Tuesday, 31 January 2012

WBT & Students who are Introverted

     On Saturday I attended an EduCon conversation about the students in our classes who may be introverted and how we can best address their needs in our classrooms. Ever since then, I have been trying to brainstorm some ideas on how I may use whole brain teaching strategies and have them be a positive experience for these students.

     Tony Baldasaro mentioned a few times throughout the conversation that students who are introverted need time to think and reflect silently on a subject before sharing their ideas with others. He used the example that a student who is introverted may not be able to provide a response in class but will think of a wonderful response in their next class after they have had time to think things through. One of the things I thought that may assist this issue is to provide our students with a "schedule" of what the next day is going to look like. This could be a physical handout, an agenda on the board or a note that we have our students copy down. It would outline the different topics that we are going to cover and what type of activity(ies) we would be doing (group discussion, reading, handout, project, etc). By providing this schedule, our students who are introverted would have a full 24 hours to think about what information is going to be introduced in class and what will be required of them in regards to participation. I think that this may assist in achieving a positive classroom experience because our student's already have a basic introduction to the class and can be more prepared to participate. Bonus, it will keep us more organized as well! :)
               Geography: First Nations and the Treaty Process
                - Definition of First Nations (Teach-Ok with partners)
                - Group discussion about prominent First Nations individuals
                - Definition of treaty (Teach-Ok with partners)
                - Do you know of any treaties in Canada?
                - History of treaties
     One thing that people are quick to notice is that whole brain teaching classrooms are not always quiet environments! While being structured and on-task, they require high levels of student involvement which often asks students to participate verbally. How would this work if one, or more, of our students requires silent time in order to process information?  One of the things that we could incorporate is silent "Teach-Ok". It would function the same as regular "Teach-Ok" but we would have our students mouth the review silently while they do the gestures as opposed to verbally reviewing. This is something that I would use to switch up the classroom if I noticed that one, or more, of my students were needing a bit of a break. Playing off this same idea, we could also use a noise-meter in the classroom to indicate to our students what level of noise is appropriate during a specific time. If I felt that one, or more, of my students needed a break I could "crank down" the noise meter to have students whisper during "Teach-Ok".

     I know that this isn't a long list but it is a start! I would love any suggestions that you can offer on other ways that we could adapt whole brain teaching strategies.

(These are just some ideas that I came up with that are specifically related to whole brain teaching strategies that I have used. I understand that every student is unique and I would ensure that I had full comprehension of my student to guarantee that my student's needs are being addressed in the most appropriate manner.)

Monday, 30 January 2012

Resources to Start Off Your Week 2

Its a new week and what better way to start off our week by finding some great new online resources to use in our classrooms. Remember, I will be adding these to my Favourite Websites page so ensure you head over there to check out the full list that I've complied so far.

1 ) Classroom 2.0 LIVE
- A website used to host online professional development conversations.
- Teachers can use this website to educate themselves on new and exciting topics as
  well as connect with other people in the educational field.
- The website maintains a great archive and resource list!
- http://live.classroom20.com/

2 ) Student Blogging Challenge
- A website hosting the twice yearly student blogging challenge.
- This challenge can be a great way to encourage blogging in your classroom
  and/or add structure to the blogs you already have established.
- The next challenge begins March 2012 so start getting organized!
- http://studentchallenge.edublogs.org/

3 )  A Principal's Reflections
- A school administrator's blog.
- A great blog to read and see how an administrator interprets different
  aspects of education.
- http://esheninger.blogspot.com/

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

My Thoughts on Educon 2.4

     Well Sunday is finally here and amidst finishing homework, my parents coming into town to visit and attending a wedding fashion show I am happy to say I was able to attend BOTH of the EduCon conversations that I mentioned on Friday! The entire experience was a little overwhelming but very exciting for me.

EduCon 2.4, rise of the introvert, tony baldasaro, risk taking educator
I had decided that I would try to figure out the online streaming access a few hours prior to the sessions I wanted to attend, and good thing! It seemed to take me FOREVER to actually be able to view the online conversation streams (remember, I am not that good with technology). Eventually, with the help of some contacts on Twitter, I figured out that if I updated my flash player and switched from Fire Fox to Internet Explorer I was able to tune into the online stream and watch to my hearts content. The entire setup of EduCon was something completely new to me but I love the idea of being able to be part of a conversation that is happening in a different country. I was able to view the session on my computer and communicate with the other attendees (who were attending both digitally and physically) through Twitter. It was so neat!

