Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BT Book Club Chapter 15: Super Improvers Team

WBTs Super Improvers Team strengths, most certainly, outweigh its weaknesses! Here are my top four strengths:

1. The Super Improvers Team is individualized. Children race against themselves as they work for stars. By removing the ‘competition among peers,’ students are highly motivated to break personal records. All students, no matter their ability or age, love setting and breaking personal records. 

2. It’s visible and color coded. I love the simple, yet brilliant fact, that the SIT is visible to everyone. When individual stars and levels are added, students receive immediate feedback, personal gratification, and success. Now, who doesn’t want to see themselves move up the ranks? All kids, no matter their ability, love to do well, and they love for others to know they are making progress. Everyone has areas they can improve in, but the challenging students will quickly advance because they have many areas for improvement. 

3. The Super Improvers Team has levels! There’s something mysterious about ‘levels.’ Even adults love a good game with levels. The SIT has 10+ levels, so there’s no end to the ability to progress. I loved the WBT book idea of taking photographs at various intervals with the finale of level ten students making it to the ‘forever photo wall of fame.’ SIT levels appeal to all learners.

4. The SIT is versatile. There are an infinite number of ways to award stars. Following classroom rules and procedures, correcting disruptive behaviors, improving handwriting and writing skills, completing homework, showing leadership, helping, and participating are only a few of the reasons for awarding stars. Teachers can even set ‘team goals. And, if you run out of ideas, teachers can ask their students to help. As WBT veteran, Kate Bowski suggests, your students can suggest and nominate their classmates for Super Improver stars. The possibilities are endless.

It was difficult to identify SIT weaknesses, but if I am completely honest, I was able to identify a one concern. As a middle school teacher, I only see each class 50 minutes per day. In the spring of 2013, I started my own SIT, and with the content that must be taught within one class period, I found it difficult to award stars. On a positive note, the SIT brought attention to the importance of ‘noticing the good’ in my students. Near the end of school, one student suggested many good ideas for awarding stars. I think consistency is key, and the more I reflect on the SIT, the more ideas I will have for awarding stars and promoting it with my students. This year, I am excited because my sixth grade team will be implementing WBT together. This will make all the difference when concerns arise. Four brains will be better than one!

The Super Improvers Team is a highly effective tool for helping extremely challenging students. I have seen, first hand, the usefulness of the wall with difficult, hard to reach students. These children crave attention, and unfortunately, it is usually negative. The SIT visibly rewards these students for positive behavior, one goal at a time.

Personal Note: I am currently using the Super Improvers Team at home with my 8 year old son. He loves the wall, and I have seen improvement in his behavior. He’s not a bad kid, but the wall has encouraged his kindness toward his younger brother and his helpfulness around the house. He loves the fact that I will not take stars away for poor decisions or behavior. He loves the stickers and the levels. It has been fun to work with at home this summer.