Monday, July 30, 2012

Blog Hop!

I found an amazing Blog Hop today! JOIN UP!

Join me at the blog hop!

    1.  what state you are in

    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1.  I'm in Missouri
2. This is going to be my second year of third grade! SO Excited!
3.  I taught fifth grade for seven years. I started in fifth (two years), looped with a class from 4th -5th, returned to fifth for four years, and started third grade last year.
4.  I just started blogging this June.
5. Visit lots of blogs and explore your own to make it better and better!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Enthusiastic ... First Hour with WBT!

Below is the forum post for Webcast Program 532

“Nothing is ever achieved without enthusiasm.”-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Enthusiasm…when both students and teachers are enthusiastic about education more learning takes place. This is my belief. Whole Brain Teaching fits this belief perfectly! 

I am always so excited about the first day of school… until I have been rambling to my students for over an hour about expectations.  The necessity of students learning the expectations is obvious to most of us… but are they really LEARNING the expectations when we lecture to them?

WBT – The First Hour provided the perfect solution to my first day of school problem. The first hour of MY personal school day has been running like a video in my head since Tuesday night. Each time it plays there are small variations! These variations are making the ONE weakness that I saw in the broadcast non-existent. The weakness was this: I don’t have a full hour with my students before I have to send them to music. Now I realize this isn’t a weakness with the ideas from the broadcast… but with my schedule. I can’t change that schedule, but I can adapt what I learned to make it work!

Setting up the classroom for the first day can be challenging. Thanks Coach B, for laying out a blueprint for not only our classroom setup, but also what to write on the board, AND what to say and WHERE to say it. I am really excited about making a flipchart (from index cards) for the first day. These cards will serve as cue cards. Most likely I won’t really have to look at them that day … but will use them as a way to learn my “lines”.

Deciding where my students should sit in the classroom should not take up HOURS of my classroom prep time. I don’t know my students yet… they are coming to my building for the first time as third graders. These kids haven’t even walked the halls as Sterling students yet! I see the power of assigning seats later in the first day. However, I have to decide if that works for me because of Meet the Teacher night. The night before school our students and their parents come to the classroom. Most of the students’ MAIN objective is to see where they will sit. How will they feel if I assign them a locker that night… but not a seat?  Definitely gives me food for thought. Students will probably take this news better than parents. Last year I had a parent upset because I didn’t have the students’ names on their cubbies yet!

Setting up the whiteboard for the first day is an awesome idea. Many of you probably think… is this a new idea for her? In a way … it is. I always put my name and date on the board and last year I had the scoreboard. Posting the days’ events on the board, hasn’t been a strong area for me. Previously, I have used the excuse that I like to roll with the students. If their interest is peaked by something I run with that. I don’t want to “not” get to something that was written on the board.

Here I go … confession time. I believe this excuse was covering the fact that I was that bleary eyed teacher in the mirror that Coach referred to in the video. In the video, Coach exclaimed, “The failure to master simple classroom procedures is one of the greatest failings of American Education!” That really hit me hard. Too much time is wasted in my classroom on getting out materials, waiting for everyone to be “ready.” NO MORE! At the end of last school year, I learned the power of the Three Peat! Lining up no longer took 2 minutes… it took less than 10 seconds! My class became pros at getting out their books! Now it is time for this to extend across all procedures.

What did I learn about Coach B’s discussion on the first hour of school? I need to pump up the enthusiasm so that my students can achieve more this school year. We are going to achieve everything we set our minds to… and so much more! So… with much enthusiasm and NO MORE measly excuses… I am looking forward to starting this new school year! WIB ON!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fourteen Days to TEACHER HEAVEN!

Fourteen DAYS is All it Took to Fall in LOVE... with the Super Improver Wall

I have had the pleasure of sharing a specific Super Improver Wall story with audiences at two conferences now. At the Union, MO conference only those in the Advanced WBT group heard my story. I also know that I have eluded to my stories in several blog and forum posts... so it is now time to write it all out!

In this post I am going to lay it all out. So those that have already heard my story will still want to tune in. My story starts with learning about the SIW in Wichita, KS and ends the before the last day of school!

Monday, April 30th, 2012: Wichita, KS WBT conference

I didn't know that this conference would change my teaching life (and hopefully the lives of my students) so very much. I was able to refresh my little bit of knowledge of WBT, but most importantly... I learned about the Super Improver Wall. Coach B talked about how to set up the wall and how to get the students engaged. I was hooked but still didn't understand the full power!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012: Back to School... but not my classroom.

