Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday nights... never boring for WBT Teachers!

I love Monday nights! I look forward to learning something new from Coach B at

During the summer, most Monday nights are open chats. We talk with each other about questions we have, great ideas that come up, and overall enjoy talking with our fellow Whole Brainers (aka Wibbeteers).

This week we were all pleasantly surprised when Coach showed up and talked with us live for about 15 minutes! He had new stuff to share! If you missed it, too bad so sad! JUST KIDDING! If you missed it... he has already added the mini webcast to the video library!

Coach B shared information that is new AS OF THIS MORNING! Coach B is always thinking! I for one am so thankful we have access to his continuous feed of information! An important idea in his new book "Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Students" is, "The longer we talk, the more students we lose." Coach is always finding new ways to shorten the amount of time we are talking to our students and increasing the time they are talking to each other about what we have taught them. His first new idea he shared tonight is an example of how to keep teacher talk brief!

When introducing the Teach-Okay, we had previously asked them to make a full turn to their neighbor. We still want them to make this full body turn. The full body turn helps activate the motor cortex. However, instead of saying, "Using a full body turn, tell your neighbor what I just told you about ___________", we are now going to simplify it by saying "face your neighbor". This will not happen automatically, we will scaffold the process. We will teach them this routine by practicing, "Face your neighbor, face me, face your neighbor, face me,..." All the while reinforcing rule 1: Follow directions quickly!

As they start to really turn to each other... not just turning their necks... but turning their full body... we will take it to the next step. The next step is to have them BOTH raise their hands when they face each other. Having their hands automatically raised, not only activates their Visual Cortex it will also help them remember that BOTH of them should be using gestures. One is talking and making the gestures while the other is mirroring the gestures. When this process happens, they are activating their mirror neurons. Don't forget by teaching they are speaking (activating their Broca's area) and by listening they are using the Wernicke's Area.

When we ask them to "face me", we want them to have folded hands. Folded hands in WBT is the listening position. An important principle to WBT teaching is keep it fun. When the kids are facing us we need to be smiling! We want to have the Limbic System engaged! The Limbic System controls our emotions. Teach Okay... is a prime example of why we are WHOLE BRAIN TEACHERS!

Okay, the above information was great to hear... but Coach had MORE to share! He wanted to tell us how to scaffold ORAL WRITING! OH SWEET MAMA! He was full of great information as always. If you haven't done much with Oral writing please check out Webcast 502

Below are Coach's Steps for scaffolding Oral Writing.

1) Teach Okay - One person talks and gestures while the other listens and mirrors the gestures. Make sure you switch so that both people have a turn to talk AND listen.

2) Air Capitalization (beginning of the sentence) and Punctuation

3) Air Capitalization of Proper Nouns

4) Bring the words to life (There is that Limbic System connection) Speak with lots of emotion!

5) Use the Because Clapper

6) Adder sentences. (We want the students to start giving more than one sentence answers.)

7) We want to teach the gesture for indenting paragraphs. (This sets them up to be able to speak MULTIPLE paragraph answers!)

8) Speak with Adjectives. We want the students to use adjectives in their oral writing.

Coach stopped here tonight... but you know that he will be adding more!

There is so much more to share but this post is already too long. Stay tuned for more information!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

2013 National Whole Brain Teaching Conference Pineville, LA

Three days of training for Teacher Heaven!

The energy at the conference for all three days was amazing! Whether teachers were learning about WBT for the first time or coming to refresh their Whole Brain Teaching back pocket of strategies, people were smiling and laughing. We need to bring laughter back to schools.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Chris Biffle aka Coach B at least five times. I have met Chris Rekstad and Jeff Battle twice. This conference was like a rock star concert for me. As soon as I walked in the doors of the hotel I saw Andrea Schindler... She is the reason I am a Whole Brain Teacher. Her videos are the first I watched. I was able to meet up with my Monday night WBT twin Julie Gustin, aka Southern Teacher. I can't forget to mention finally meeting Kathy Powers aka blizzard and Marty Hohman aka m_hohman.

