Friday, 24 June 2011

High schoolers do WBT, too?

The new video out from Whole Brain Teaching of Mr. Brown's math class keeps me very happy!!  I frequently have non-believers, especially teachers of the intermediate and highschool years, who don't buy into WBT because they think it can only be successful in primary where the students enjoy upbeat excitement.  "WBT is too uncool for highschool!" they say.  Well here is the proof.  To all you non-believers - it works in highschool, too!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Crazy Professor Reading Game Fun!

Today I decided it was time to play the Crazy Professor Reading Game with my Grade 1's.  I watched Chris Rekstad's video first.  Then, I showed it to my class.  I gave my kids options of books and paired them together with similar ability reading partners.

Three observations:

1.  It was hard to transition to the next level of the game because everyone finished at different times.  Next time, I would have everyone read the same book until we got all the levels down.  I still think some groups would have down time.  Any suggestions about what they could do while they wait?  I just had them continue to the next level.  I guess they could repeat that same level again until everyone else was ready to move on.

2.  Some students found it too loud to concentrate.  I sent one pair out in the hall, which worked well.  I also quieted the class as Chris suggested in the video.

3.  Some pairs were not being very good partners.  We had to stop and practice at times.  This will come with practice I assume.

Overall, my class liked the Crazy Professor Reading Game.  A few pairs really got into it.  Who knows what will happen next time!!  One student commented that her head hurt afterwards.  I told her, with glee, that it must be because she was working so hard and learning so much that her brain created new learning pathways!!  Can I get a ten fingered woo!!!

Monday, 20 June 2011

My Venture Down Mystery Road

Last week and this week I have begun playing Mystery Road with my class.  I drew a path on the chalkboard with three detours leading to a magnet or "Mystery" prize, game, or treat (Mind Soccer, extra recess, extra centers, etc.).  The final destination was the biggest magnet and represented the biggest "Mystery".   Then I took my Mickey Mouse magnet and started it at the beginning of the path.

I introduced the game by explaining that good behaviour and following the rules would move Mickey down the path.  Once Mickey reached an intersection, good behaviour would send Mickey down that path to a mystery surprise.  Of course, there would always be the option to bypass a path or retreat back away from the mystery surprise depending on behaviour.  As the day progressed, sometimes I would say, "Wow! That good behaviour earned you 1 cm of Mickey movement down Mystery Road!" or "Let's see if can clean up by the time I count down from 20 and you could earn 1 cm down Mystery Road!"  Then I would take out my ruler and use it to model measurement.

Mystery Road has increased focus, excitement, and fun in my classroom.  My kids and I are having a BLAST!!  Can I get an OH YEAH!!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Freeze Frame

So today I was teaching a particularly difficult lesson on the 10 more than rule - you add 10 to any number by adding 10 to the 10's place.  This was the first time I had taught the rule using the 5 step lesson recommended by whole brain teaching.  The lesson was rolling along, until we got to the part where I was showing examples of equations that followed the rule.  All of the sudden there were no actions, no gestures, no movement from my students, just silence.  I found myself encouraging gestures and asking for more action.  Slowly, I realized that I didn't need to do that and that it was OK for them not to do gestures because they were concentrating on the examples, intensely.

In fact, upon reflecting on previous observations and the events of today my visual learners concentrate on the Power Pix even while they were teaching their neighbour, often turning their heads to look back a the SmartBoard.

 It was even more interesting when it came time for each student to add 10 to 5 different numbers, individually.  Almost immediately, I had a few ask for help.  I had one student say, "I didn't get it before (this lesson) but now I do!"  Furthermore, I found that I was able to better explain the concept (e.g. 36 + 10 Question: What number is in the 10's place?  Answer: 30 rather than 3.  Now count by tens - what number comes after 30?  Answer: 40  Now, using this information, as well as the number in the 1's place what is 36 + 10?)  Answer: 46)

I'm already planning to do the same lesson again tomorrow, maybe with a few different examples - going for 100% student mastery of the concept - oh yeah!!  Thanks WBT for catering to all different learning styles!

Friday, 10 June 2011

My Most Discerning Critic Yet

On Thursday, the other Grade 2 teacher came to observe my class.  I often look to her for sound advice and if I am trying something new she asks the hard questions!!  I was not surprised when after the lesson she started out with, "That was an interesting lesson..."  I smiled, unsure of how to respond.

"What did you think?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "it was very fast paced.  I was a bit overwhelmed!"

"Yah," I responded, "it takes a bit to get the rhythm and technique down."

She continued, "I wonder if your weaker students are able to follow the lesson?"  I explained that, often, they were the students who shined because they were able to share their knowledge orally, rather than on paper.  Furthermore, I told her I often repeat the concept during the lesson three times with mirrors and gestures, to make sure everyone catches on, as well as I will teach the whole lesson later on in the week.

"Do you ever use manipulatives?" she queried.  I had been reviewing the equal sign, combining it with unknown variables in addition and subtraction equations so it was a valid question.  I admitted I hadn't thought of using manipulatives, although I had used them earlier in the year for the same concept. Still, I could easily add them anywhere in the lesson.

She continued, saying, "I noticed two or three students not participating - what do you do about that?"

