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Friday, January 31, 2014

Five for Friday- 1-31-14!!!

Wow my kiddos totally rocked today! Fridays are normally not very good days but it was the BEST day we had all week and definitely the BEST Friday we have had all year! I have one thing that gets all the credit for a fabulous day! By now you are probably wondering what that one thing may be. Well, let me tell you! It is Whole Brain Teaching! I am so glad I did all the research I did over Christmas break because it has completely transformed my students, my teaching, and myself! I'm a true believer!

This past week I decided to put the 13 Week Master Class on a pause due to a VERY rough start to the week (a couple of my kiddos had some rough days that through off everything for the week). I plan to start Week 3 this week so check back for my post on the focus of the week. It will be posted sometime this weekend. Plus, I have more WBT topics to talk about!

Today I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly linky of Five for Friday:

Today we did a super cute craftivity to put up on our bulletin boards. Unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture of it so I will just share the product with you and then I will post a pic later this week. We made Valentine's Day robots. It is a product from Aimee over at Primarily Speaking.

They are super cute and my kiddos had so much fun making them. We will be doing the writing prompt to go along with it next week!

I had a lovely stranger donate $25 to my Donor's Choose project yesterday and I was jumping for joy. We still have quite a bit to go before my project is fully funded, but we are one step closer. We are working on getting some stability balls, floor cushions, and floor pillows to use as options for my students to sit during independent and small group time. I am currently doing my research and looking in to possibly doing alternative seating next year. These items will help with that and will definitely help this years group of students. They do so much better when they can choose where to sit. If you would like to donate to my project it is found HERE!
I would really appreciate it!

Like I mentioned earlier I have some posts coming up on the WBT strategies I have recently used in my classroom. It is a part of my Whole Brain Teaching series of posts.
I hope you will check back to see what these fabulous strategies are doing for my students.
I am so excited for my evaluation in a couple of weeks now that I have these fabulous WBT strategies transforming my classroom. I can't wait to share with my administrator how amazing WBT is.
Sorry, in case you can't tell, I have majorly jumped on the WBT bandwagon!
Power to the Teacher!

For those of you who don't know, I am also a Jr. High Track coach and our season starts in one month! I cannot wait! I am already preparing for our season. Last year, we started having a fabulous fundraiser that is not very common. Actually I don't know of any place that does it around us. We have a track meet that is open for the public to participate in. It is a fun filled day and raises quite a bit of money. We have started preparations for this years event.
The best part is I coach with my hubby and my dad! That means that tonight, the hubby and I are going on a date because we have some shopping to We are going out to eat and then going shopping for paper for our flyers so we can start getting them printed. 
If you live in my area and are interested in participating in our event HERE is the Facebook page with all of the details.

I have saved this last one to brag on one of my kiddos. He was one of the ones I was talking about earlier having a rough start to his week. He is autistic and ADHD. They have recently determined that they also think he may be ODD. Anyways he has often has issues and Monday and Tuesday were really bad days for him. Things settled down Wednesday and Thursday, but they were not perfect by any means. Today this little guy came in and was absolutely FABULOUS. He really struggles with not talking out, but today, oh man today, he raised his hand ALL day long when he wanted to talk. It was so fabulous, I just couldn't keep it to myself! I have been bragging to everyone about his day! He paid attention all day, participated, and was so well behaved! I am just so stinking proud of him.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching- Crazy Professor Reading Game

Have you heard of the Whole Brain Teaching strategy the Crazy Professor Reading Game?

I first tried the Crazy Professor Reading Game last week and it completely transformed my students' comprehension of the weekly story. I saw so much progress in their scores on the weekly test. Almost every student passed this week (compared to my normal of only having about three fourths pass).

It is a variation of Buddy Reading the improves reading comprehension. Since we are still learning it we have been doing it as a whole group. We will slowly start transitioning to doing it as Buddy Reading.

There are different ways to play; we have only played the Dramatic Reading way.

Dramatic Reading- reader reads dramatically and the listener makes gestures

Paraphrasing- reader reads in dramatic tone AND makes gestures while the listener silently mirrors; the reader should be paraphrasing what the story was about

Q and A- questioner and answerer BOTH use gestures and a dramatic tone

Connecting- any connection between reading and anything known/imagined is a good connection; students clap hands together every time they make a connection; when first practicing do it as a group with students saying "connection" and clapping hands whenever a connection is made

Silent Skimming- students move one finger down the page as they skim ahead for key information; this one should not be done aloud

Silent Reading- students make gestures as they read silently

Silent Summarizing- students silently or quietly tell story to themselves while making gestures

Crazy Professor- students are loud and energetic; use wild gestures and a dramatic tone; props should be used as well

Last week I read our weekly story selection in a dramatic tone and my students were encouraged to make BIG gestures. I enticed them by telling them I was looking for students with the best gestures to come up and lead the class. That made their gestures even better. This practice helped my students to better understand the story and we had so much fun with it!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching- SuperSpeed Grammar

Today I am sharing another Whole Brain Teaching game that my students absolutely love playing. It is called SuperSpeed Grammar.

