Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My First WBT Year ends

It's been a long time since I posted. Elementary school teachers are the only profession besides circus performers that have to tear down and put away at the end of each performance (year to us), even though they will be putting up and taking out the very same things! 

I must say that my end of the school year with the students went quite smoothly, in large part to WBT.
I used my scoreboard effectively...the kids were working for 2 minutes of a song...for each win on the scoreboard they received a star. Ten stars equaled the 2 minute song.  I was able to stretch this out for the last week of school. The class finally won the song at the end of school on Thursday. On Friday, right before they left for the year, they heard Beat It and danced their hearts out.

Using WBT really helped build class unity. Using class leaders was instrumental in this process. I didn't have buttons this year, but I found some old buttons at a thrift store, so I am going to make some leader buttons this summer. I read on a WBT forum posting that there is an award that can be given out to class leaders, and I would like to use that next year.

Speaking of next year, I plan on implementing many parts of WBT that I only dabbled in this year.
I want to use the lesson plan template, the Power Pix, Superspeed 100 math, and possibly Superspeed reading.  I am also going to dig into the brain toys. From day one we will be using the Big Seven, and Mind Soccer!!

Even though this has been one of the worst years ever for teaching in the wasy  of horrible attacks by politicians on teachers, lay offs, pay cuts, increase in class size, and rediculous mandates by the administration, WBT reenergized me and kept me focused on what is truly important: finding ways to get our children thinking and learning.
Thanks to all the WBT staffers and wibbiteers for motivating me to become a better teacher.

Karen Chavez

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lesson learned from trying to make a video

Over the past few weeks, I've been video taping myself using WBT with my class. The things that I learned while review the videos were not exactly what I expected to learn.  First of all, I learned that the camera really adds 10 pounds (at least) but only on me, not my students! Go figure. Second, I often forget to comb the back of my hair. Third, due to spontaneous menopausal hot flashes, I sweat a lot!! And finally, I use the word "ok" waaay too much! 

Kidding aside, I did learn a lot. I noticed that certain kids were not responding to my verbal and physical cues quickly. Also, I was not using the scoreboard enough. Of course, I was a bit nervous because I knew I was video taping myself, but viewing myself helped me to see where I need to work. Finally, as I reviewed a lesson on teaching about reference materials, I was able to see where I should have added the use of a brain toy, such as "an example popper."

Today I was very conscious of using the scoreboard more effectively and I had a big talk with my class about following directions quickly. I used a suggested dialogue that was discussed on the WBT forum to guide my talk about following directions as quick as lightening.

After Saturday's webinar on Brain Toys, I used invisible sock puppets to review pronouns..It went like this
Sock Puppet 1- What is a noun?
Sock Puppet 2- A noun is a person, place, or thing.
S P 1- What is an ex. of a noun?
S P 2- An ex. of a noun is lion?
SP1- What is a pronoun?
SP2- A pronouns takes the place of a noun
SP1- What pronoun takes the place of lion?
SP2- The pronoun it takes the place of lion.

I modeled-the students mirrored me.
Then they did Teach..Ok using their invisible sock puppets giving their own nouns and pronouns.
The fun level was high!

I also used the Brain Toy arm world as we reviewd sequencing for the state testing.
There was a lot of WBT strategies being used, but these two were hightlights for me because I am struggling to use more brain toys.

An update on my level two practice board:  Today being Monday, I had 3 students who forgot to get their parent letters signed. They had to come in and practice at each recess. I reminded them that they need to bring in their letters or they will continue to have to come in to practice.

We start state testing tomorrow. Send good wishes my way please.

Karen Chavez
Dieting today so that I'll look better in my next video attempt.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting the hang of Brain Toys

Today I felt that I used the air white board effectively. We were reviewing finding the main idea in a story. The day before we had used a diagram with the main idea in the middle and the details in circles around it. after we had identified the main idea, I had the students take out their imaginary white boards and we drew the diagram and "wrote in" the main idea and details as we had done yesterday. Then we did teach..ok, and the students taught each other using the diagram.

I'm so excited to be learning to use brain toys, that I am using my imaginary white board and drawing myself a great big ice cream sundae to celebrate!!

Karen Chavez

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Class Leaders and Trying to Master Mind Soccer

I decided to select what I call "class leaders" to help run the clssroom. I have slowly over the past 3 weeks selected exemplary students to do the following tasks: class...yes, hands and eyes, mirror, lines, and class rules.  I am telling my class that I am continually on the look out to select more class leaders. This approach is working for me because I now have the majority of my class working to become leaders.  Today, I had my first lunch time meeting with my "leaders" where I discussed with them the importance of being good role models for the rest of the class. They each shared what they thought they were good at. I specifically modeled for them how to do positive trash talk because yesterday I had problems with that in mind soccer. They practiced positive trash talking. We'll see how that goes when we play mind soccer again.

In reading class, we played a rousing game of mind soccer. I feel that I am getting better at managing the game. I am remembering to have the sides cheer and groan after each answer. I am refining how the sides answer. (shout out the answer once) and I am keeping up the pace. Today, we had a great game and everyone left feeling exhilarated.

