Friday, April 26, 2013


Class-Yes is a part of Whole Brain Teaching’s 4Core.  It is an immediate student attention grabber.  Contrary to traditional classroom methods of gaining student attention, Class-Yes offers a quick method of stopping student discussions, talking, movement, and overall chatter when the teacher needs the attention of the class.  Here’s how it works:  When the teacher says, “Class!” the students say, “Yes!”  And, however the teacher says, “Class!” is how the students say, “Yes!”  The teacher can vary their tone, whisper, shout, and even change the language when they say, “Class!”  The kids will then say, “Yes!” by changing their tone, too.  It’s a beautiful sight to see!

Yesterday, during history class, we reviewed the Cold War era.  From the time the bell rang through the end of the day, I used Class-Yes.  If students beat my Scoreboard score, they earn one minute of ‘talk time’ at the beginning of class, so for those classes, I able to use “Class-Yes” to stop their talking.  We reviewed several items using the WBT technique “Teach/Ok,” and I was able to quickly stop small group gesturing with Class-Yes.  We played a review game, and on several occasions, students were really excited and one Class-Yes didn’t work.  When that happens, and I do not have full attention, I generally whisper, “Class,” and the students whisper, “Yes!”  This technique works really well.    Once, a class was not seated fast enough, and I said, “Class-A, Sit-A!”  The kids quickly said, “Yes-A, Sit-A,” and they quickly seated themselves.  I also had several students answer review questions and/or lead gesturing.  During this time, the students know they, too can use “Class-Yes.”  They begin by saying, “Class!” followed by the other students, “Yes,” and then they move forward with their answers or gesturing.  It is a way for them to ‘be the teacher’ and a quick way for them to let the class know to be quiet while they are speaking. 
Once last week, during a homeroom discussion, the two students leading the ‘talk’ used “Class-Yes” multiple times to regain control of the conversation and to stop multiple people from talking at once. 

Over the course of the last week, I really have enjoyed sitting back and observing how, when, and why my students and I use the “Class-Yes” technique.
Along with the other three 4Core WBT techniques, Class-Yes has been a ‘game changer’ for me.  It is an immediate, quick way to gain the attention of my students.  It is not threatening as other techniques, like yelling nor does it take up class time like counting down.  It is a friendly way to gain call students to order, and there is an endless array of ways to actually say Class-Yes.  The whole concept behind Class-Yes is ingenious!  It’s so simple and clever!  My sixth grade students love saying, “Yes!”  And, they love saying it using different tones and pitches.  I have discovered that being consistent is the key.  When I use “Class-Yes” consistently, it changes the atmosphere of my classes.  It has made learning and being is history class more enjoyable for all involved.  Ten Finger Woo to Coach B. and the staff that came up with it!  It has completely changed my classroom management system.  

Here is a link to a 3rd grade blog that provides more information about "Class-Yes."  The are so many variations for its use, and they all make class interesting and fun.

Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids: (and the rest of your class, too!) Book— The new WBT book may be ordered through Amazon by clicking here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Life Changing Events and WBT

The last week and a half has been a whirlwind for me.  I just wanted everyone to know on Wednesday, April 10, my 7 year old went for one more bicycle trip down into our subdivision, and in an instant I could hear him from our yard.  When I got to him, he was laying to the side of the road in pain.  He had look down away from the road, and when he looked back was plowing in to a neighbors 'homemade' mailbox.  Needless to say, the mailbox won!  He could not get up and did not want to be touched.  I was horrified!  After an ambulance ride to the hospital, a wait in the ER, and x-rays, we learned he had broken his right tibia bone (the large bone in your lower leg).  It is never fun watching anyone be in pain, but when it is your own child, it is worse.  They kept him over night because he was unable to manage his pain.  He was suppose to get a cast after one week, but the Dr. said he would rather leave him in the splint for one more week.  He will go from the splint to cast above the knee then a walking, boot cast below the knee.  The good news for all of this is--Ean is very, very lucky.  He was not wearing a helmet and had on Croc shoes.  He didn't have a scratch on him outside of breaking his leg.  The mailbox has to be replaced.  He had to hit it pretty hard because the 4x4 post it was on was damaged.  We say many blessings on this day, and one of them was that he did not have any damage to his head or spine.  Funny thing is, the bike doesn't have a scratch on it either!  Ean will also have his cast off by the time we go to the beach.  He was really worried about not being able to get in the water.  