     As I looked through the conversations list there was two that I thought would be a good fit for my interests: "The Rise of the Introvert" and "From Thinking to Becoming: Being a Risk Taking Educator".

     I found the RISE OF THE INTROVERT, presented by Tony Baldasaro, to be really insightful. Prior to this conversation I was not familiar with all the traits that may accompany a student who is introverted. An introvert is not someone that is just simply shy, as some people may believe. Being an introvert, or an extrovert, has to do with where that person gets their energy levels from. Where as an extrovert gets their energy from engagement in social situations and sensory stimulation, an introvert gets their energy from periods of self-reflection and memory stimulation. This is why, as teachers, we may notice that our students who are introverted may not participate in groups discussions as often. Again, it is not because they are shy, it is because they need time to think and reflect silently on a topic where as extroverts often think by talking through a situation. So here is our challenge. How do we, as teachers, address the needs of our students in a 50 minute class if they need more time than this to think about what they are learning? It is not a question that can be answered easily. An important point that kept coming up again and again, however, is that there are elements of our educational systems (curriculum, classroom management strategies, assessment strategies, etc) that favour extroverts, elements that favour introverts, and elements that favour neither. As I have touched on before in my posts, teachers need to know their students and be able to address different learning styles and different intelligences. I am going to spend some time reflecting on the needs of students who are introverted and think of some ways that I could incorporate Whole Brain Teaching strategies positively.

     The second conversation I attended was FROM THINKING TO BECOMING: BEING A RISK TAKING EDUCATOR, presented by Philip Cummings, Wendy Eitelijorg and Hadley Ferguson. This session had a lot more group discussions and from listening to all the different experiences from various school divisions in both the United States and Canada I realized that being an educator can be a very big risk in itself. The reason why I say this is because the expectations of us, as educators, are consistently changing depending on who our audience may be. Our administration may expect us to manage our classrooms and conduct our lessons one way but that doesn't mean an administration in another school division or another country would approve of us following those same procedures. The parent's of one student may love our assessment strategies where another parent may think they are too vague. Furthermore, let us not forget about our students, what are their expectations of us? It is definitely a lot to think about, but one of the quotes that I love is that, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." Trying different things is a major component of the learning process and learning from our mistakes is an important skill to model for our students. With this in mind, however, we need to think about who that risk is affecting (whether it be the students, the parents, the administration, etc.) I think that by understanding the risk, and who it is going to affect, we can decide how to most appropriately approach it.

     All in all, I am very impressed with my first EduCon experience. I hope that some of you out there were able to take part as well because I am definitely coming out of this with a better understanding of these topics. I will continue to reflect on both of these and update you when possible :)

Friday, 27 January 2012

EduCon 2.4

     This weekend is the 2012 EduCon conference in Philadelphia! I will admit, before I became an education student I had not heard about this conference before but I am so glad to have been introduced to it through all the great educators on Twitter. They shared it with me and I would like to share it with you! Here is a description about EduCon from their website:
     "Educon is both a conversation and a conference.
     It is an innovation conference where we can come together, both in person and
     virtually, to discuss the future of schools. Every session will be an opportunity to
     discuss and debate ideas - from the very  practical to the big dreams."

EduCon 2.4, rise of the introvert, risk taking educator The great thing about EduCon is that you do not have to physically be there to attend (although it is probably awesome to be there in person). You can be involved in EduCon discussions via Twitter (#educon) and they have even set up live streams where you can view a specific conference online, AWESOME! I have been following the #educon conversation through Twitter on and off during the day and have really enjoyed hearing.... reading the ideas, thoughts and concerns of educators from all over the world.

     As I made my way through the list of conversations, I found some that specifically interested me... (check out the link to see the over 70 conversations that are offered!)

One of the questions/concerns that I hear about Whole Brain Teaching is that, "How will this work if a student is very shy?" "Student's may not be comfortable with a lot of peer interaction, some strategies would make them very uncomfortable." "My child needs time to think and reflect on their thoughts, do these strategies allow enough time for that?" I think that this session would be really helpful for me to have a better understanding of the introverted students that I may encounter and how I can best address their needs.
     The Rise of the Introvert

      Tony Baldasaro

      Session Three
      Traditional school systems do not always support the needs of introverts.
      This session will begin to address the needs of introverts in today's classrooms.

