Saturday, June 22, 2013

June Currently

Photo Credit:

Listening:  It seems like the best time for me to accomplish anything computer related, or me, myself, and I related, is late at night.  It sure is quiet, and I get a lot done.  Too bad I can see well to clean up or clean out.  Tee Hee!

Loving:  I absolutely love my summer break away from teaching.  I love to sleep later, stay in my pjs later, and drink that extra cup of "soffee."  That's what my 2 year old calls coffee.  Soffee!  I love seeing my boys all day long!

Thinking:  I really need some alone time with my 8 year old son.  I know he misses his mommy time without a baby brother.  The little one gets so much attention.  I think we need to go see Monsters University--just the two of us.  Wouldn't that be fun!

Wanting:  My home remodeling project is still not finished, and by the looks of things, it's going to be a while.  The builders are taking FOREVER.  Did I say forever?  :)  It's going to be awesome when it's finished though.

Needing:  I always use my summer break to clean out and clean up my home.  Room by room, it slowly gets done.  Need I say more?

3 Vaca. Essentials:  If I don't carry sunscreen, my nose gets burnt.  My kiddos need it, too.  I love to take photos, and when I don't have by huge DSLR, my iPhone does the job.  I like to capture video, too.  Finally, I always require a sippy cup for the 2 year old.  It's a must when we leave the house!


WBT Book Club Chapters 8-10: Teach-Okay

The Seven Politcal Regions of the United States

Teacher: Claaaaaaaaass!

Students: Yeeeeeeeees!

Teacher: Today, we are going to talk about the seven political regions of the United States.  Tell your neighbor how excited you are to learn about the seven regions!  Teach!

Students: Okay!  (Students teach their neighbor what the teacher just said.)  

Teacher: Class!  Class!  Class!

Students: Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

Teacher: The United States is made up of 50 states.  A state is an example of a political region.  States may be grouped as part of different regions.  A political region is an area of a county.  In this U.S. History class, we group the 50 states by regions.  There are seven regions we need to learn.  Teach!

Students: Okay!  (Students teach their neighbor what the teacher just said).

Teacher:  U.S. Regions, Class!

Students: U.S. Regions, Yes! (Students will teach their neighbor how many U.S. states there are, what a region is, and how many regions they are going to learn.)

Teacher: Classity, Class Class!

Students: Yessity, Yes Yes!

Teacher: We will learn our regions by traveling from the east to the west across the United States.  The first two regions are the Northeast and the Southeast.  The Northeast is in the northern and eastern part of the U.S. (Teacher points to the north and east.)  The Northeast is know for having cold temperatures during the winter, so we will think of the color purple, a cool color, when talking about the Northeast.  The Southeast is in the southern and eastern part of the U.S. (Teacher points to the south and east.)  The Southeast is know for fertile green farmland, so we will use the color green, for grass, when thinking about the Southeast.  Clap!  Clap! Air Whiteboard-Teach!

Students: Clap!  Clap!  Okay!  (Students will draw and use a large imaginary whiteboard during this remaining part of this lesson.  It is one of WBTs "Brain Toys."  To begin, students draw a white board by drawing/saying, "Zip.  Zip.  Zip."  Then, they wipe off the lower left corner by wiping/saying, "EEE...EEE...EEE."  Students will trace the outline of the U.S. on their board and then us it to teach the Northeast and Southeast regions.) 

Teacher:  Zippity, Zippity Class!

Students: Zippity, Zippity Yes!

Teacher: Now, that we have learned about the Northeast and Southeast, we move to the middle of the U.S. (Teacher moves her hands to the Northeast and Southeast then places hands on hips to represent the middle.)  The middle part of America is called the Midwest because it is in the middle.  We will color code the Midwest yellow because in this region, temperatures begin to heat up. (Teacher fans herself using her hand.)  Midwest, whiteboard Teach!

Students: Midwest, whiteboard Okay!  (Students use the Air Whiteboard to review the Northeast, Southeast and to tell about the Midwest.)

Teacher: Geo., Class!

Students: Geo., Yes!

Teacher: Now, we move a little farther west to the Rocky Mountain/Western region.  Here, we have the Rocky Mountains that stretch as far north as Canada and as far south as Mexico.  (Teacher uses hands to show where Canada and Mexico are.)  This region gets its name from being on the western side of the U.S. and because The Rocky Mountains, the largest mountain range in American, runs through this region.  Brown will be the region color to show mountains.  (Teacher points west and uses both hands to create 'mountain peaks.')  In a whisper the teacher says, "Whiteboard, Teach!"

Students: In a whisper, students say, "Whiteboard, Okay!"  (Students tell their neighbor about the Rocky/Mountain Region.) 

Teacher: Class Class!  Class Class Class!

Students: Yes Yes!  Yes Yes Yes!

Teacher: Ok! We have now discussed the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain/Western Regions of the U.S..  We have three more to go!  Tell your neighbor what regions we have already discussed and how many we have left.  Teach!

Students: Okay! (Students review the regions so far and how many are left.)

Teacher: Class!

Students: Yes! 

Teacher: The Southwest region is in the southern and western part of the United States.  It's climate is hot hot, hot and dry, dry, dry, so we will use the hotest color there is-RED!  (Teacher uses her hand to show where south and west are and fans herself to describe the climate.)  Hot!  Hot!  Hot!  Whiteboard!  Teach!

Students: Hot!  Hot!  Hot!  Whiteboad!  Yes!  (Students teach their neighbor the location, climate, and color for the Southwest.)