Superspeed Grammar covers 10 units: nouns, verbs, sentences, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and prepositional phrases, pronouns, articles, conjunctions, and appositives. Each unit builds upon the last. It is important with this SuperSpeed game that you move slowly and carefully. You should stop often and have the students explain the concept to each other. This ensures that they are fully understanding the concept.

In each unit, students learn what the concept is and are given examples. They then are given practice for identifying the concept and giving examples of the concept.

My students have worked through the nouns unit. It first taught them each part of a noun. Starting with a person, giving examples, moving on to place, giving examples, and then moving on to thing and giving examples. They were then given a variety of pictures and challenged to give as many nouns as possible. They started out with the obvious nouns, but after a few slides they started to think about the more detailed nouns such as eye, mouth, hand, etc. It ended with a Big Hairy Test in which they had to identify nouns in pictures.

We started on the verbs unit at the end of the week last week and have continued working on it this week. This unit starts out focusing on verbs being action words. It goes through examples of verbs and then students have to come up with verbs that are taking place in the pictures. After they get the verb concept down it loops back around to nouns by having students identify the noun and verb in sentences and then in pictures. 

I have not gone through any of the other units yet so I will share those as I go through them with my students. I find it is easier to share about the units after I have actually gone through them with my students.

My students beg to play SuperSpeed Grammar every day. They love coming up with nouns and verbs. They can now tell me without hesitation what a noun is and what a verb is.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching- Genius Ladder

Today I want to tell you all about the Genius Ladder.

It is used to develop student speaking and writing skills. We play it for 15 minutes every day after lunch. It involves creatively uses nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions while writing complex topic sentences and tightly focused paragraphs.

It starts out with a blah sentence. A blah sentence consists of an article noun verb. Very simple and very blah. Students take turns replacing the verb in the sentence as many times as they can. Students then take turns replacing the noun in the sentence as many times as they can.

After the blah sentence we move on to the spicy sentence. A spicy sentence consists of an article adjective noun verb. Students take turns replacing the adjective in the sentence as many times as they can.

The next level is the extender sentence. An extender sentence consists of an article adjective noun verb extender. It is important for students to understand that an extender is a phrase that adds important information to the story. Students take turns replacing the extender in the sentence as many times as they can.

Move on to the next level when ready (I have not done this level with my students yet; we are focusing on the previous levels for a while before adding this in. The next levels are the Genius Sentence and the Genius Paragraph. Students take the sentence created by adding the extender and add adders on to it. Adders must be about the target word which is the noun in the sentence. They must support the key noun in the topic sentence. At this point students should transition from speaking to writing. They should practice writing as many genius paragraphs as they can in a time limit (ten minutes is a good time frame). Each paragraph should contain the topic sentence and at least two adder sentences. After the time limit you should show some examples. The students should also have the opportunity to share their examples if they would like to.

Students will improve tremendously in their writing the more they work through the Genius Ladder. On the Whole Brain Teaching website they have free ebooks. One of the ebooks is a Genius Ladder document. It contains over 500 slides with examples of each rung of the genius ladder. It is broken down into three levels (Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced) and it gets harder as you go.

My students absolutely love the Genius Ladder. They beg for more and cheer every time I tell them we are going to play.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching- Week 1 Recap and Starting Week 2: 100% Engagement!

Here I am for my weekly recap. As I mentioned last week I am going back and doing the 13 Week Challenge found on the Whole Brain Teaching website.

Last week's challenge was focused on attention getters. I did not do as well as I would have liked, but with the exception of Monday, I was able to get the goal of using attention getters at least 20 times a day. Friday I only ended up with 15, but we did have a two-hour early dismissal so I am still counting that as meeting the goal. I am hoping to step it up a little this week and have set a personal goal of using attention getters at least 30 times each day.

Week 2's challenge is focused on 100% Engagement; the video can be found here.

I'll start out with the three levels and then I will explain a little more in detail.

Rookie: use Mirror Words at least ten times a day

Pro: use Silent Mirrors at least ten times a day

All Star: use a mixture of Mirror Words, Silent Mirrors, and Magic Mirrors at least twenty times a day

Just like last week I will be keeping track of these with a tally sheet.