Although I have only been involved in the educational field for a short time, and been interested in Whole Brain Teaching for an even shorter time, I have already discovered that I have been drawn to something that does not necessarily conform to the mainstream and traditional way of doing things. Especially in Manitoba, I have connected with very few people who have heard of or are using elements of this classroom management strategy. In that sense, I do consider exploring this strategy to be a bit of a "risk" because I am doing something that not many other educators are. I think that this session would be really helpful in educating me about taking risks in this profession, what classifies as a professional risk, how they can affect my students, and how best to reflect on my risk-taking process.
      From Thinking to Becoming: Being a Risk-Taking Educator

      Philip Cummings, Wendy Eiteljorg, Hadley Ferguson

      Session Four
      Risk-taking for educators can feel just that, risky. What pushes us as
      educators and what holds us back? Through visible thinking strategies,
      we will spark dialogue about classroom risk-taking, encourage teacher
      reflection, and share ways to break out of our comfort zones.

I will probably be writing another post on Sunday about what I learn this weekend so stay tuned! What conversations are you going to check out?

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday! Class-Yes

    One week has come and gone and I'm excited to be writing my second Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday post! I hope that this focus on a specific WBT strategy is helpful to those of you who are wishing to learn more about how a certain strategy may work and what my personal experience with it has been. Last week I highlighted "Teach-Ok", this week I would like to introduce you to the WBT strategy of "Class-Yes". (I realize that my introduction of these strategies are not in any specific order).

     "Class-Yes" is a classroom management strategy that allows for us, as the teachers, to gain our students attention quickly and efficiently. We all know that it happens, we have asked for our classes' attention only to have two, three, or maybe more students continue talking. Maybe they didn't hear us? I will admit, my voice gets higher as opposed to louder when I attempt to raise my voice so I avoid raising my voice whenever possible! Maybe they are ignoring us? This can sometimes be the case as well. There are definitely times when student's are going to want to finish a conversation about a favourite activity rather than listen to a lesson. Whatever the reason, if we are not able to gain our classes' attention that will be only the beginning of our classroom management concerns.

whole brain teaching strategies, get your class's attention, classroom managementThe strategy of "Class-Yes" is incredibly simple. So simple, in fact, that I can feel foolish even explaining it. Since they entered the school system, our students are taught that certain cues given by the teacher are asking for a desired behaviour. Maybe it was that if the teacher raised their hand, the students knew that they too must raise their hand and stop talking so they could hear instructions. Maybe it was that is the teacher started counting down from 3, the students knew that they must be quiet by the time the teacher reached the number 1 so that they could hear instructions. Or perhaps, the teacher would yell out "Eh-oh" and the students would respond in turn and then await instructions. Makes sense right? It is not only teachers that use these techniques, I have seen camp councilors and athletic coaches use similar techniques to gain the attention of a crowd. The following describes the "Class-Yes" version of these strategies as it is stated by Jeff Battle on the Whole Brain Teaching website.

To get my classes’ attention I simply say ‘Class!’ and then they reply ‘Yes!’. Next is the catch, the hook that makes this fun, and gets them invested in it in a way that has them looking at me and grinning rather than continuing their conversations.

When I say ‘Class!’ and they say ‘Yes!’ they have to say it the way I said it. If I say ‘Classity-class-class!’ they have to say ‘Yessity-yes-yes!’. If I say it loudly, they have to respond loudly. If I whisper, they respond in a whisper. They have to match my tone and intensity.

     In my experience, this was the easiest strategy to incorporate into my classroom because most teachers already use some variation of this idea anyways! As I was in Grade 10, I did not modify this strategy much in regards to what I actually say (Classity-class-class) because of their age level but I did modify the tone of my voice and the pitch. Before this, I would usually attempt to get attention by saying some variation of, "Ok, Grade 10's..." but, as mentioned, I would usually have some students who would not hear me or may have been ignoring me. The great thing about this strategy is that even if some students can't hear me personally, they definitely hear the other student's who are responding, "yes"! This is something that I will definitely be using during my upcoming student teaching practicum in Grade 5 and who knows, maybe I will incorporate some the silliness that Jeff suggests.

Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to see Jeff Battle's instructions in context or check out Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see this strategy in action.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

WBT & Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction, whole brain teaching, manitoba curriculum
Dr. Carol Tomlinson

Today in class we viewed a video on Differentiated Instruction by Carol Tomlinson, (view her website here). We talk about Differentiated Instruction in every single one of our education classes. If you are not familiar with this topic, it centers on the idea that every classroom is going to have students that represent a broad spectrum of learners and, as teachers, we must plan for these differences. We need to keep in mind that our students are going to be coming into our classrooms with different ability levels, different learning styles, different backgrounds, etc and we need to tailor our classroom to best accommodate all of our students.

In the video, one of the teachers who were featured always had three different types of assignments/tests/projects that he provided for his students. There was the "straight-ahead" option (the easiest level), the "uphill" option (intermediate level) and the "mountainous" option (the most challenging level). The names for the levels were chosen with consideration as they are all meant to imply a step-forward in the learning process. Through conferencing and open communication, the students knew exactly what level they should be working at and they would pick the appropriate assignment. Although each level was tailored to a different ability level, they all focused on the same curricular outcomes which still allowed for group discussion within the classroom. It worked wonderfully!

This got me thinking about if some of the WBT strategies could fit into a classroom that is practicing Differentiated Instruction. In our textbook "Success for all Learners: A Handbook on Differentiating Instruction", put out by Manitoba Education and Training,  a handy chart is provided that overviews what "A Continuum Towards Differentiated Instruction" looks like. The following will summarize areas of the chart and include my opinions about how WBT strategies* may fit into this model.

Culture & Climate
Traditionally, "learning is associated with silence".
Through Differentiated Instruction, "learning is associated with on-task student activities".
- Well we all know that WBT is definitely anything but silent! In my classrooms
  I encourage participation in WBT strategies such as "Teach-Ok" (see last
  Wednesday's post) which is far from silent but still an on-task student activity.
  I think that by encouraging student's to share their information and discuss
  topics together they will be more comfortable in your classroom which leads
  to the development of a positive learning environment.

Ways of Learning & Demonstrating Learning
Traditionally, "teachers present new information through lectures and reading".
Through Differentiated Instruction, "teachers use a variety of instructional modes including music, demonstrations and kinesthetic activities".
- The possibilities with this one are endless! As far as I am concerned, it is a given that
  I will have some sort of visual to go along with my lessons but after that, I believe that
  a teacher's only major restriction is their creativity level.What really stood out for me
  with this one was the demonstrations and kinesthetic activities. Many WBT strategies
  incorporate visuals referred to as "Power Pix" that a teacher uses kinesthetic
  gestures and demonstrations to explain so I think that this is a great match.

Instructional Methods
Traditionally, "students are passive".
Through Differentiated instruction, "students are active".
- I think WBT allows for students to be incredibly active! In "Teach-Ok" students are
  continually engaged and participating in the lesson. It also allows for them to develop
  an awareness of their meta-cognition process because by having to "teach" material
  to their neighbour, they develop an awareness of how much of the material they
  understand. Teachers can then use this awareness when holding teacher-student
  conferences to help understand the student's individual style of learning.

Traditionally, "assessment happens at the end of a unit or course".
Through Differentiated Instruction, "assessment is ongoing".
- Yay for formative assessment! I think that this is something that teachers can do
   in many different ways. Remember, your only restriction is creativity. When using
   "Teach-Ok" teachers circulate around the room as their students work as teams
   to review material. This is a perfect opportunity to assess if your students have
   understood the lesson or not. As this assessment occurs, teachers can then plan
   accordingly to either spend more time on the topic or move onto something a
   bit more challenging.

Classroom Configuration
Traditionally, "desks are arranged in rows facing the teacher".
Through Differentiated Instruction, "desks or tables are rearranged as needed to facilitate working groups and student interaction".
- I am a HUGE fan of moving around desks and tables (if my cooperating teacher
  is comfortable with it). During my last student teaching placement I moved around
  the desks on a regular basis depending on what type of activity we were doing.
  WBT incorporates a lot of group work amongst students and encourages
  discussions with peers so I would move around the desks into partner groupings
  or larger groups (up to 4 or 5) depending on the activity.

Through this summary, I am comfortable saying that I will be able to use Differentiated Instruction in my classroom and still be able to incorporate elements of the WBT strategies. In my eyes, they almost seemed to naturally go together anyways!

* I tried to focus on the strategy of "Teach-Ok" as it was covered in my post from last Wednesday.
(1996). Success for all learners: A handbook on differentiating instruction (1.12). Manitoba: Manitoba Education & Training.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Resources to Start Off Your Week!