I have been out of school more than I have been in, and my heart has certainly not been with teaching.  I was honest with all of my classes, as I wanted them to know the importance of wearing good shoes and a helmet when riding any bike or scooter.  I also wanted them to know why I would be missing days in near future.  They all know Ean because he comes to my school just before our dismissal bell, and they like him.  They have been so kind and sweet--making him cards and signs and sending him little gifts.  

The whole accident altered my teaching and enthusiasm at school.  For the past several days, I have not been using WBT very well.  Honestly, I have been using Class/Yes and that is pretty much it.  The substitute did award stars for good behavior for my SIW class, but I have not been consistent with WBT since the accident.  What positive can I take from not using WBT, you ask?  Well, it reaffirms my action research.  Any day using some WBT is a better day than not using it at all.  I there will be days like this.  We teachers are human, right?  These last few days have allowed me to reflect back to teaching before I even knew what WBT was.  The more WBT strategies I use, the better teacher I am.  The class runs more smoothly when I use the Scoreboard, and the kids love it.  My sixth graders especially love WBTs 4Core, the 5 Classroom Rules,  It's Cool!, and Ten Finger Woos.  I have faith that it is OK to have 'not so good days' because I will pick up my speed and return once again to what I know best-Whole Brain Teaching.

Finalizing My Action Research-Module 8 (The Final Stretch)

Originally posted-April 21, 2013

Action Research Question “Does the consistent use of Whole Brain Teaching's 4Core and Five Classroom Rules produce increased enthusiasm and improved learning outcomes for all students?” 

Well, I cannot believe my online journey through Walsh University is in the final stretch.  Through this process, I have grown professionally and personally.  I accepted the online challenge and completed a class solo, and for that I am proud of myself.  I was able to manage my dear family, teaching full time, and the day-to-day responsibilities of the class with ease.  Can I get a Ten Finger Woo???

Action Research Itself: I believe great classroom teachers perform action research without even realizing they do it! I know any give day can be 'trial and error.'  When one strategy does not prove successful, we try another idea, and another idea until we find an idea that works best for the class or an individual learner.  But, above all, we try and we don't give up.  That's what I like best about WBT.  There is an array of ideas to try, and they are all heavily grounded in classroom and brain research.  The WBT handbook can now be purchased on Amazon by clicking here.  The online support is absolutely fabulous.  There is a YouTube Channel by WBT creator Chris Biffle here and a YouTube Webcast Channel here.  They have Facebook pages for grades, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and the middle school level.  There is also a Facebook channel for Whole Brain Teaching here.  WBT also has a website that is full of information, and it even has a forum.  It's awesome!  Many teachers have their own blogs and Youtube Channels where they post information about what works for them.  If you have a question, help is only a click, video, or email away.  Ten Finger Woo to the WBT family that makes this possible!!!

My Action Research Results: Through my 12 week online class, I have discovered, without any doubt, that the consistent use of WBTs 4Core and Five Classroom Rules does produce increased enthusiasm and improved learning outcomes for all students!  The term 'consistent use' has made all the difference in my classroom.  Before I took this class, I used some of the WBT strategies but not all of them and not all of the time.  After starting the class, I used the suggestions and guidelines from the WBT handbook and videos closely, and then began to tweak the strategies just enough to work for me in my middle school classroom setting.  The journey has been an awesome adventure!  The Rules were added after several weeks of looking closely at my research question.  I do not feel you can be successful with WBT without implementing the 5 Classroom Rules.  Rules govern daily life and have to govern a classroom, too.  Repeating the rules as they are broken by students doesn't single out individuals but reminds them of rules.  After introducing WBTs 5 Classroom Rules, WBT 4Core, including Class-Yes, Scoreboard, Teach-Ok, and Mirrors, was, for me, the best way to begin using WBT.  It has been proven through brain research (How the Brain Learns-Fourth Edition, David Sousa), that the brain is a novelty seeker, and loves to be entertained.  WBT has proven to be the key for my classroom.  After consistent use of these strategies, I cannot imagine teaching without them.  The kids and I are more relaxed, learning is fun, and participation has improved 100% with my 6th graders.  

