Sunday, May 20, 2012

Genius Ladder

Part 2

If you are reading this blog make sure you read the previous blog to get some background information.

When my students returned from Art and PE, the camera was set up and our Literacy Coach was there ready to watch the lesson!

I called the students one row at a time to the carpet in front of the Genius Ladder board. When I called them to the carpet, they replied "Carpet, Carpet, Carpet". (I love the three-peat procedures!) They were ALL smiles as we got started! They wanted to know what the Genius ladder was all about.

I rubbed my hands together and said, "It is finally time to learn about the Genius Ladder. Tell your neighbor how excited you are to learn about the Genius Ladder." They went wild! I could tell they were really excited. CLASS CLASS! YES YES!  Wow, did I have their attention.

I asked the question, "What is the Genius Ladder?" I had them ask each other and called them back. "The Genius Ladder is a fun game that we are going to use to become better writers!"
The Genius Ladder (pretend to climb a ladder)
is a fun game (pretend to move a game piece on an imaginary board)
That we are going to use (we used a gesture that we had created for the vocab word community)
to become better writers. (write on imaginary board/paper)

I had them mirror this statement, and used mirror words.

"The first step of the Genius Ladder is the BLAH Sentence. (make a face and make the sentence gesture)
Teach - Okay
Class - Yes
"Our blah sentence is: The students sing"
"Is this a sentence?"  (They replied no to this... which was perfect because we reviewed what a sentence is)

I won't go into too much detail here because I hope to post the video very soon!

After reviewing sentence, noun and verb. I introduced the second step of the genius ladder.

"The second step of the Genius Ladder is the SPICY SENTENCE"
"What is a Spicy Sentence?" Teach-Okay  Class - Yes
"What is a Spicy Sentence? A spicy sentence is a BLAH sentence PLUS an adjective!"
A spicy sentence (wave hand near mouth like you have eaten something spicy then make sentence gesture)
is a blah sentence (gesture above)
Plus (make a plus sign with pointer fingers)
an adjective ( I made the gesture for adjective... but my kids didn't know it yet!)

"Oh NO! We haven't learned the gesture for adjective yet. Tell your partner I REALLY want to know the gesture for an adjective"

We learned the gesture for adjective and continued learning about spicy sentences. We practiced adding different adjectives to our Blah Sentence. When we were finished I sent them to their seats to write as many different spicy sentence with our sentence frame "The ______________ students sing." I told them they only had four minutes. They did an amazing job. In four minutes I had a paper that assessed not only understanding of adjectives but sentences as well!

I was in Teacher Heaven and my Literacy Coach LOVED it. She really liked the pace of the lesson and felt that the kids were engaged and really learned! WAHOO!

Thanks for Reading... and STAY "PAWSitive"

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Leading to the Genius Ladder

I know in my last post I promised that I would talk about Mind Soccer and the Crazy Professor Reading Game... but I have decided to head another direction.

With eight days left of the school year, I decided to introduce my students to the Genius Ladder. I presented this lesson to my students on Monday. I spent a good chunk of Sunday afternoon and evening preparing for this lesson. I set up the Genius Ladder board in my classroom and created a script to go from to keep me on track. I didn't want to miss anything. I wanted to make sure to include all the steps of the 5 step lesson template.

My class hasn't been using power pix all year, so in order to introduce the Genius Ladder I had to review some power pix and introduce others. As I created the script I realized that I didn't want the objective of the lesson to be about the Genius Ladder specifically. My kids had been struggling remembering what an adjective is so that become my main objective. I would take the question "What is an adjective?" through all five steps of the lesson template. I didn't want the lesson to be too long, however I knew that I had a lot to cover. So my plan was to introduce the first to steps of the genius ladder and teach "adjective" PLUS review other concepts in 25 minutes (this was not to include the students doing the Critical Thinking Piece). I knew that I couldn't talk for 25 minutes... so I planned very carefully Teach-Okay breaks through-out the lesson.

I invited our literacy coach to see the lesson because I wanted her to see the academic side of whole brain teaching. She had commented several times on the classroom management that she had seen in my room. I knew she would LOVE the writing concepts I was introducing! I wasn't sure when the morning started WHEN I would be teaching the lesson because I had asked the literacy coach when she could see the lesson. I found out near the beginning of the day that she could come in at 2:45. This worked to my GREAT advantage!