Who doesn't love expanding their list of educational resources?? I know that as soon as I see a list of resources online my mind immediately starts turning on how I can incorporate and use these new and exciting ideas! Each Monday I will post a list of Resources to Start Off Your Week with at least two new additions that I will add to my favourite websites page. (These may be related to Whole Brain Teaching or just general educational resources.)

1 ) Inclusion Educator Checklist
- A great checklist that allows for teachers to gauge their level of inclusion in their
- No matter where you fall on the checklist, this is a great resource to help teachers
  maintain inclusion in their classrooms.
- Provided by TeachHub
- http://www.teachhub.com/inclusion-educator-checklist

2 ) Canada's First Peoples
- An interactive website about Canadian history.
- Teachers can use this to obtain sources for your classroom or use it with your
- Yay for Canadian material!
- http://firstpeoplesofcanada.com/index.html

3 ) 100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers
- A comprehensive list of educational videos on YouTube.
- Includes videos on history, science, language, arts, inspiration, classroom
  management, how-to's, technology and more!
- Provided by Classroom 2.0
- http://www.classroom20.com/profiles/blogs/649749:BlogPost:177332

4 ) EdGalexy
- A lesson plan search engine that will search verified lesson plan websites that DO
  NOT charge for their materials!
- A great resource to search new materials to add to your classroom.
- http://www.edgalaxy.com/lesson-plan-search-engine/

5 ) Teacher Discounts List
- A comprehensive list of businesses that offer discounts for teachers and people in
  the educational field.
* Provides two links to free printables and labels before the list starts. Make sure you
  scroll down
- Provided by the Frugal Girls
- http://thefrugalgirls.com/teacher-discounts

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

And the Results Are In!

     I haven't posted in a few days as I was at a resort and spa for the weekend celebrating my fiance's birthday with my in-laws-to-be! It was a wonderful holiday but I'm now back to the world of laundry, homework and a staggering 30+ emails to catch up with.

like, whole brain teaching
I am happy to report that our first Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday was a fabulous success with several hundred people checking out the post! The WBT website has so many amazing strategies and resources that I will be able to highlight different ones on Wednesdays for quite some time. Thank you to everyone that checked out the posts and, as always, I look forward to your opinions and stories on these strategies.

  UPDATE! I have received an email back from my cooperating teacher and it is good news! As some of you remember, I was really nervous about what my cooperating teacher's opinion on WBT would be. I was nervous that maybe he would not want me using different classroom management strategies in his classroom while I was a guest there. My fears, however, were all for not as he responded back that he was excited about having this new strategy in his classroom, yay! He was very supportive and encouraging and I hope that we are both able to learn a lot during my time in his class.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday! Teach-Ok

     Today is our first Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday, a special post dedicated to highlighting a specific WBT strategy in more detail than I do during some of my regular posts where I discuss my education classes as well. To kick it off our first WBT-W I would like to start with "Teach-Ok".

whole brain teaching, engaging your students, bored students
"Teach-Ok" is a formative assessment tool that allows for you, as the teacher, to gauge student's comprehension on the topics you're teaching. This strategy, however, is not your average worksheet that bores your students, requires hours of marking and kills trees!

Studies have shown that when the primary cortices of the brain are engaged simultaneously, information is more easily stored in long-term memory. This strategy engages your students visually, verbally, mentally and physically! In addition, it is fun for both the students and the teacher, which engages the emotional system of the brain as well.

     Who amongst us can honestly say that they haven't had students that look like the picture above? We know that the longer we lecture in front of a class, the more students we lose to boredom. The "Teach-Ok" strategy shortens the time that you, as the teacher, spend lecturing at one time. It does not shorten how MUCH content you cover, it just changes how you DELIVER the content. The following describes the "Teach-Ok" content as it is stated by Jeff Battle on the Whole Brain Teaching website.

whole brain teaching, engaging students, fun classrooms
Teach-OK works like this: Divide your class into teams of two. One student is a One, the other member of the team is a Two.You want students to do a large amount of the teaching. Present a small amount of information, complete with gestures. (I'll discuss gestures in more detail later on) When you finish, look at the class and clap two times, say “Teach!” Your students clap twice and respond “OK!”  Look at our Power Teachers videos for examples of this approach.