I was further star struck when I sat in a meeting with WBT video rockstars, Andre Deshotil, Jasselle Cruz, Sarah Meador, Lindsey Roush, Kate Bowski, and Karly MacAleese. Seeing people like Deb Weigel and Farrah Shipley in person was just unreal.

Nancy Stoltenberg is a truly beautiful person. She won WBT teacher of the year and without a doubt deserves the title! I couldn't have done all that I have so far without her support. On top of the support and encouragement she has provided, she connected me with my newest friend Marie Everman. Getting to know Marie has been such a blessing.

I came to Louisiana to learn more about this wonderful miracle that is Whole Brain Teaching. Little did I know that I was going to be a part of the team. From the first meeting, on Sunday night, to working with Andrea on Monday, Tuesday with Chris Rekstad, and finally being able to address the entire conference on Wednesday about my favorite part of WBT ( Super Improver Team): I was part of an elite group of people.

I met and talked with some amazing people over the course of the last few days. I couldn't possible name all the people who I had the privilege of talking with about Whole Brain Teaching.

I have moaned and groaned for over a year about the lack of Whole Brain teachers in my school. No more whining (thanks Deb Weigel for the much needed pep talk)! I have a team of teachers across the country ready and waiting to support me all the way. I am going to lead by example, first in my classroom, then my building, then my district... This wildfire will spread!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How does the Genuis Ladder benefit the writing process.

Question 1: How does the Genius Ladder benefit the writing process?
“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child into old age, which means never losing your enthusiasm.” Aldous Huxley

The Genius Ladder benefits the writing process by making writing simple, giving lots of practice with Oral Writing, and MOST IMPORTANTLY weaving the GOLDEN THREAD of FUN into your daily instruction.  Writing isn’t only difficult for our students, we as teachers struggle while teaching this COMPLEX content area. When students get lots of practice they gain more confidence. Any time you engage students limbic systems by weaving the GOLDEN THREAD of FUN, you AND your students win big time! 

Writing is a difficult subject for students and teachers. Students struggle with writing because there are so many BORING, complicated rules to learn. Thanks to Whole Brain Teaching’s HUGE collection of writing instruction tools, writing is no longer boring or complicated. Choose from a number of resources under the ebooks section of the Whole Brain Teaching Website. Genius Ladder is only one of many. There is even an interactive PDF presentation for the Genius Ladder created by Chris Rekstad, a co-founder of Whole Brain Teaching. Whole Brain Teaching helps teachers simplify writing instruction with Super Speed Grammar, The Writing Game, Genius Ladder, RedGreen Marker Editing and much more. 

Students beg to play the Genius Ladder. That’s right… students are BEGGING to practice grammar and writing. They LOVE creating silly sentences. Laughter erupts as the class works to change a BLAH sentence into a GENIUS paragraph. As the students participate in this beautifully simple, yet enriching game they not only learn about parts of speech they increase their vocabulary. They race against the clock to replace the noun, verb, or adjective in the provided sentences as many times as possible. 

Weaving the GOLDEN THREAD of FUN, is a necessity in ANY classroom. If you aren’t weaving the GOLDEN THREAD of FUN… you aren't in a Whole Brain Classroom. The quote at the beginning of my post makes an incredible point. Teachers are so bogged down with all the rules and expectations of data, common core, testing,… that we lose our enthusiasm. We can’t lose our enthusiasm … we have to lead our students to be genius’. 

For more examples of the Genius Ladder, watch program 504 on the Whole Brain Teaching Website. You can also watch Chris Biffle (aka Coach B), cofounder of Whole Brain Teaching play the Genius Ladder in this video found on youtube ( .  Also, watch the AMAZING Jasselle Cruz, fifth grade teacher, lead her students in an action packed Genius Ladder lesson complete with disguise cream ( .