For those of you unfamiliar with WBT, let me start out with explaining what Mirror Words, Silent Mirrors, and Magic Mirrors are. For Mirror Words, you should say "Mirror Words" and hold up your hands. Students respond with "Mirror Words" and hold up their hands. They now will repeat after you and do the same motions as you. Silent Mirrors is done the same way except students do not repeat your words, just your motions. In Magic Mirrors, you put your hands behind your back and students create their own gestures for what you say.

Mirror Words (and the other variations) involves students' motor, visual, and auditory cortices, resulting in Whole Brain Learning. The best learning takes place when the motor cortex is activated. Everything is retained in our brain through the motor cortex.

Student do better with Teach Okay if they have practiced the gestures ahead of time by using Mirror Words.

Mirror Check should be performed every so often to make sure students are doing it properly. When you do a Mirror Check you say "Mirror Check" and then move your hands around wildly. Watch to make sure all students are following along.

Mirror Words is used to tell a story, describe a process, teach a state standard, for crowd control, or to wake up a sleepy class.

This week I also tried out three other components of Whole Brain Teaching that I would like to share with you. They are both completely transforming my classroom. They are Genius Ladder, Crazy Professor Reading Game, and SuperSpeed Grammar. Stay tuned in the next couple of days to learn about these other Whole Brain Teaching strategies.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

New Brag Tags

I have posted a new set of Brag Tags in my TPT store. There are several more to come. I will leave these free until tomorrow and then I will put a price on them.

This set features brag tags for when students lose a tooth, to celebrate the 100th day, to recognize students for not having late homework, and to recognize students for bright thinking.

I hope you enjoy these! Please be sure to leave feedback if you download these!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five for Friday- 1/17/14

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly linky party Five for Friday.

First up, I am loving having another computer in my room. I have recently started using Spelling City to have my students take their weekly spelling tests. That definitely called for needing more devices in my room. My hubby had a computer sitting around the house that he no longer uses so it got moved to my room. Last year my dad was getting rid of an old computer so I also have that one. My room originally had the two laptops in it. I now have two laptops, two desktops, and two iPads. This means I have six devices when the wireless internet is working. When it is not I have the two desktops with a direct connection and then there is my teacher desktop that I will let them use during those times.

I have seen such a major change this week in my abilities to teach using the Whole Brain Teaching method. I will be posting my weekly post one day this weekend letting you know how this week's challenge went. I will also be sharing with you about the Genius Ladder and SuperSpeed Grammar. These two programs made a huge impact in my classroom this week! I can't wait to see how much more of an impact it can make!
Be sure to stop back by if you are interested in learning more about WBT!

We added a new item to our indoor recess selection and the kiddos are absolutely loving it. My sister got me this as a Christmas present and it is perfect! It is called a Flash Pad. There are several different games that can be played on it. This is their new favorite thing to play on snowy days like we had this week.

As I talked about in an earlier post, I have ended my relationship with Dropbox and have started a new one with Copy. Boy am I ever glad I did that! I have loved having Copy and it is so easy to use. At this point I have a total of 40 GB of storage now! I am looking forward to organizing my files this weekend and moving over my clipart/backgrounds/frames/fonts to use in making products.

I am loving the Brag Tags that I have been working on. I am excited to post some more this weekend. Be sure to stop by for your chance to grab them while they are free! I will be posting them free for a limited time. Be sure to follow me so you don't miss out on this wonderful opportunity.

Head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see the other Five for Fridays!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Have you heard of Copy?

Oh my ya'll; it was a crazy weekend. I was fully prepared to post a Five for Friday last Friday, but the photos were on my phone. I went to add them to my dropbox so that I would have them on my laptop for my post. Well my Dropbox went in to overdrive and froze up.

I spent many hours working on it over the weekend. I gave up on it fixing and decided to set up another Dropbox account. I added my files to it and because of the whole ordeal some of my files were messed up. I finally decided to break up with Dropbox. I have been a diehard Dropbox fan, but I was running out of space and after all of these problems I decided it was in my best interest to just move on.

And boy am I ever glad I did! I found my new love! I did a little research and came across Copy. Have ya'll heard of it? Well it is pretty awesome. It is VERY similar to Dropbox, but it starts out with 15 GB instead of the 2 GB that Dropbox starts out with. And for every person you refer you get an additional 5 GB. I will be set on space for a good while.

Copy has an app for all of my Apple products so I can access my documents on every device I own. Have I mentioned that I am a diehard Apple girl? Well I am. I don't personally own any devices non apple brand anymore. There are some non Apple items in my classroom, but that is completely out of my control...sorry I got off on my obsession with Apple. Back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

I highly recommend Copy to you all especially if you're really into TPT, whether a buyer or seller. I now have the ability to store all my free and purchased products that I have found, all my fonts/backgrounds/frames/clipart, and all of my own created products. Plus so much more.

