Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Classroom Visitor!!!!

This last Friday I had the pleasure of a visit from Jag, a fellow Canadian and Grade 1 teacher from a school in Abbotsford, BC - about 3 hours drive from Kelowna.  Jag had found my blog and she wanted to see my class in action since she and some of the other teachers at her school were using Whole Brain Teaching in their classrooms!  Still, she felt - and I agree - that grade 1 is a whole different story then even grade 2 and 3.  They learn so much - how to read, write, add, subtract, etc. and there is such a range of levels - kids who can read at the beginning of grade one and kids who are just beginning to read!  Jag wanted to see another WBT grade 1 class so she came for a visit.

It was so great to meet her and talk about what each of us do in our classrooms.  It turns out we do A LOT of the same things!!!!  It ended up being the hottest day of June so far - we were all sweating a little in my teeny-tiny classroom (26 kiddies plus 3 adults!!) but it was overall a great day.  My kids were really on, although a bit sluggish because of the muggy heat:)  Jag and I got to talk at lunch and it was fun to share our experiences with Whole Brain Teaching.  Jag had visited Chris Rekstad's classroom so it was neat to hear about her experience.  I told her about my Phoenix conference and all the excitement that went along with it.  She was really sweet and gave me some motivation to go to another conference and to keep blogging.  What really interested me is that she is planning to do her Master's in Whole Brain Teaching and the effects of oral language on writing!!  Oh yeah!!  So excited to read her results!  Hope we meet up again sometime, Jag!  Have a great summer and thanks for the visit!!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Power Pix Graphics Freebie

Here you are my blogger friends - my first freebie giveaway in honour of having 80 wonderful followers!!  Have fun creating your own Power Pix!!!

Language Arts Power Pix template!
My Whole Brain Teaching Blog
Science Power Pix template!
My Whole Brain Teaching Blog
 Social Studies Power Pix template!
Whole Brain Teaching
 Math Power Pix template!
Whole Brain Teaching

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

5 Whole Brain Teaching Tips and Tricks + Gold

One of my followers,  Amanda at Ms. Wilkie's Second Grade Class, asked if I had any tips for teaching Whole Brain style.  Here is what I came up with!

1.  When teaching each Power Pix, especially if the speaking bit is long, break each section into parts.  Add gestures to each speaking part.   Use a silly voice, add a goofy face/gesture, or sing a song.

2. I just, just started doing Silent Cheers.  I have a few students who always cross the line or go overboard with cheers, or just wait a little too long so they are not with the rest of the class when responding, use an overly loud/exuberant voice, etc. to give a cheer or choral speak with the class.  Finally, I came up with, "Give Hannah a double chin wiggle, with a 2 winks and cheek rub!" or "Give Petey a double eye-brow rub with a knee shake and a tummy pat!"  Works like a charm and is easier on the ears!!  Here is a WBT lesson on Singular and Plural Nouns - check out the Silent cheer at 2:54.

3.  My Power Pix wall is on a magnetic chalk board.  Instead of taking down previously taught Power Pix when all the room is taken up, I just start piling them on top of one another and voila - a 3D Power Pix wall - OH YEAH!  I had a little girl leading the Power Pix one day and she just flipped up one of the Pix to uncover the one she was looking for.

Whole Brain Teaching

Whole Brain Teaching

4. Try different things and experiment.  I have been playing around with The Wheel of Excitement lately.  I thought I would try this other method to encourage engagement in my class.  When students are especially engaged they or I will spin the Wheel of Excitement.  Where the arrow is closest to landing will determine how many Smilies the class receives.  If the arrow lands closes or on the star the teacher gets to choose the number of Smilies awarded.  If the arrow lands on the question mark, then I will roll dice to determine the number of Smilies awarded.  So far this has worked quite well!!

Whole Brain Teaching

5. At the end of the day I always have a WBT ticket to leave.  Students must provide example poppers related to Power Pix learned that day.  For example, students may have to add 10 to a number of my choice after we have learned the 10 more than rule that day.  

Gold = I think the biggest tip I could give is be  yourself and have fun with Whole Brain Teaching!  The more you are having fun and allow yourself to be goofy or tap into your personality the better WBT with work for you and your class.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

WBT's Top 3 Most Useful Ideas

1. Power Pix: These innovative Pix have revolutionized my teaching style, allowing me to revisit previously taught concepts regularly thanks to the Power Pix Wall, reach all different learning styles, and hone my students critical thinking skills (Compare and contrast those Power Pix!).

2. Teach/OK!: This technique has engaged all of my students by getting them talking and using language during lessons.  Rather than just a few being engaged, everyone is involved and learning.  Moreover, everyone is listening because they know that at some point they will have to talk to their neighbour about what is being taught.  My students are excellent listeners!!