Teach your students to copy your gestures (kinesthetic) and mimic the emotion in your tone of voice (limbic).  As your students teach each other, move around the room listening to what they are saying.  This is an excellent opportunity to monitor student comprehension.  Then, call them back to attention with the Class-Yes!  If you are not convinced your students have understood your lesson, repeat it.  Otherwise, go on to the next small group of points.

     Essentially, many teachers do use strategies similar to this idea. Just think of how many times you have your students discuss a topic with their partner or table group before you go on to a new idea. This strategy follows this basic idea but with a more structured and purposeful layout. Remember, you want to ensure that you are presenting information in shorter chunks and encouraging visual, verbal, mental and physical engagement!

     I used this strategy in my last student teaching placement and the students LOVED it. It was incredibly engaging and I didn't have any students zoning out because they don't have an opportunity to! One thing that I do recommend is that you chose your pairings with careful consideration to your students personalities to ensure that students will be able to concentrate on the co-teaching component (sometimes certain students can just not teach effectively to one another), but with some management it works great.
I was able to have full engagement from 30 grade 10 students, with a large distribution of abilities, at 10 in the morning!

Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to see Jeff Battle's instructions in context or check out Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see this strategy in action

Thanks for checking out our first Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

New Additions!

    The weekend has come and gone and, for the most part, I spent my time working through the Grade 6 social studies curriculum for my social studies method course. I did, however, make time to add some new things to the site!
Picture, Blog button     First, after a bit of work, I figured out how to make my very own "button" for my blog. I have a sample picture here on the left (I think it looks pretty cute!) It should appear on the right-hand column. As I network with more people, I am slowly adding other buttons to this blog as well, so I hope you check those out too because there are some pretty great education blogs out there!

    Second, I created a new page for this site that highlights some of the best websites I have found that are related to teaching. Some of them are networking sites, some of them are curriculum-based and some of them are just cool! I have yet to categorize them into specific subject-areas but I hope to add to this page quite regularly, so as the number of websites grows I will categorize them so its easier to navigate. If you know of any websites that I should check out and add to the list let me know!

    Hope you enjoy these new additions to start off the week :)

Friday, 13 January 2012

Hello..... Is Anyone There?

     Well its official, I can't resist Google and have moved my blog over to Blogger as opposed to Weebly. Now don't get me wrong, I liked Weebly. It was very "mickey mouse" and for someone that is not very tech-savvy it worked perfectly for me. I decided, however, that with Blogger I would be able to reach more people and make this blog even better for you!

whole brain teaching in canada
One thing that I've mentioned before is that since I've discovered whole brain teaching I have found the WBT community incredibly supportive. I've been fortunate enough to be able to network with a lot of great educators through their classroom blogs and the WBT forum.

The thing that has been lacking, however, is a strong Canadian presence! I was able to get in touch with a WBT Intern from British Columbia but that is it. I know that this strategy originated in the United States so I knew not to expect as high of numbers in Canada, but I thought I would hear from a few more people that just one.

     When I was searching for classroom management videos, WBT showed up on the first page of YouTube. Other people must be finding these videos the way I did, right? So why have I not found a WBT community in Canada? It makes me wonder what is it about whole brain teaching that attracts or repels educators? Obviously, you know that I am a fan of this strategy. My reasons for this are discussed in my past posts, my "About Miss L" page and in future posts.

     So for right now, I am wondering what you think the pros/cons are of whole brain teaching as a classroom management strategy. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Check out these videos if you haven't already!

You Can Start Using WBT by Monday!

Friday is finally here and Friday the 13th at that. I won't sugarcoat it, we know that Fridays can sometimes come with some management concerns. Your students are ready for the weekend and that means that it can be easier for them to get off-task and sometimes this can snowball into even larger issues. When I was student teaching, Fridays also meant assemblies, sports tournaments, hockey games, etc and sometimes it could be so challenging to keep everyone on task and focused in the classroom!

whole brain teaching, quick start guide, begin whole brain teaching
With this in mind, I want to share with you a great new resource from the Whole Brain Teaching team, the "WBT QuickStart" FREE E-BOOK download. This e-book covers the basics of whole brain teaching quickly and easily! It includes information on the whole brain teaching strategies "Class-Yes", "Teach-Ok", and the "Scoreboard", as well as additional resources and tips. I used all of these strategies (and more) in my classroom and they worked so well. Your students are constantly engaged, which means fewer opportunities to get off-task which means they are learning more and you are not as stressed. :)

    To access the "WBT QuickStart", and many other e-books, visit the Whole Brain Teaching website and click on Free Ebooks on the menu at the top of the screen. You may be asked to sign-up (I can't remember, I've been signed up for a while) but it is definitely worth it! You will find the "QuickStart Guide" as the second e-book on the list.
    I challenge you to download this resource and try to implement even just one of the strategies into your classroom this upcoming Monday. Good luck!