Now if I have you totally convinced to jump on the Copy bandwagon I would super appreciate it if you would follow this link Copy. If you do you will find yourself with 5 GB of additional storage! I call that a big WIN!

A little update on my weekly challenge for Whole Brain Teaching. Today I tracked my Attention Getters (well I tried...I think I missed a few). I recorded a total of 16 times. I would like to see an improvement on that tomorrow. We'll see how that goes!

I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday.

Good night ya'll!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Another Snow Day! Whole Brain Teaching 13 Week Challenge!

I am in the middle of my third snow day this week after being off since December 20th. I am ready to get back to teaching with my kiddos.

All this time has helped me to stick to my resolution of blogging, making more products for TPT, and researching Whole Brain Teaching.

I have been researching all break and am so excited to try again with WBT. I tried it at the beginning of the year, but had a hard time sticking with it because I was trying to focus on all of the components. I have discovered the 13 Week Master Class that was started back in September. The purpose of it was to focus on just one component at a time and to slowly build up to reaching Teacher Heaven. I am going to start with week one as soon as I get back to school. If you are unfamiliar with Whole Brain Teaching you should definitely check it out and if you are interested in starting I would recommend doing the 13 Week Master Class.

Week 1's focus is Attention Getters. Here is the video: Attention Getters.
I am going to try to at least master the Rookie level, which means I have a goal of using a variation of Class, Yes! to get the students' attention at least 20 times a day.

Class, Yes! is used to start lessons, reduce the hubbub of the classroom, for crowd control, before entering/leaving class, or to interrupt an activity. It works by you saying a variation of Class and students responding with the same variation of Yes and immediately look at you with their hands folded. If they don't remember to fold their hands you remind them and practice, practice, practice until it becomes natural. Students have fun doing this which helps to get the part of the brain involved with emotions going. The goal of Whole Brain Teaching is to have the Whole Brain activated in order to get the best learning.

This is one feature I use a lot still, but I do not feel like I use it as much as I should. I will start tracking how many times I use it so that I am holding myself accountable.

Some variations I use are:
~Class, class
~Classity, class
~Oh Class
~(whisper) Class
~(squeaky) Class
~(deep voice) Class
~Class (clap)
~Class Oh Class

I am still looking for some more ideas. Feel free to share your own versions with me.

If I master the Rookie level before the week is over I will move on to the Pro level. The Pro level is to you use Class, Boom! variations at least 10 times per day. This is the same as Class, Yes!, but there is a boom added at the end.

Some variations are:
~Class, Boom

The final level is the All Star level. In this level you ask a question that students need a lot of practice with (for third grade an example would be multiplication facts) then say boom. Students respond with the answer and boom. In the All Star level you should be using all three types equally at least 20 times a day.

The main thing with Attention Getters is to rehearse often! This is a major key factor in success. I will keep you all posted on how my progress is going. I will also update weekly on the focus of the week based on the 13 Week Master Class.


On another note, I have posted another set of brag tags to my TPT store:
These are brag tags that can be given out each month for perfect attendance for the month. I have more brag tags to come over the next few months.
These are at my introductory price of free for a limited time. Grab them before they have a price, but remember to leave some feedback.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Finally a Productive Snow Day!!

I have been on break since December 20th. We were supposed to go back Monday for a teacher day and Tuesday the kiddos were supposed to come back, but we got hit with snow and bitter cold temperatures. Only about five or six teachers were able to make it in for our teacher day so we were told we could just work in our rooms. I stayed until lunch and got quite a bit done. Then Tuesday was a snow day and I had absolutely no motivation to get anything done...until about 10 PM last night. Good thing today was also a snow day because I worked on some ideas until almost midnight and then I got up this morning and continued working. I was on a roll.

I have posted four new products to my TPT store (these are the first items I have posted since before feels so great to be posting some new items). Since I haven't really made anything else lately I am linking up this post with Tara's Monday Made It over at 4th Grade Frolics; after checking out my products you should head on over to her blog and see what everyone else has been making this month.

Oh and one more thing, all four of my new products are free for a limited time. Head on over to grab them up before they have a price. Please, please, please leave some feedback if you take advantage of this opportunity.

First up,
These are perfect for your Valentine's Day items; there are 72 different versions!

Next up,
Another perfect item to add to your Valentine's Day items.
These five little guys were the perfect addition to my next new item:

There are 15 different versions of these Valentine's Day cards. 
They will be perfect to hand out to my students on Valentine's Day with a little goody of some sort.

And finally,
I have really gotten in to making brag tags lately. I have many more to come over time. This is my first posted set. They are perfect to give students on their birthday.

Now head on over and snatch these up and don't forget to leave feedback! After that, head on over to 4th Grade Frolics for some more Monday Made Its!