Teacher: Last Two, Class!

Students: Last Two, Yes!

Teacher: The Pacific region borders the Pacific Ocean.  It is in the far western part of the connected 48 states.  Because it borders the ocean, we will think of the color blue for this region.  (Teacher creates waves with hand, points to the west, then clasps hands together to show connected.)  The final region is not connected to the U.S. main land.  Sooooooo, we call these two states the Non-Contiguous region.  Alaska is connected to Canada, and Hawaii is a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean.  We will use orange to represent this Non-Contiguous region.  (Teacher unclasps hands to show non-contiguous, points north to Canada, west to Hawaii, and creates an O to show the color orange.)  Whiteboard-Teeeeeach!

Students: Whiteboard-Yeeeeeees!  (Students teacher their neighbor about the Pacific and Non-Contiguous regions.)

Teacher: Oh, Class!

Students: Oh, Yes!  

Teacher: Alright!  Let's sum up these regions.  A region is an area of a country and a way to group the 50 states.  We have to know the 7 Regions of the United States and where they are.  These include the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Rocky Mountain/Western, Southwest, Pacific, and Non-Contiguous regions.  (Teacher holds up 7 fingers and then points to each area using her hands as a compass.)  Final Teach!

Students: Final Okay!  (Students teacher their neighbor what teacher has just said.)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

WBT Book Club Chapter 7: Five, Powerful Classroom Rules

My sixth grade team is planning on implementing WBT this fall.  We teach on a team of four, including one math, science, language, and history teacher.  Introducing the five classroom rules on day one will be significant.  Using the same gestures, reasoning for each rule, and getting students to "buy in" to the rules will also be invaluable.  Each of us will introduce each of the five rules really well with each of our four core classes, especially during the first several days of school.  This will show each student that the Canterbury Castle teachers are united our their rules and our expectations. 

The one rule I feel is important in sixth grade is Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.  There are times when students should be allowed to speak freely, but during regular day-to-day activies, "chaos" can prevented by following this rule.  Sixth graders are social butterflies, they love to talk, talk, talk, and Rule 2 helps keep order.  I plan to use the Scoreboard to reward points when students are following this rule, especially when it has been broken and improvement takes place.  As noted in Coach Bs individual rule videos, sometimes it might be necessary to have a time set aside for classes to practice "purposefully" breaking a rule.  When the students are given a chance to "act out" the breaking of a rule, it gives opportunity to discuss the importance of following the rule.  Reminding students that they voted on the rules also brings attention back to the importance of the rules.  

Daily and throughout the year, I will verbally call out the rules, especially Rule 2.  When a student breaks Rule 2, I will say, "Rule 2" and hold up 2 fingers.  Students with then unite as a group and say, "Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak" while holding up two fingers and gesturing a talking motion with their hands.  It is amazing how offenders conform to the united group.

As you can see, rehearsal is the key.  As I "vary my tone of voice, the size of my gestures, and even allow students to lead the rehearsal of classroom rules," the five classroom rules, especially Rule 2, will be reinvigorated and even amusing throughout the whole school year.  I'm so excited just thinking about it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

WBT Book Club Chapter 5: The Brain on Whole Brain Teaching

Thinking about your own teaching tendencies, which brain areas are you most likely, and least likely, to activate in your students? 

As I think about my own teaching style, I am more likely to activate the visual cortex (seeing), the Motor Cortex (movement), the Wernicke's Area (listenting), and the Limbic System (Emotions) parts of the brain.  Most teachers tend to incorporate lessons that include the learning style they like best, and I am no different.  I am a very visual learner, so I use images and video clips a lot in my lessons.  I have always tried, though, to incorporate other learning styles, too, although my lessons lean toward auditory and visual.  I have been told by former students that I am called the 'Color-Coding Nazi.' Ha!  Ha!  I do think that color, as opposed to black and white, 'wakes the brain.'  We chant and march, sing, listen to music, and many students even create their own lyrics.  I also have students create their own podcasts (digital voice recordings) that we listen to as a group.  Act-It-Outs are a part of my lesson planning, too.  Students take a topic, often a problem in history, and present a short skit (often moderated by a news host-me) to the class.  I use a great deal of maps in my lessons, as well.  I have student led lessons that allow the kids to mark on large U.S. and world maps about what we have been studying.  

I also use an interactive notebook with my history students.  Essentially, the left side of the notebook is the instructional side, and the right side of the notebook is the student side.  (Left side: input, right side: output)  We color code a lot in our notebooks.  I have used the term 'mental model' since the beginning of my teaching career to describe to students mental images we see in our head when we hear certain terms, ideas, and vocabulary words.  I even have students draw 'mental models' on their notes and on their 'output' notebook side.  There are many 'student side' activities that help learners process new information for later recall.  

Until I found Whole Brain Teaching, I was least likely to activate the Pre-Frontal Cortex (the brain's light switch), the Amygdala (pleasure/pain), and the Broca's Area (Speaking).  Let's face it!  It is very difficult to get middle school students interested in learning content material.  My whole group discussions rarely ever included half the class.  However, since implementing WBT strategies on a 'consistent basis' this spring, I am more alert during my planning of lessons.  Using WBTs Core Four and The Big Seven has helped me be more relaxed and more humorous, an attribute my sixth graders love and appreciate.  I am a better teacher because I think I am activating more parts of my own brain.  Now, I can't imagine teaching without using WB!