* A big thanks to everyone on the WBT team for putting out these free resources for teachers, you guys rock!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Welcome to Twitter!

     So if this blog wasn't exciting enough, I have now joined the Twitter world as well (@MissLwbt)! It is a little overwhelming but I am slowly making my way through it and figuring it all out. From what I understand, it can take up to two days for a new account to appear in the Twitter search engine but I am hoping that by this weekend everything will be up and running smoothly.

connected educator, twitter, educational value

     I have already began to "follow" some amazing people and groups. I can definitely see how Twitter can be used in the educational field (don't you love the graphic above from watblog.com?) I am really excited about expanding my social network and meeting new people in the educational community. There are so many people and organizations out there that have such great ideas and information to share, thank you all!
    What are some of your favourite people and groups to "follow"? One of my first people to follow was, of course, Chris Biffle!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Welcome to Grade.... 5??

   Today I heard back from my cooperating teacher who will be having me in his classroom this upcoming March for eight weeks (I had sent him an email introducing myself last week.) He seemed very enthusiastic and supportive, from what I could tell from his email!

The big surprise to me, however, was that he taught Grade 5! As some of you know, I am in the senior years stream and my last student teaching placement was with Grades 10, 11, and 12. I'll admit, at the start I was pretty apprehensive. My mind was racing: "Can they all read?", "Can they all write?", "I can remember how my classes were set up when I was in high school but I remember nothing from elementary!", etc.
    After a few deep breathes, however, I regained my composure and really began thinking about it. I think Grade 5 will be awesome! In the professional aspect, a placement outside of my focus will give me more experience and could be seen as a positive thing to future employers. I will definitely see it as a positive experience! On a personal side, I tend to think that in Grade 5 students may tend to "enjoy" school more than a Grade 12 student who is ready to start university/college/work or any number of other things. Is this a correct assumption or a generalization?

    Another BIG positive is that I may be able to use whole brain teaching with them! (I haven't talked to my cooperating teacher about it yet). I hear again and again in the WBT community about how much early years students love WBT (although my Grade 10's loved it just as much!) I am excited to see the difference between the Grade 10's that I used WBT with in the fall and the Grade 5's. I am thinking that it may be easier to incorporate with younger years because you don't have to spend as much time getting them to "buy into" the idea as you do with senior years. But again, this could be a generalization.
    All in all, I think that it will be a great learning opportunity and I can't wait to start! :)

Monday, 9 January 2012

10-Finger Woo & Culture of Respect

      Well week two of semester two is now under way and what I've been hearing again and again is how important it is for teachers to establish and maintain a culture of respect in their classrooms. When I'm applying for a job in the spring of 2013 I will probably be asked how I plan to establish a culture of respect in my classroom and what will that look like? Good thing I'll have WBT in my back pocket!

As we talk more and more about it I realize how great the WBT system can be when it comes to establishing your classroom culture. Right off the start, your classroom rules are great for establishing a clear set of guidelines about what is expected in your classroom. Students will know what your classroom’s basic procedures are, how they should appropriately interact with their fellow students and how they should interact with you. I think that by having clear expectations right from the start, and sticking to them, your students are more likely to shape their behaviours around these guidelines (to an extent!)

    Another component of WBT which I think really helps solidify a culture of respect is the “10-Finger Woo” and “It’s Cool”. I think that both of these are great practices that assist in meeting a student’s needs in regards to their sense of belonging within the classroom/school and their self-esteem. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these, when a student does something well (answers a question in class, lines up quickly, turns in homework, etc) you and the other students wiggle your fingers at the students and say, “woo!” (You can invent variations of this idea to suit your classroom). Your student is left feeling proud of themselves and a sense of community is strengthened by having a public acknowledgement of a student’s success. On the flip side of this, when a student is unable to answer a question or answers incorrectly you and the other students say, “It’s Cool!” Your student is not embarrassed and it allows for a classroom where learning is the focus as opposed to just having the right answers (which students can get fixated on). To read more about these, check out the hyperlinks above which will take you right to the Whole Brain Teaching website!

