Friday, August 26, 2011

A Week of Whole Brain Teaching

Today marks the final day of the first week of the 2011 - 2012 school year for me.  I have to say that using Mind Soccer as a reward was something the students enjoyed, but I am going to reread the manual as I feel I left something out.  To me, it was not as exciting as I imagined.  Maybe my students were tired after just coming in from P.E. and it was 90+ degrees with 80+ percent humidity!  Maybe it was my "thoughts" getting in the way.  Either way, I am going to reread and redo.  I have also learned that due to time constraints, I will use Mind Soccer during reading or math instruction and not as an end of the day reward.  With our reading program, Action 100, requiring the final 30 minutes of the day, there will be no room for Mind Soccer during this time.  Speaking of Action 100, we kick off the program September 1.  I plan to incorporate the requirements of the program with my WBT Fab Five as a way to encourage my students to read, read, read...while following expectations!

I have been a bit "soft" this week in awarding points on the scoreboard for even the simplest of tasks.  However, I have stayed well within the + or - 3 rule.  Next week, I am going to ease back on the points and really go for what I know will make me the happiest - not just awarding points for students doing the simple things.  After practicing our fabulous five expectations all week, I think my students have them memorized and ready to recall.  I will, however, use their Bellwork time on Monday morning to refresh their memories with a quick review of expectations.  This afternoon's dismissal was a bit hairy with too much noise for my liking, so I plan to review dismissal on Monday with reinforcing "fab five" expectations and signs.

This Tuesday, the Action 100 reading representative came to my room with the entire leadership team to help me level my students in preparation for next week's big program launch.  I had the opportunity to utilize the WBT methods in front of the team and expose them to what a great program this is.  They were so impressed with the quick response of the students to "Class!  Yes!" and "Hands and Eyes" that I received a new teacher all day on Thursday to observe my policies, procedures, and management.  She is a recent career-changer...once a paralegal, now a teacher who chooses public schools over private and/or charter schools.  She says she knows this is where she is meant to be because she is making a difference in the lives of children that need it so desperately.  Amen sister!  On another positive note, today during lunch, one of our newest teacher aides (para educators), stopped me to say that she loves coming to my class the most because it's so energetic and fun for the kids.  SCORE!

Next week, I will begin my literacy stations during small group instructional time.  I will have an ESOL para educator with me for the first thirty minutes of instruction.  I will not pull small groups this week as I want to establish my expectations for literacy stations and promote positive choices made by students during this time.  It is my hope that I will run a small group for each of my students daily along with a small group with the ESOL para.  One can dream, right?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of School!

Today is the first day of school!

I began the day by starting off with our Fabulous Five Expectations!  I posted the expectations on the chalkboard and reviewed the expectations on the SMARTBoard.  The students absolutely loved the gestures that correlate with the expectation.  I think their favorite part of the Whole Brain Teaching program is "Class!  YES!" and "Teach!  Okay!". 

After introducing the expectations and reviewing the expectations using "Teach!  Okay!" we played a game from the Kagan program called "Numbered Heads Together".  Using the program, I was able to have the students practice think time, writing their own answer, working with their team mates to reach a consensus, and then teaching me the expectation when called on! 

I also used the "1, 2, 3" system to get students ready to transition to our school tour, leaving the lunchroom, and going to special classes.  When I call "1", the students know to get ready.  "2" means stand up, push in your chair, and put your hands on the back of your chair.  "3" means to line up in number order.  At first, it took some reteaching and explicit modeling of what I wanted to take place, but by midday, the students were in sync with the procedure and my expectations.

At the end of the day, we began leveling ourselves in the Action 100 reading program.  I am a bit concerned that my students did not take the leveling seriously as many of the students leveled themselves at the top level.  I hope I am wrong!  Luckily, I will have help tomorrow from the fifth grade teachers and leadership team in determining the correct level in the reading program.  I assigned homework, reviewed the homework points system, and dismissed my students.  As Harry Wong says, "I dismiss you, not the bell."  It was a great way to end the first day!  I cannot wait for tomorrow!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching at Oscar J. Pope Elementary School!

I will begin my sixth year of teaching and fourteenth year in the Polk County public schools at the school I attended from Kindergarten to sixth grade, Oscar J. Pope Elementary School.  I worked at this school for the 1997-98 school year as a para educator in the Emotionally Handicapped 3-5 classroom.  In 2000, I returned as the terminal operator where I remained until 2006 when I earned my Bachelor's of Science degree and began teaching.

Oscar J. Pope Elementary is a unique school in that it provides services to students in regular and exceptional education programs.  The student population generally remains under 500, and 91% of students receive free or reduced price meals.  Three years ago, Oscar J. Pope Elementary received an "F" from the Florida Department of Education after many years of consistently achieving an "A" or "B".  For the past two years, Oscar J. Pope Elementary has earned a "B" from the Florida Department of Education.  Oscar J. Pope Elementary implements the Positive Behavior Support program which I find aligns very well with the Whole Brain Teaching program and the teachings of Harry Wong.

I have used Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom for the past three years, and I look forward to another wonderful year with the program.  I am excited about introducing the program to my new colleagues and spreading the good news about the program.