes"  attention getter in my classes.  I learned about leveling up somewhere in the last week so I decided to level up that great class.  They ATE it up!  I love this because it was starting to go to their head a tiny bit getting all of these compliments and they were kind of (but not even really) slipping.  So I had knocked them back to Class a few times and the message was loud and clear.  They love being the best! 
Here is another procedure I'm having a lot of success with, it is the scoreboard game. Again, something I've always kind of done, but I took it up a notch this week and it is working beautifully.   Basically when they do things right/good they get a point, when they need reminders or are off task I take a point.  If they have more tally marks than me at the end of class they win, if I have more I win and if we are even its a tie.  My school does a "Battle of the Homerooms" contest each month so I play into that.  100 points if they win, -100 if they lose and zero for a tie.  They have the opportunity to win 500 points on a full week or -500 which could be quite embarrassing!  I also have a small board where I record their points so they know their standings. I'm hoping a little competition will grow, but so far they haven't really went in that direction, however the "great" class is super excited about their winning streak!

The biggest thing I've noticed this week since I fully committed to WBT is that everything seems easier.  Before I would fall off the scoreboard game or not use silly voices/variety in my class/yes.  That is no longer an issue. And I NEVER used the Rules/Hands and Eyes/ Teach-Okay procedures but they have become second nature in only a few days!  The Teach-Okay is the one I need the most work on figuring out gestures, but I'm confident that will come and become more deliberate with this process.   I think it is also worth mentioning that I have read "Teach Like a Pirate" by Dave Burgess and this is making me feel more "pirate-like"

Next Wednesday I give my first tests since starting and I'm excited to see the results :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dipping My Toes into Whole Brain Teaching

I'm not sure where to start with this, but I want to start documenting my use of Whole Brain Teaching structures in my classroom.  I learned about this teaching style back in 2009 and have implemented two of the techniques my entire teaching career, first  the Class!/Yes!  For me, this is my favorite and most effective way to get the class attention.  I say "Class!" and the students stop what they are doing and say "Yes!"  They are supposed to say it exactly the way I say it and I'm supposed to mix it up and say it fun ways, but I'm guilty of not doing that.  This week I have been better about it though.
The other thing I've always used to some extent is the scoreboard game.  You basically make a t-chart with either a Smiley and Frowny face on each side or Teacher/Students and you give a tally mark on the student/smiley side when they do what you want or a tally mark on the teacher/frowny side when they are doing the wrong thing.  You make sure you keep the score difference no more than 3 so that they don't give up and lose interest.  The students are trying to win by getting more tally marks on their side or the smiley side.  At our school we have a Battle of the Homeroom competition each month, so I tie this in.  If the class wins they get 100 points, if they lose its -100 points and if we tie its 0 points.  I will make another post on this and show the board I use to keep track of this.
And that was where I stopped with whole brain teaching.  
This year has been a weird year for me so far.  I am a huge planner and have always spent the summer planning out my year and have all of these great new ideas I want to implement.  This year I did not.  I think in some ways I started the year a little burned out.  I'm not sure why this is, and I really tried to fight it and figure it out.  Anyway, what kind of led me to start implementing more of WBT, was that even though I have a pretty good grip on classroom management,  I wanted to run a tighter ship. Now I'm not one to be the mean military style teacher,  I want kids to have fun while they are learning, so I figured why not give this a try.  
I  started  out with the 5 rules.  I've always had my doubts about using the 5th rule "Keep your dear teacher happy" but I decided to keep it in and I told them it was like a bonus for them since they always make me happy. We'll see how that plays out.
So last week I taught them the 5 rules, hands and eyes and teach/ok.  Here are some thoughts on each:
The 5 rules are working well, students have the hardest time with raising their hand before they talk so when that happens instead of reprimanding the student I hold up two fingers and say "Rule 2!" and they all have to say the rule with the hand gestures.  They are seeing that this gets old really quick and it is beginning to sink in!  The rules really are effective and I have referred back to each of them in every class. 
The next thing they learned was hands and eyes, when I need to give them directions I say "Hands and eyes! and they repeat it back and fold their hands on the desk.  I love this!  It makes it so easy for me to make sure everyone is listening and I have their attention.
Finally I taught the teach/ok routine.  This is used for direct instruction chunked into short bits.  I teach something then clap twice and say "Teach!"  They clap twice and say "Ok!" then turn to their neighbor and pretty much repeat what I said.  Its loud, crazy and fun.  However, in order for this piece to work you need to have hand gestures. This is where I'm a little concerned, I'm not sure how to make up the hand gestures for the math I teach.  I figure for now I'm using this more for the routines and procedures, but I would like to see how it impacts learning in my class.  
Oh and it was fun to watch the reactions of my students to all of this.  For the most part, they loved it, it is definitely NOT boring.  I do have one or two students in each class who give the eye roll and look so annoyed by the whole thing.  I'm not worried about them, I think they will come around.