Test results showed an increase in learning as well.  It is important to note I used some strategies in the fall before I began researching WBT effects with my students.  

Baseline data included the following:
Quarter 1 Assessment-92% pass (51% pass advance, 41% pass) and 8% fail
Quarter 2 Assessment-92% pass (64% pass advance, 28% pass) and 8% fail
During Quarter 3 consistent use of WBTs 5 Classroom Rules and 4Core were used as well as several other WBT strategies.  Quarter 3 results included the following:
Quarter 3 Assessment-94% pass (56% pass advance, 38% pass) and 6% fail
It is important to note that all 6% of students failing the test improved at 7-20 points above their first assessment scores.  Target students improved from Q1 to Q3 and have made great gains.  I believe, without a doubt, WBT is responsible for these gains!

Target Student Failing Quarter 3 Assessment Results:
Student 1-Q1-43, Q2-23, Q3-50
Student 2-Q1-30, Q2-43, Q3-50
Student 3-Q1-40, Q2-43, Q3-50
Student 4-Q1-40, Q2-43, Q3-50
Student 5-Q1-40, Q2-30, Q3-48

The scores for these 5 students are not passing, but they have made gains in learning required material.  Test results are, by no means, the only method of data collecting.  I wish readers could see WBT in action with my classes.  One class now works together in everything they do.  It is an awesome site to see.  For my most challenging class, it took consistent use to get all students to say Class/Yes, Switch, and Teach/Ok together and to repeat it the way I said it.  But this day finally came, and I reward them often with Scoreboard points.  The Super Improver Wall was implemented with the particular class, and it has also proven to further help students learn and improve.  

I have also seen individual students grow from being challenging students to fence setters and others move from being leaders to model students.  I can honestly say I still experience daily challenges, but WBT strategies have made all the difference for me and for my students, present and future.

Whole Brain Teaching has been a 'game changer' for me.  It has revolutionized my classroom management system, my teaching style, and the way my students learn and retain information.  We are both more relaxed, and in the words of Coach B., "WBT weaves the golden thread of fun" in all lessons.  My teaching and student learning has went from BLAH to AHHHHH!  I can't wait this fall because I will begin with WBT from day one, and this will make all the difference!

Super Improver Wall Update and WBT Certification

Originally posted-April 9, 2013

SIW Update:
So, again, I admit I am struggling with the Super Improver Wall.  I did work on adding specific goals (one academic and one behavior) for each student.  Today, I am blaming not being consistent with the fact that I only have 50 minutes per day with these students.  It is hard to focus on individuals (that's terrible to say) when I have so much to teach and complete.  I am going to try to do better, and I will not give up!  The wall does work!  Even as I write this post, a student asked if she could help me move several students cards to the next level because they had earned enough stars.  She is helping me, and I gave her a star for "keeping me on track with the wall."  

On a positive note, my own son, a 7 year old, whispered in my ear and said this to me at home several nights ago, "Mom, can you start me a wall like the one you have at school?"  I have printed the cards and have it ready to go.  He as already earned 3 stars.  WAY TO GO, EAN!  

WBT Certification:
I have set up a blog through for my classroom.  It's gonna be 'a little bit of this, and a little bit of that,' but I want one focus to be my WBT journey.  My plan is to copy and paste a great deal of my online posts from this workshop because we have definitely been learning, and it has all be a journey.  If you have not thought about earning WBT Certification or had no clue this even existed, I encourage you to visit their website at to find out more.  I am so excited to about earning WBT Certification.

