Saturday, August 27, 2011

WBT, Week 1

The first week of school is over, and I slept for 12 hours last night!  Teaching is exhausting, but I am pleased to have Whole Brain Teaching to minimize the stress!

Within the first half hour of the first day, my 2nd graders were answering class-yes,  cheering on the scoreboard, and using the teach-ok like champs!  It was awesome! 

Our school now has a "social skill of the week."  This week it was, "Make eye contact while speaking."  This went along perfectly with learning the teach-ok.  

"Remember, make eye contact with your partner!"  

After a few days I added in the Switch.  They were giggling and smiling with joy as they called out, "ah-oh, switch!" and pulled the imaginary switch to take turns.

On Monday we started by learning only the first three rules.  The students mirrored me as we practiced the gestures.  The rules are a great way for them to start learning the teach-ok.  They taught their partner each rule and then practiced them all in order.  On Tuesday and Wednesday we added another rule.

By the end of the week the students were tired and getting sluggish.  I amped up the scoreboard, called out the rules for practice when someone broke them, and rehearsed, rehearsed, rehearsed.  I had to keep Chris Biffle's words in mind, "Whole Brain Teachers never scold...they rehearse!"  That sure is hard to remember some times, but it does keep the blood pressure down ;-)

WBT Intern, 2011-12

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching- Year 2

Tomorrow is the big day!  Summer is over, and school is here.  I was just sitting back and realizing how different I feel going into this school year after having one year of Whole Brain Teaching under my belt.

LAST YEAR:  Frantically re-watching Whole Brain Teaching videos and rehearsing in my mind what to say.
THIS YEAR:  I listed the procedures I need to teach in my lesson plans, and I'm ready to go!

LAST YEAR:  Nervous about looking stupid in front of other teachers that would come in my classroom.
THIS YEAR:  Can't wait to share the joy with others!  The aids that work with me excitedly asked if I was going to use Whole Brain Teaching again this year!

LAST YEAR:  Wondering how the parents would react to this unique style of management and teaching.
THIS YEAR:  I'm excited to invite parents into the classroom to volunteer and check out what we do.  And I can't wait to tell them about the Universal Homework Model!

I'm anticipating an awesome year!  There are so many new strategies that I am excited to be incorporating this year: PowerPix, Brain Toys, Genius Ladder, and so much more!

WBT Intern, 2011-12

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Seating Arrangemets

I've noticed that Whole Brain Teaching has made a big impact on my seating arrangements in the classroom.  The WBT Model Classroom Handbook reminds teachers to "seat your kids in any configuration you wish, horseshoe, rows, etc. but be sure they are assigned partners for Teach-Ok."  Here are a couple of photos that show my seating arrangement for the past year:

In the past I had tried a grouped arrangement like this, NEVER lasted long.  I always had to separate kids so that they wouldn't talk or become distracted.  Using the Teach-Ok has been a key change in my teaching style.  I no longer try to separate all the students to minimize talking.  On the contrary, the students now have partners so that they CAN talk and talk a lot, within the system!

At first I had all the students turn their chair to the screen when teaching whole group.  However, in this arrangement I realized the partner closest to the board would have to turn around during the Teach-OK.  This was especially challenging if they were trying to refer to info on the board as they taught.  So we came up with a procedure to change that.  I tell the class to sit "shoulder-to-shoulder, facing the board."  That is the cue for the class to move quickly while we all count down "5-4-3-2-1!"  By "1" everyone has scooted their chair shoulder-to-shoulder with their partner, eyes on the board, ready to learn.  Teacher heaven!

WBT Intern, 2011-12

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I've had the pleasure of blogging about Whole Brain Teaching for around four months now, and today I am celebrating 50 followers!  Thank you to everyone who continues to read!  It has been so exciting to hear from other Whole Brain Teachers (AKA Wibbeteers) and those who are just now discovering the joy of WBT.  I can't wait to share what the year has in store as a Whole Brain Intern! :-)

I hope you all join the WBT community tomorrow in a live broadcast and chat:

Live WBT Web Broadcast !!!  
"Designing Your WBT Model Classroom:
Motivating every student to continuously improve"
Monday, August 15, 2011
5 PM Pacific Standard Time
8 PM Eastern Standard Time
Text in your questions!

