Sunday, July 21, 2013

WBT Book Club-Chapter 21: The Bull's Eye Game

When comparing and contrasting the Bull’s Eye Game to methods I have used and observed when dealing with a challenging student, it does have several qualities that make it worth using when needed.  I teach sixth grade, and strategies that once worked in elementary school, do not work at the middle school level.  During my teaching career, I have taught several students that have refused to complete tasks.  They seem immune to any consequence.  In my opinion, nothing their teachers, including myself, ever did changed their behavior or encouraged them to participate and work for any good length of time.  I have seen students given desk checklists and behavior trackers, candy, stickers, and play money.  I have participated on teams where we discussed behavior with individual students and created behavior plans.  One time, a plan was even created for a student to give him individual “free time” at the end of the day if his behavior “tracker sheet” totaled X number of points per day.  Unfortunately, none of these methods were successful.  Taking into consideration the aforementioned failed plans, I enjoyed reading about the Bull’s Eye Game.  I have never tried this strategy, but I can see the bull’s eye target, itself, making a big statement to the entire class.  Just like playing an electronic game, students love to earn points, so it holds the “fun factor,” too.  

Compared to other methods, I see several important features of the Bull’s Eye Game that were missing in strategies I have previously tried and observed.  First, the child is involved in the assessment.  I like the fact that the student scores him/herself and compares that to what the teacher was thinking.  The closer their score is to the teachers, the more bull’s eye points they score.  Second, this strategy involves frequent student and teacher reflection.  By meeting with the student several times a day, they are really thinking about their actions and overall behavior.  Finally, the Bull’s Eye Game is goal specific.  Small, easily attainable goals are targeted, and the challenging student knows, specifically, what is expected in order to gain points.  In the long run, many small achievements would improve overall work ethic and behavior during class time.  

My only concern at the middle school level is with the stickers.  In my opinion, stickers will not motivate most 11 and 12 year olds.  This could be remedied, though, as our team could easily choose another incentive that would hold more value if necessary. 

WBT Book Club-Chapter 20: The Independents

Thinking back to my middle school years, I can really remember two or three students that I would have called rebels.  All three were female, and they fed on the torture of others.  They were what I would call “part of the rough crowd” and what WBT calls a “clique of students.”  Growing up in a small community, unfortunately, meant you were in small classes, too.  I rode the bus with these girls, ate lunch at the same time as them, and was in all of their classes.  They fed off of each other, and their behavior carried over into the classroom.  If only my teachers had been wise to the ways of Whole Brain Teaching!  Independents Scoreboard Level Five would definitely have worked like a charm with them.  I know the rest of the class would have been grateful not to be punished for the girls’ actions, and these girls would have quickly learned the importance of separating themselves from situations that were getting them into trouble.  One mean-spirited rebel, who loved harassing others, led this group of girls.  Together, they preyed on weaker, more timid students, like me.  The Independent level would have played one student against the others, because when one misbehaved, they would have all gotten into trouble.  This would have, most certainly, evaporated the clique.  My friends and I would have bonded more and supported the teacher wholeheartedly.  I remember one time, in seventh grade, when the whole class was punished and not allowed to go outside because of these girls.  This would never have happened with “The Independents!”

WBT Book Club-Chapter 19: The Guff Counter

Mr. S-

We just wanted to let you know that our Classroom Management System is in full swing.  You had inquired about our team’s Super Improvers Team (Level 2 of our Scoreboard), and we want you to be reminded that it is the best strategy we have implemented for encouraging individual student improvement and success.  We wanted you to be aware we have also introduced a new class management technique, the Guff Counter (Scoreboard Level 4).  We have had several students back talk and be disrespectful lately, and the Guff Counter is specifically designed to eliminate this.  We know, as you have stated many times, “Student success relies heavily on keeping their E-tanks (emotional tanks) full.  It is difficult to keep E-tanks full when others are disrespectful during class, and with months of school left, we felt it was time to add this classroom management strategy.  

Here’s how the Guff Counter works:  We have added a row, called Guff, to each of our classroom scoreboards.  When we see disrespectful behavior, either toward us or other students (eye rolling, back talk, groaning, etc.), we will verbally say, “That sounds like guff to me, where's my marker?"  This will cue the class to raise their hand with a "stopping gesture" while firmly responding, “Please stop!”  This effective classroom management strategy unites the class behind the teachers and the team because it does not allow disrespectful behavior to be tolerated.  This quickly shows the guffer that they are all alone and not supported by their classmates.  During the introduction/practice session, students lost one point for each disrespectful word/gesture, but in reality, they will never lose points for individual guff.  Students do not want to lose points and will always stand behind the teacher's leadership.  They can, however, earn points for uniting together when they say, “Please stop!”  

“No one may interrupt instruction and learning” is one of our team expectations, and we can’t afford to allow rebel students to win a classroom struggle.  Nor is it our goal for any one student to be hurt or upset.  The Guff Counter is an effective classroom management technique because it allows us to correct the behavior as a class so we can quickly continue with learning.  

Thank you for supporting our team’s Whole Brain Teaching efforts.  We just thought we should let you know about our current steps toward making our team stronger and more proficient.  

None of us is stronger than all of us!

Respectfully yours,

Team Canterbury Castle