3. Scoreboard: Management wise, there is no other method like the Scoreboard.  Kids love games and the Scoreboard allows me to manage my class effectively in a game-like setting.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

My First Blog Award!!!

Thank you SO much to fellow Canadian and Whole Brain Teacher, Miss L at Miss L's Whole Brain Teaching Blog for awarding me the Liebster Blog award!  The award is given out to new blogs with less than 200 followers to highlight our efforts in the blogging world.

Check out Miss L's blog for lists of weekly useful teaching websites, Whole Brain Teaching Wednesdays, and much more!!  

For those of you that don't know my story, I stumbled across Whole Brain Teaching two and a half years ago and fell in love.  WBT was just what I had been looking for to push my teaching to the next level.  As a WBT intern (2011-2012), I started my blog to share my WBT experiences with other teachers and to help them implement WBT in their classrooms.  

To keep the Liebster love going, here are the rules:
  1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
  3. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

  • Farrah has been an inspiration to me from the very beginning.  Her video's are amazing and her posts are so much fun to read.  I had the pleasure of meeting her last summer in Phoenix at a WBT conference and she was so much fun - Bless her heart:)
  • Kate is a WBT blogging up and comer.  I love the detail in her posts and I am excited to see what she does in the future.  Keep up the awesome work!!!
  • Jackie is also a WBT alumni.  Her posts, although few, are very detailed and have given me many great ideas to use in the classroom.
  • I also had the pleasure of meeting and working with Chris at the WBT Phoenix conference.  Chris is one of the co-founders of Whole Brain Teaching.  He is a very creative guy - very logical and a great problem solver!
  • Roxi is a WBT middle school teacher!!  Oh yeah!!!!  Her videos are inspirational and her blog is stellar!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Power Pix as Anchor Charts?

Just recently I have been introduced to the world of anchor charts.  I remember reading a posting on another blog awhile ago that recounted how another teacher had begun to learn about anchor charts and realized that they were already using them by utilizing the Power Pix.  The more I think about it the more I like the Power Pix better and think of them as a simplified, yet more effective anchor chart.  The anchor charts out there I've seen tend to be complicated with lots of words - way confusing for the beginning reader - not focused enough for the distracted learner.  Power Pix are simple, directed to all the different learning styles, and they use a limited amount of wall space in my classroom, effectively. Power Pix - the simpler form of an anchor chart.  Get them for free at  I just finished reading Steve Jobs' biography by Walter Isaacson.  I know Steve would've approved:)

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Wacky Star Fun Button

Well the Wacky Star Fun Button has finally made an appearance in grade 1.  Every morning when we work on oral writing I challenge my students to speak in complete sentences.  At this point in the year, they now know never to start a sentence with "and", only one "and" per sentence.  They must always begin sentences in a variety of ways (first, then, also, moreover, etc.)  Also, I encourage them to use adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions in their oral genius paragraphs.  If a students manages to follow the majority of these requirements they get to press the Wacky Star Fun Button and boy do they want to press that button.  Then, that lucky duck gets to choose what crazy animal the whole class gets to be for ten crazy, wonderful seconds.  Our classroom carpet is made up of colourful squares making a seating plan super easy.  Students must stay in their assigned square on the carpet and we model voice level.  The button is pressed and, suddenly, my students morph into crazy kangaroos or exotic elephants.  It's a jungle in grade one!!

Whole Brain Teaching

Power Pix, Teacher Blogs, and Pinterest!

My inspiration level has truly hit the fan this week!!!!  First, I have discovered so many amazing teacher blogs with SO many cool ideas!!  I knew they were out there but I hadn't fully grasped the amazing community of sharing and collaboration that is available to all teachers through blogging.  Check out all the wonderful resources at Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT Store).

First, I was searching for an activity to help reinforce how to make inferences with my kiddies.  I ran into this amazing inferring activity created by Babbling Abby.  I had to use it in my classroom.  I knew my students would EAT it up!

Through Abby, I stumbled on The First Grade Parade by Cara Carroll and totally fell in love with her writing style and her great teaching ideas.  A shout out to her for her amazingness and excellent taste!!!!  In Mrs. Carroll fashion, I ADORE the fonts and graphics she uses and her activities are so appealing and applicable.  I am for sure going to implement Math Tubs into my classroom!!

I began following Cara on Pinterest  and found this other amazing site called Blog Hoppin' by Stacy Johnson.  Cara had pinned an activity on 10 More/10 Less, which I had just finished teaching using a WBT Power Pix to my class.  I just had to use it in class the next day to help practice and reinforce our new skills - I knew my class would be crazy for it.

My new goal is to create, find, buy at the TPT store, etc. fun games for Math Tubs or LA Centres to match each of the Power Pix as activities for my students to play once the lesson is finished.  Happy blogging!!!