"Gosh, I hadn't even noticed - I would usually give a frownie, remind again about 100% participation or perhaps move the class from Winners back to Team!" I responded, a little embarrassed.  Now that I reflect on her observation, its true; there are always a few kids who are caught up watching everyone else before they do their own gestures, often on the third repetition.  Then, there are the quiet, shy ones, who struggle orally, so it is a challenge.  Finally, there are the students who will do anything to get your attention, including not participate.  I think WBT has a rule for that? :)  I'm going to have to work on keeping my little ducks focused and not forgetting to add some manipulative activities every once in awhile!!  Thank you Grade 2 teacher for keeping me accountable and making me a better teacher!!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Teacher Heaven

During a visit to the Grade 2 classroom today, the teacher that came to observe my class last week pulled out the Class/Yes! to get everyone's attention.  Even though it is a small room and it was packed with parents, Grade 2s and Grade 1s, the room was silent in seconds.  I think I teared up a little:)  Then, when I was leaving, I pulled it out to gather my class, followed by "Line!' to which my students responded with "Line, line, line!" Making a fast, quiet line, we promptly left the classroom.  Can I get a oh yeah!!

Also, the kids spontaneously asked to play Super Speed Numbers today.  I think I'll have to photocopy some Super Speed Math booklets for tomorrow!

However, my favourite event was when some students were reading their short stories to the class.  After one little boy read his story to the class, he proceeded to ask the class questions regarding the characters and plot of the story - he even used the vocabulary words problem and solution!  Teacher heaven!!!!!  Thank you Power Pix!!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Repetition, repetition, repetition...

Another teacher came to see my class yesterday and she is totally on board with WBT!  Today she tried it out - at every break she came to gush about everything she loves about it.  It is very exciting.  What I like about it is that now when I am on supervision at lunch in her classroom all I have to say is "Class" to get their attention!  Once everyone is on board the continuity at our school will be through the roof!  Oh yeah!!  Better for all students and teachers? - I think yes!!!

More importantly, I realized again how vital teaching a lesson more than once is to learning.  When that same teacher came to observe I decided to do a lesson I had done twice before - reviewing the less than/more than rule.  Low and behold, I had about 90% of my kids catching on and using the less than/more than sign correctly.  I would say that this is at least 15% more than last time I taught the lesson.  I would attribute this to my increased knowledge and familiarity with the lesson, as well as my students familiarity with the concept.  Repetition is the key my friends!!

Super Speed 100 is still a hit.  My kids are even begging me to do it during their spare time!!!!  Another game that we have been playing lately and that my students BEG to play is Corners.  I decided to do a variation one day and now it is similar to Mind Soccer.  The basic rules of the game are as follows: I stand in the middle of the room and count down from 10 with my eyes closed.  All students find a corner to stand in. (If they are in between corners when I open my eyes they are automatically out!)  I turn around and point to a corner and then open my eyes.  In the regular game of Corners all those students in that corner would be out (go back to their seats, go for recess, be dismissed, etc.)  I now call it Super Corners.  Every one in the corner I point to must answer a question of my choosing (spell a word, answer a math fact, give a definition, etc.)  We play until there is one person left in the game.  Often everyone is still playing and then everyone wins.  My students LOVE this game!  (In the gym, I call it Super Dooper Corners:)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Super Speed 100 and More

Super Speed 100 was a hit this week with my class!  Although it is the end of the year, I felt it was the  appropriate time for this group and their skill level.  I made sure that my seating arrangement consisted of one partner who was a little more advanced in reading than the other partner.    Also, before we started, I had my students review the words for that level so that when it came time to begin they weren't scrambling or lost.  As well, I had them decide who would start first.  My students have stickers on their desks so sometimes I would say reds will start for the first round and purples would start for the second round.  They really ate it up!  Yum!!

Today, I had one of the grade 2 teachers come and observe my class in action!  I was SO nervous!  I divided my scoreboard so that it was girls vs. boys.  The kids were amazing - students taught the class, they taught each other, they taught their sockless hand puppets, they compared and contrasted, and they played all the games.  I even was able to deal with an issue between two children while my class was still running smoothly.  Oh yeah!!!  If only I had been video taping!!!!

It definitely hasn't been all rainbows and butterflies this week - spring fever is definitely in the air:)

As the year progressed, my students have demonstrated some interesting ways of speaking to one another.  Some are very hard on others if things do not go their way.  Often they are critical and, sometimes, they say things like, "If you don't do this for me, I won't be your friend!"  After a particularly rough gym class I decided to skip computer time and head back to the classroom.  I made a T-chart and we listed unkind things someone might say.  We discussed how the person that is saying these things most often feels badly about themselves.  One little boy offered this pearl of wisdom: You are what you say:)  I had each student have their sockless hand puppet say mean things to the other sockless hand puppet. I asked them how their sockless hand puppet felt.  Next, we made a list of kind things to say to the person rather than becoming defensive - I reinforced that if that person is saying these things they must be feeling badly - what can we say to make them feel better?  I had them practice again with their sockless hand puppets.  Finally, I challenged my class to compliment 5 different people a day for the rest of the year.  We brainstormed and practiced good compliments.  To facilitate this, every so often for the rest of the day I would say, "Compliment!" and everyone would compliment one another.  I am going to try and keep this up with the objective being to create a more positive, supportive environment!!