WBT Intern, 2011-12

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Printing Power Pix!

According to the Whole Brain Teaching Model Classroom Guide, wibbeting classrooms should have a bulletin board to post Power Pix.  Power Pix are basically posters that illustrate an important concept in either math or ELA.  The manual gives details on gestures for each concept as well as easy/quick activities to review and check for understanding. 
Take a look:

I have the perfect wall to post the Power Pix as they are introduced, but my main roadblock has been finding a way to print them.  I checked into Office Depot, Office Max, Staples, and FedEx.  From what I could tell, it looked like anywhere from $30-$60 just to print the 2nd grade math Power Pix (depending on paper).  The experts on the forum suggested that owning a color printer was a good investment for a teacher.  That reminded me that we have an old color printer that ran out of ink a few years ago.  I hopped over to and found refurbished ink for only $30!  It came in the mail 2 days later and my wonderful hubby set to work getting the printer back into working order.  I think it took about an hour, and now it is printing beautifully!  

I like having the flexibility to print just the pix that I want.  I've looked through the 1st grade and 3rd grade pix as well to find everything I need to meet my state standards here in Texas.  

I've noticed a couple of classroom photos posted lately to show how other teachers plan to display their Power Pix.  Check out Heather's classroom here.  The Whole Brainiac plans to use the window blinds for the Power Pix showcase- great idea!  When I get to work in my classroom next week, I'll be sure to take some photos to post here too!

The Power Pix can be downloaded for FREE at the Whole Brain Teaching website after you log in.

WBT Intern, 2011-12

Monday, August 8, 2011

My new class rules!

Last  year I basically used the five Whole Brain Teaching rules, with a little of my own variation.  It was a great success.  Why did I love it?

  • The rules no longer hung on the wall ignored.
  • We practiced the rules everyday in the beginning, and frequently throughout the year.
  • It became an EASY and POSITIVE way to redirect behavior.  Was someone talking?  I simply said, "Rule #2."  And the whole class reinforced the rules by repeating, "Raise your hand to speak," along with the gestures.
  • The rules set concrete expectations that the students became so familiar with that it helped them to monitor their own behavior and take responsibility for their actions.
  • Students even began to use the rules to kindly correct their classmates!  Is that teacher heaven, or what?!

This year our school as a whole is adopting a new set of rules.  There are ten "behavior ethics"...

and ten "work ethics".

Every class in the school will use these "ethics" to set expectations and communicate with parents.   In a perfect world, I would be able to follow the WBT techniques to the letter and use the five classroom rules.  However, due to these school-wide expectations I think it will be best to jump in and find a way to "Wibbify" what I have here.

The first five behavior ethics, more or less, cover the basic classroom rules that one would find in Whole Brain Teaching.  I think I will post all the behavior ethics, but highlight the first five in some way. I will point out that these rules give guidelines on classroom behavior, so we will focus more attention on them in class by rehearsing them with gestures.  Who the end of the year, the students might make gestures for all twenty of the ethics listed!

WBT Intern, 2011-12

Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's that time of year...

Summer has flown by so quickly!  I go back for my first day of inservice today, yet I feel like I just left for the break.

It is exciting to see things start to move in the Whole Brain Teaching community.  Everyone is waking from their summer hibernation.  The blogs are becoming active, and the forum is full of great advice.  I've even noticed a sharp increase in google searches that bring up my blog.  I suppose everyone is scrambling to find a new idea to make it through the year.

I have to say that Whole Brain Teaching is what is spurring me on this year.  If it weren't for WBT I would probably be seeking a degree in library science and dreading the new year.  (Actually, that sounds an awful lot like how I felt this time last year...)  

But instead, this year I know what procedures will make my class run smoothly AND be effective ALL YEAR LONG.  I know that I have techniques to reach the incredibly diverse class that will inevitably walk through the doors.  I know that I will have fun, as well as my students.  I know that I will be excited to tell others that WBT works.  I know that I will gain new insights and learn from the best Whole Brain Teachers who freely share their knowledge and experience.

Thank you, WBT, for giving me hope for a new year!
Power to the Teachers!

WBT Intern, 2011-12