Below is an account of how many day progressed.
Monday MORNING: Today is the day of the third grade spring music program, BUGZ. That means that our morning started with program rehearsal. I knew my kids would be BUZZING with excitement about the program. However, something else soon had them BUZZING. I had set up the Genius Ladder Sunday evening and had even taken the opportunity to make a more presentable scoreboard using colored masking tape. The kids were immediately drawn to the board. They were excited and asking questions. I was shrugging them off and saying "You'll see!" This drove them CRAZY. In addition to the genius ladder and new score board... there was also a piece of construction paper on the board CLEARLY covering SOMETHING! They just HAD to know what was under the paper. (I decided to write my chart of adjective / noun pairs on the board ahead of time so that I didn't have to waste lesson time.)

We had a productive rehearsal and we had a long day ahead of us before we could learn about the genius board. Not to mention... excitement was building for tomorrows field trip. This day could have easily been a terrible day with all this excitement... but no... they were to concerned about getting smilies and SUPER IMPROVER STARS to let a little excitement ruin our day!

After lunch we did a quick review of the noun and sentence power pix. I openly admit that I did this because I would be VIDEOING the lesson later and I didn't want the kids to go BLANK when I asked them to REVIEW THESE CONCEPTS!

As we were reviewing, one of our friends came back to the classroom from his special class. Our friend sometimes has trouble transitioning. He will often cause a disruption in class. When he entered this time he knew he couldn't disrupt because we were doing gestures. He was watching and hadn't yet started to color his Pokemon pictures. Just as he was about to grab for the coloring page... I asked for volunteers to lead the class in the lesson for a noun. He was interested. One of my girls came up and did an EXCELLENT job for reteaching "What is a noun?" I asked for another WBT leader. My friend raised his hand. I hesitated. Often when I call on this friend he takes the opportunity to make his classmates laugh. I sensed something different this time, so I asked him, "Do you know what I am asking you to do if you come up here?" He said, "YES! You want me to lead the class in "What is a noun?" I was impressed and let him come to the front. He immediately said "Class". My kids giggled and then responded "YES". "Mirrors"... more giggling "Mirrors". He paused looked at me and nodded. Then he did the WHOLE THING. "What is a noun? A noun is a person, a place or a thing" The kids mirror but some was making the gesture for "idea". In my classroom we added to the definition of a noun. We say "A noun is a person, a place, a thing, or an idea" Our friend had not been in the room when I taught the added part.He said "I didn't ask for that gesture" I stepped in to inform him what they were doing and he said "Oh, Okay! Mirrors ... and an idea" Then he sat down. There was a 15-20 second pause and then my whole class erupted in applause. They were so proud of their classmate.

 I was moved to tears. Most of the kids saw this! I tried to move on to review Sentences but my kids hands went in the air like crazy. They all wanted to know why I hadn't given Michael a SUPER IMPROVER sticker. They were right... and they were SO PROUD OF HIM! I was proud of them. I gave him his star and we all gave him a "37 finger WOO" ... This was our friend's idea! I was able to move on and I still had his attention. I asked for a Whole Brain Leader for Sentence. He raised his hand. Usually when he raises his hand he will start calling out my name if he thinks I am ignoring him. This time he sat with his hand PATIENTLY raised. I was tempted to call on him ... but I wanted to give others a chance. He handled this beautifully. He mirrored the other Student Leaders. When it was time to line up for Art, he didn't complain that I had not called on him. Instead he went to a classmate that had been called on and said "Hey A_____, you did a really good job with your gestures" I was floored... not only had he participated, waited patiently and show his comprehension of noun and sentence he had also noticed another students success!

This BLOG is already TOO long so, I will continue this blog this weekend to tell you how my Genius Lesson went. I can't wait to tell you more!

Stay "Pawsitive"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Thank you Wichita! (Five Step WBT Lesson Template)

I mentioned in my first blog that I went to another Whole Brain Teaching conference. The Para in my classroom joined me at the one day conference in Wichita. He had been interested in the bits of WBT that he had seen in my classroom and wanted to see more! Neither of us was disappointed. I was refreshed hearing some of the information again. Some of the information I had forgotten... but it made so much sense after using the BIG SEVEN all year long!