The day I returned to my school I was out of the classroom for collaboration with my grade level. I had decided to start the SIW with only 17 days left of school! I needed something to keep them on their toes! Our school does a great job of recognizing students through out the year but the main programs we use were at an end. We work with the Kiwanis Club to recognize monthly TERRIFIC Kids. (Thoughtful, Enthusiastic, Respectful, Responsible, Inclusive, Friendly, Inquisitive, and Caring) We also have Weekly recognition of PAWS students (Prepared, Arrive on Time, work hard, Stay Focused).

I spent the evening printing WHITE/Rookie cards for each student. 

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
In the morning, WITH MY KIDS IN THE ROOM... I stapled white placards with their names to the PAWS bulletin board. Boy did I have their attention... I WAS TAKING DOWN THE PAWS... but their names were on the board... is it good... is it bad. Then I only put up the word rookie (mainly because I forgot to print the other words on color).

Bulletin Board with PAWS!
Ta Da! Super Improver Wall!

I talked to them about PAWS and Terrific Kids being finished for the year but I still wanted to see those good behaviors. THEN I told them that at this time of year I get sad. "Tell Mrs. Schuler: Don't Be SAD" I wiped my eyes for reinforcement.

Then I told them in the past my fifth graders (this is my first year with third graders) have stopped trying to learn. They didn't care anymore. "Do you want Mrs. Schuler to be sad?" "NO WAY"
I then explained the SIW and told them with only 11 days left not many people will move up the wall... "unless...oh never mind" "WHAT? ... unless what Mrs. Schuler" LOVING IT!

"Unless I see MAJOR improvement in line behavior, handwriting neatness, friendly behavior... Oh I am not just looking for GOOD behavior... I am looking for IMPROVEMENT!"

They were hooked! I started Read to Self.. and EVERYONE of them was reading silently without attitude or faking... time to put some stars on the board!

Now... I must digress from the SIW wall for awhile for you to get the FULL affect... remember we are still on DAY 1!

I came close to tears on this day! In addition to starting the Super Improvers Wall ... I had also recently introduced the Crazy Professor Reading game! I had been introducing the steps one or two at a time. Today while playing the kids were REALLY enjoying the Q&A part. I had just turned away from them to look at the SIW when I heard a voice I didn't recognize.

 I swiveled around and saw one of my quiet little girls nearly jumping up and down grinning ear to ear as she asked a WONDERFUL higher level thinking question with a DRAMATIC voice and AWESOME gestures. At first I was speechless! I quickly recovered and called "Class Class" They nearly suffered whiplash in there eagerness to comply! That also threw me off! I said "Class I am so excited our THIRD super improver sticker for the day is AWESOME. This student is usually very quiet and I have to REALLY lean in to hear her." I described what I had seen... and she starts smiling. When I call her name you would have thought I had just crowned her Miss America. At that moment I truly saw the value of the SIW ... this little girl had been hiding in the shadows. When I pulled her out she SPARKLED! Her effort the rest of the day blew me away... she earned herself another sticker... I would have given her more but I didn't want to over do it on our first SIW day!

The next sticker awarded went to this little girls Crazy Professor game partner. I started by saying that at first I thought this person's enthusiasm was a direct result of our last Super Improver. (Before I could say anything ... the little girl started jumping up and down tapping her partner saying... "she is talking about you... you are a super improver... isn't it wonderful!" I am already tearing up again. What a moment!

Friday, May 4th - Wheels started turning

I was getting really excited about the success of the Super Improver Wall in my class room! There was ONE student I hadn't reached yet. He wasn't in the room all the time. This friend... his name will be Max for the purpose of this blog. Max is a student with Autism. Every time he entered my room from a special class he would wander around make distracting sounds, lay on others desks, and talk to his buddies. You could sometimes see the frustration on the faces of my students when he walked in the room.

I was in the middle of a math lesson when Max walked in. He started to wander but his eyes caught the Super Improver Wall. He was frozen. He stared at the board for awhile, then he blurted out... "What is that?" My students and I explained this to him and he silently went back to his seat. WOW! You could tell his mind was working.

Monday, May 7th - WOW!

Same time as yesterday, Max comes into the classroom. You can see him start to wander... but he stops again looks at the board and goes DIRECTLY TO HIS SEAT! I am shocked. The students looked at me and back at Max. I was so overcome I almost went on with my lesson. My kids started waving their hands like crazy. They saw I wasn't reacting to their hands so a couple blurted out ... doesn't Max deserve a star? So of course, he got it and was so proud! The Super Improver Wall had hooked this kiddo!