Hook, Line, and Sinker

Originally posted-April 3, 2013

I teach one World Cultures class, which is a nine week related arts class at my school. I call it a nine week trip around the world. We make our own passports, and beginning in Australia, we work our way around the world in a counter-clockwise fashion. I try to talk about as many different countries and cultures as I can, but this last nine week class started a little different. It went something like this: "Students in this class we have 5 classroom rules. We gesture a lot, too." :) Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. You get the idea, right? I started my new and final rotation of the year with, yes, you guessed it, WBT. It was awesome! In one class period, I taught these kiddos the 5 Classroom Rules, Class/Yes, Teach/Ok, Mirrors, and Switch. I had their full attention----Hook, Line, and Sinker, and it was absolutely awesome! It was awesome because a majority of this class does not have me as their history teacher, so it was all new to them. It was awesome because they were enjoying their new class, and learning the rules of the class was a very cool thing. It was also awesome because I got to review everything I had been learning about and using with my history students, but I was so comfortable introducing it this time around. I know know that the whole WBT set up can be taught in one class period (just like Coach B. says). WBT is really a great set up. From the start, the teacher teaches the Classroom Rules and CoreFour by using Class/Yes, Mirrors, Teach/Ok, and Switch. You can use CoreFour to teach CoreFour. How cool is that? It was a really fun class and a great way to begin the first day of the final nine week period. I can't wait to start the new school year with this first lesson (after a restful summer break, of course). Woo Hoo!!!

Spring Break-Super Improver Wall and Action Research Updates

Originally posted-April 2, 2013

Well, this week brings a much needed spring break (hence the day late in posting a blog entry). :) I am continuing my use of WBTs the five classroom rules, Class/Yes, Teach/Ok, Switch, Mirrors, and the Scoreboard. My students do not take their Third Nine Week Quarterly Assessment until April 12, so it's important that I continue with my WBT habits (WBT is my life now!!!) We were originally told that our assessment must be cumulative, but as details unfolded, we have been allowed to only test nine week material. It is important to note, though, that there are about 8 questions that are cumulative and cover material from the whole year. With that said, I am still anxious to see how my first nine week assessment compares to the third nine week test results. WBT, no matter the outcomes, has made a positive difference in my teaching and to student learning. I still love how the Scoreboard can encourage the most reluctant learner to participate. It's COOL! Last week, I decided to move my Super Improver Wall levels to 5 stars instead of 10. There's only 8 weeks left of school, and if I don't make that change, no student will advance. :( This has made all the difference. Making individual goals for students has been positive, also. Each child was given a behavior goal and an academic goal. This really gave students a focus and helped out a great deal. I have also allowed students to earn a star for completing homework well, as this has been a problem area with this particular class, especially as spring and warm weather sets in. This was also a great motivator for the class. I am continually looking for reasons to give stars, and most recently I added reading a history related novel and passing the Accelerated Reading test for the book. When they show me a passing score, they get a star. Since many of the students do not like reading, this is an extra incentive for doing so. I had my first student move from level one to level two, and he was so excited. This student often has difficulty focusing, and following class rules, so it was exciting to see him advance. Finally, last Friday, I did give two students index cards with their own personal Scoreboard. They both beat my score, and they both wanted to know 'what they got' for beating my score. I said, 'the privilege of knowing you beat the teacher.' And, for now, they were are satisfied with this! I will continue this approach for at least one more week. So far, so good. I hope to enjoy a restful Spring break and be energized for the remaining part of the school year. :)

Mind Soccer-Module 6

Originally posted-March 25, 2013

Well, Mind Soccer didn't work as I had imagined in my mind.  I found a really awesome description of Mind Soccer along with all of the rules and "ins and outs" of the game.  I think finding this just before I introduced this with my sixth graders may have overwhelmed me just a bit.  This combined with trying to explain the rules and not really knowing them myself factored into my first attempt not working as I had planned.  Now, this class loved the idea, but I wasn't calling out questions fast enough, and I wasn't comfortable with the rules, so I did not continue the game with the remaining three classes that day.  With there being so much information to review and cover the day before the World War II test, I just could not risk feeling as if I was wasting time by introducing a new game.  

So the rest of the day was spent reviewing with gestures, mirrors and words, and a cut, sort and glue of major events.  There was so much material to cover that I, honestly, could have used another day of review.  

I have not given up on mind soccer, but I do need to review the basic rules I found on the website, found here: Mind Soccer: Power Teaching Game, and practice during a time when I am not pressured by a time and testing.  The whole concept of the game is great, and I have not, by any means given up on using it.  I told all of my classes that I was devising a plan for completion of homework.  After five nights of homework, if each class has at least a 75% average of homework completion they will get to play Mind Soccer.  

75%-84%=3 minutes of M.S.
85%-94%=4 minutes of M.S.
95%-100%=5 minutes of M.S.