I have been like a TEACHER ON FIRE! I keep asking myself... why wasn't I doing more this year. I had really just been dabbling in whole brain teaching.

When we returned from Wichita I was actually out of the classroom for another day (Spring caught up with me... gotta love allergies). HOWEVER, my Para had really amped up our rules practice. He had them sit on the floor and review the rules! Apparently they had a blast with this! When I returned they were so excited to tell me about the rules practice. PLUS, they had started recording their records for different 3 peats. LINES, BOOKS, ... they couldn't wait to see if they could break their records!

I was reminded of the FIVE STEP WBT LESSON TEMPLATE. Oh how could I have forgotten about the YES - NO WAY test? My kids LOVE this... and I can see what EVERYONE knows!

For those of you unfamiliar or new to WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING... Here is a quick layout of the five steps:

Step 1 Question: Ask a question (For example: What is a noun?)

Step 2 Answer: Give the answer to the question (maybe even introduce the Power Pix if there is one) with a gesture.

Step 3 Expand: Expand the answer with examples. A table is a noun BECAUSE it is a thing. A teacher is a noun BECAUSE it is a person. A classroom is a noun BECAUSE it is a place.

(I was also reminded at the conference about the BECAUSE gesture. This is wonderful for reinforcing the point)

Step 4 Test: Test for Comprehension: I have been mainly using the YES-NO WAY

I ask a question like... Is a pencil a noun? Students pump their fist and say YES!

Is running a noun? Student point to forehead with both hands and push them out and so NO WAY... as if they can't BELIEVE that I would think running is a noun.

 Step 5 Critical Thinking: Truthfully because of the craziness of the last weeks of school I have only had time for mini lessons here and there... so I haven't been all out on the Critical thinking. But whenever I can remind them of what we have learned and encourage them to use the information in the letters they are writing to their parents and to next years first graders I have been doing it!

(You can find more detailed information in the eBook Whole Brain Teaching Model Classroom on the WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING website)

Okay this BLOG post is long enough... I am looking forward to writing about THE CRAZY PROFESSOR READING GAME and Mind Soccer...

STAY "PAWS"itive

Friday, May 11, 2012

My First BLOG...

I am new to blogging... I have always been shy about putting my thoughts out there... but I can't resist any longer. I have become BEYOND curious, BEYOND enthusiastic, BEYOND inspired, and BEYOND ... BEYOND about WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING. Last summer, while frantically looking up third grade information (I was going to be switching from 5th to 3rd grade)  I stumbled upon I knew that I wanted a new approach to management in my classroom. I had been  following the BIST program/philosophy since my first year of teaching. I LOVED (still do) BIST. ( I wanted something more! I kept seeing references to WBT and the five rules. (I couldn't believe people would actually post such a daring and direct rule(Keep your Dear Teacher Happy). This rule made sense. I wanted these rules. Could this mysterious WBT be what I was looking for?  Simple answer... YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I found more posts on proteacher about WBT... I finally found their website and videos.... WHOA! I found out they would be IN MISSOURI! "Only" a four hour drive and I would be getting FREE training for this unique approach. I signed up for the conference with our school's new art teacher. (That was another blessing that WBT brought me). I fell in love with WBT at this conference. I wanted school to start RIGHT AWAY! I was going to use it ALL... I was going to be a pro...!

Then the reality of teaching a new grade level sunk in! I introduced the Big Seven on the first day of school. They kids LOVED it. I was amazed by the reaction I got from the kids. That was as far as I got! However, my school year has been successful.

When I started looking ahead to next year (I wouldn't be new to third grade anymore!) ... I started getting fired up about WBT again. I tried Mind Soccer... I had been stubbornly avoiding it all year. I went to a WBT conference in Wichita (another four hour drive away). This time I went with a newly graduated educator (and a para in my classroom). We got fired up together. We were ready to bring our WBT "A" game to the classroom. AND WE DID!

In the last 15 days of school WE have:
- successfully implemented the Super Improvers Wall.
- started a power pix wall
- become an expert and variations of a ten finger WOO!
- given ourselves the most enjoyable end of school time that I have experienced in my nine years of teaching.

Stay tuned for more journals from my trips to TEACHER HEAVEN!