FAST FORWARD: Things are going swimmingly! Stars are flying!

Monday, May 14th - SO MUCH IN ONE DAY!

I decided that I would introduce the Genius Ladder today... no big deal right...nine days left of school. Oh yeah, today is also dress rehearsal for the third grade music program taking place TONIGHT!

(For more about my Genius Ladder Lesson read my previous posts)

My Genius Ladder

Below is an a part of a previous blog ... but it is related to the Super Improver Story:

[ As we were reviewing, Max back to the classroom from his special class. Max 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.

Max raised his hand. I hesitated. Often when I call on Max, 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 I 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 were 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" Max 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 Max 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 Max'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 Andrew, you did a really good job with your gestures" I was floored... not only had he participated, waited patiently and showed his comprehension of noun and sentence, he had also noticed another students success!]

Max decided that he didn't like the second color on the SIW wall blue... he wanted it green. So since I wasn't attached to my colors yet... I rearranged! 

That night as the students were coming to my room for the music program I was able to share the SIW wall with several parents. A lot of parents were able to see the SUPER IMPROVER WALL! This was magic. I got to hear the kids explain the Wall to their parents. Even the kids with just one star explained the wall with pride. I just LOVE this! I am still in absolute wonderment that kids are working SO hard for stickers on a piece of paper... but at the same time I can see that they are NOT just stickers and papers to them... they are trophies that they will hold in their heart! WOW!

May 23rd - Day before last day of school

Wow! I wasn't ready for this! The last weeks of school had been so smooth thanks to the SUPER IMPROVER WALL. The day was a perfectly normal school day... we held instruction just as we had the last three weeks! (Last day was a planned celebration). I was feeling bummed because all my kids had come close to 10 stars but hadn't done it yet. It happened someone reached the GREEN level... notice I say green and not Phenom. You guessed it! Max was my ONLY student to reach the phenom level... and he was so proud of himself. Thus the reason my Phenom level will probably ALWAYS be Green!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Four Mirrors

“Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” Ernest Holmes (American author and founder of the Religious Science Movement 1887 - 1960)

Today was a great day at the conference in Union, MO! I look forward to sharing more of my experience but I just have to share the NEW WBT mirror that I learned. Many of you know "Mirrors" and some even know "Mirror Words", but have you heard of the other two variations?

First for those of you unfamiliar with WBT mirrors... I will catch you up! Mirrors is one of the CORE 4 of Whole Brain Teaching (Class/Yes, Scoreboard, Teach/Okay, and Mirrors). Mirrors is a great way for you to see which of your students are engaged. You can take one quick look at your class while using mirrors and see the engagement level.

Mirrors: While teaching a gesture for a new topic you may want the kids to practice before releasing them into the Teach/Okay. Say "Mirrors" and the hold you two hands palms out, your students will repeat and do the same. As you gesture your students are mirroring your gestures. You can even do a Mirrors check and move you hands all around checking to be sure all classroom mirrors are working.

Mirror with words: Mirror words is the next step. This time as you say mirror words bring up you right hand as you did before, but bring your left hand to your mouth and then draw it away as if you were pulling a string of gum from your mouth. This time as you speak your voice takes on a cadence. Speak fewer words at a time because the kids are not only mirroring your gestures but parroting your words. You speak and gesture first they follow.

ARE YOU READY FOR THE NEW FORMS OF MIRROR? Good thing you are just reading this or I might make you BEG! Warning: Keep in mind that it is a LONG YEAR. Keep the next two variations in your BIG back pocket for as long as possible!

MAGIC MIRRORS: In this variation, the creativity lands with the students. You say magic mirrors and hold your hand up like with regular mirrors but waggle your fingers. Then YOU drop your hands and begin speaking. YOU do not gesture... the students create their own gestures to go with your words! AMAZING!

Mirror Ventriloquist: This is great for those SQUIRRELS in your classroom that like to have attention! Call one of these angels up to the front of the room with you. Stand behind them and you speak while the student acts as the ... ummmm... we'll say puppet. You are speaking and the student facing the class creates the gestures! SO MUCH FUN! I was able to experience this first hand today because I was Coach B's... um... puppet!

I started this forum post with the quote by Ernest Holmes. "Life is a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” This quote is a great thought to go with the third and fourth mirror variations. When you give the students the opportunity to create their own gestures to YOUR words they are making more personal connections to the content being taught!