They were excited about the possibility of playing mind soccer!  But with very few minutes of play, the teacher must know the rules like the back of her hand.  And right now, I confess, I do not!

Have you ever played Mind Soccer with your students?  If so, so you have any suggestions for being prepared or getting started with the game?

UHM-Universal Homework Model and Mind Soccer

Originally posted-March 17, 2013

Spring fever has hit sixth grade. This is a natural occurrence each year just prior to spring break and Easter. With it comes lots of energetic 11 and 12 year olds and failure to complete homework assignments. So after reading the Universal Homework Model, I decided to add a section to each classes WBT Scoreboard. This section shows the percentage of students that completed homework. Honestly, most homework assignments are simple. They should never have to spend more than 10-15 minutes on any assignment. So, I expect homework to be completed and completed well! I am going to use Mind Soccer as an incentive for homework completion. After five days of tracking homework on our Scoreboard, averages will be figured. The higher the average, the more minutes of Mind Soccer will be played. On a positive note, I have noticed, in most cases, an increase in the percent of homework completed since I began tracking percents by class on the board. I think the competition between classes has helped as no one class wants to have the lowest percent. I am hoping I will also see an increase in completion after they play Mind Soccer.

Photo Credit: Melinda Sprinkle
I have never used the Mind Soccer game with students before. It is very high energy, so I hope I can keep up with the pace. We are reviewing for a World War II test, so this is the perfect opportunity to introduce a new game. I can wait to see how it goes.  I found these Mind Soccer samples and a WBT video about the UHM on YouTube.  I hope they help you as much as they assisted me!  

Mind Soccer Texas--This is a middle school math class review.  Really cool ideas.

Program 507 Mind Soccer-This is Chris Biffle's webinar on Mind Soccer. 

Whole Brain Teaching Mind Soccer- Watch Chris Rekstad, a WBT veteran, review content with his fourth graders.  

Program 501 Universal Homework-This is Chris Biffle's webinar on the Universal Homework Model or UHM.

All are great introductions to learning about Mind Soccer and UHM.
(As see in the photo...) 1. During the second semester, I have incorporated a quote of the week beside my Scoreboard.  I think it adds a lot to the environment of my classroom.  2. The Scoreboard is loved by my sixth graders.  They do not like to see me win.  3. H.W. stands for homework.  You can see we have tracked three homework assignments.  
More to come. Melinda

Action Research Cycle-Week 10 (The Super Improver Wall Update)

Originally published-March 15, 2013

I am happy to report, I used a whole sheet of stars with students and the Super Improvers Wall this week! Well, almost!

Photo Credit: Melinda Sprinkle      

Now, I am still struggling with what to award stars for, and honestly, I am going to have to force myself to take the time to make specific goals for each individual student in this class. As I think about each boy and girl and try to narrow my focus to one student who is struggling academically or socially, I have two that the Super Improver Wall is making a difference with this week. On Wednesday, I awarded two stars to one student for following Rule 3: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat. The second was given because I was able to read his handwriting, a task I have not been able to do this whole year. How awesome is that? The second student was given a star for staying on task and completing work in his notebook. This particular student also let me know he had all of his supplies. I should have had him show me and given a star for that, too. Both of these students were so excited they were given stars, and now they are ahead of their classmates. I'm predicting they will move to Scoreboard Level Two before the others. I really need to create specific goals for each student! It is difficult to monitor this when I only see them for 45-50 minutes per day. But, everyone does have at least one star. Since it is hard to monitor, writing specific goals will help me focus more on what I am suppose to look for. I would also like for the Paraprofessional (aide) in my class to help me set student goals as well. I want her to feel she, too can award stars. 

I have not had to use Scoreboard Level Two (Practice Cards) yet. But I feel I need to focus on this as well. I have the bulletin board set up with clothes pins (see previous blog post). I have, honestly, seen an improvement since I introduced the SIW and do not feel anyone has merited practice. So, that is a great thing. I'm sure it is on the horizon though. 

This particular class has went from not working together to mastering a beautiful "YES, SWITCH, and OK." There were many days I felt like giving up and the WBT techniques were just not going to work with this class. I am a total convert. My persistence paid off, and WBT does work well with my challenging students. 

I can't wait to see how next week's WBT World War II review goes and find out the test results.