Despite having to prepare for the state testing next week, mind soccer helped make this a pretty good day.

Karen Chavez

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Getting started with level two of the scoreboard and working out the kinks of Mind Soccer

Yesterday I began using the practice cards for level two of the scoreboard. I sent home the practice letters with four students. Two didn't get returned, one came back signed but asking me to call, and one came back with a note saying how her child was definitely in need of more practice in making smart choices. The two nonreturns were told to bring them tomorrow and I called the parent. That turned out to be a very positive phone call :) I had only 2 students who needed to practice today. (Only one was a repeat customer.) far....ok.

On to Mind Soccer. We were in the midst of an exciting game where we were reviewing math concepts. One student shouted out that the other team was stupid, so I quickly shouted out,"Penalty shot." I let the other team answer a question and they made a "goal." I reminded them of positive trash talk. Then I asked them to give some positive trash talk. The negative student and 2 of his pals refused to participate, even after I encouraged them. After giving them a chance, I reminded everyone about keeping the ref happy and gave the ball to the other team. Mr Negative said, "this game is dumb." I quickly responded that he needed extra practice keeping his dear teacher happy and gave him a practice card so he will have to practice tomorrow at recess.

When he said that the game was dumb, several students cried out, "No its not. It's fun." And to think we were were reviewing for the state testing coming next week.

I decided that tomorrow at lunch I will have a meeting of my class leaders. We will discuss how they can help keep Mind Soccer fun by being positive and leading the positive trash talking. We'll see how it goes.

Tired but not giving up,
Karen Chavez

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching is Better When You Do it With a Friend

Today my class came up with new scoreboard titles. For smilies, I drew a smilie face swimming. When the students get a smilie point, I say "get ready to go swimming" and they pretend they are going to jump in the pool and shout "Cowabunga!"   For the frownie side, a student suggested "Wipe Out!" So if I put a frownie point, I say, "awe!! You fell off the surf board" and they shout "Wipe Out!"  I thought that it was pretty cool that my kids came up with suggestions!

After school today, another teacher at my school who is using WBT and I got together and discussed what parts of WBT we have been using and how far along we are. We are both really learning the classroom management parts right now. We decided that we will be working til the end of the year on Brain Toy strategies Question/Answer, Adder, and Conclusion. It was great sharing our WBT experiences.

In further WBT news, this was my second day with the Practice Cards. I sent home the practice letters with 5 students. We'll see if they get them signed. I was a little wary because I didn't send out a letter to parents letting them know I was going to be starting the new procedure so hopefully all will go well.

Power to the Teacher,
Karen Chavez

Monday, April 25, 2011

How I heard about Whole Brain Teaching

It all started in November of 2010. I was taking a tour of a school in our district that had been incorporating some new teaching strategies called Whole Brain Teaching. Basically, I observed "Class...Yes""" and "Hands and Eyes." I was intrigued to see where these ideas had originated, so I went to the Whole Brain Teaching website and began reading about the way WBTeaching activates all the parts of a child's mind and helps him/her retain information. Soon after that, I was lucky to participate in two all day workshops with Mr. Chris Biffle, one of the founders of Whole Brain Teaching. All I can say is that I was hooked!

I began my WBT journey in November and am still at it today.
Here are the strategies I have implemented so far...
1. The attention getters...Class..Yes  and Hands and Eyes.   I am getting pretty good at these. I am learning how to vary the Class...Yes by changing them to other call and responses like  "My loyal subjects"  and Yes, my queen. There was a whole list of suggestions posted on under forum for General Education.
1. The Rules- Some of the common sense class rules I have ever encountered.
2. The scoreboard....I am definitely getting the hang of the point system, the use of the 3 point difference to create excitement (and stimulate the lymbic system,) and ways to vary the scoreboard to keep the children's interest.
3. Teach...ok....Teaching in small chunks and then having students teach what you have said, using gestures, to their partners.
As it turns out, these first three steps are really just the "tip of the iceberg". There is a 5 step lesson plan that incorporates teach ok, but also other brain toys to create deep understanding for students. This is where I need a great deal of work to increase my understanding.

That is a short synopsis of what I have been doing so far. for today, I introduced Level Two of the Scoreboard!! This is where the students who are still not on board with the Scoreboard. I actually have a pretty good group of students, but there are about 6 or 7, depends on the day, that don't follow directions quickly enough, or don't pay attention. I finally felt that I had worked the Scoreboard as much as I could. I was continually giving frownies to the class when really it was just one student who wasn't on board, so we will see how this goes. I had about 4 students who had to stay in at recess to practice rules, but I did not send home parent letters today. I will initiate that tomorrow, after telling them that today was just the "practice run.: 

Oh--I also have been trying to videotape myself teaching. I will be posting something on youtube soon so that Chris Biffle can see how I'm doing, but believe me, it will be a pretty rough video. best to all those teachers out there in the trenches doing their best for our kids!
Karen Chavez
second grade teacher and proud of it!