    I think that when the time comes for a future employer to ask me about how I will establish a culture of respect in my classroom I know that I will be glad that I have WBT to help provide a good foundation towards answering this question!
    I'll leave you with a great video from Chris Biffle that shows him using both the "10-Finger Woo" and "It's Cool" with one of his college classes.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Cooperating Teacher = Pro-WBT?

So my second student teaching placement begins in approximately two months and counting, yay! As you know, near the end of my first student teaching placement I discovered WBT and was so amazed. It is something that I want to continue developing and using in the future. Not only does it help manage your classroom but it engages your students mentally, visually, verbally, physically and it is fun! What could be better than that?
    It is time for me to reach out and send an email to my cooperating teacher who will have me in his classroom for eight weeks and will serve as both a supervisor and a mentor during that time. The email will just be a very simple introduction so I'm hoping that we can set up a time for me to visit the school and meet him in person this month. Compared to my first student teaching placement I feel a lot more confident and less nervous since I've been through it once already. I realize, however, that each classroom can be sooo different so I am making sure I go into it with a clear slate.
    One thing that keeps popping up in the back of my mind is my conversation I had with one of my professors earlier this week. I'm really hoping that my cooperating teacher will be open to the idea of me using WBT during my placement. My email to him is ready to send off so fingers crossed!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

WBT & Inclusive Classrooms

Well day two of semester two is officially here and gone and one of the classes that I have been most looking forward to is "Inclusive Education & Exceptionalities". For the past three summers I have worked as a Child Development Worker with the Manitoba government and have loved every moment of it! So I am really hoping that I can use this class to solidify my prior knowledge, learn new information and learn how to best address exceptionalities in my future classrooms.

One of our major assignments includes a research project on a specific exceptionality; my topic being the Autism Spectrum. Through my summer job I have worked with several children who were on various places on the Autism Spectrum so I am excited to learn even more information on the topic.
    With this project in mind I started thinking about how a student on the Autism Spectrum would engage in a WBT classroom. Although every child is an individual, from what I know and have experienced with the children in my summer program, I could see WBT being a difficulty for students on the Autism Spectrum. I am specifically thinking about the "Class-Teach" component that requires students to share information and teach their peers. Do you think that this could be a difficulty for some students? On the other hand, this could provide the perfect opportunity for students to practice social skills with their peers!
    I know that there are so many different components to this topic and its not easily answered but what are your thoughts? If you are a teacher, have you had any students with exceptionalities in your WBT classrooms? What were the challenges/opportunities? If you are a parent of a child with an exceptionality, how do you think your son/daughter would react to a WBT classroom?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

My Intro to the Blogging World! Is WBT an Interruption?

After inspiration from my ICT professor last term I have decided to join the blogging world! I will admit that I am not the most tech-savvy person, but its a start! There are a few reasons why I decided to start this blog...
1 ) After being in the Faculty of Education for only one semester I've learned and appreciated the importance of sharing with our colleagues! There are many of you out there that have helped me so much by posting your ideas online and for that I say, thank you! I hope that this blog will not only help me by allowing me to reflect and get feedback, but that it will help others as well.
2 ) After discovering Whole Brain Teaching during my student teaching placement in October/November I am addicted! See more about this in my "About Miss L" page. Since this discovery I have found the WBT community incredibly supportive and welcoming. The stories shared by other Whole Brain Teachers on forums and other blogs have assisted me so much; I couldn't help but want to be a part of this!

Ok so now you know why I have chosen to start this blog, so here is my first question: is WBT seen as an interruption to student's daily schedule if they are only exposed to it in one class?
    We just started our second semester today and I shared the idea of WBT with one of my professors. I found his reaction to be incredibly disappointing (but I must admit, I am very enthusiastic about the subject so I couldn't expect him to be quite as excited as I am!) He pointed out that, as a student teacher, I am a guest in my cooperating teacher's classroom and to incorporate a strategy as radical as WBT would be an interruption to the classroom environment and would leave my cooperating teacher to "pick up the pieces" once I left. I completely agree that I am a guest in the classroom and would never attempt to overstep my boundaries as a student teacher but I don't know if I necessarily agree with him.
    My cooperating teacher during my first student teaching placement had no problem with me incorporating WBT in his classroom. I will tell you that it was DEFINITELY not his style but he encouraged me to try it out and to go with it if it fit my style. I loved it and the student's loved it! They liked the change of style and understood that my teaching style was different than that of my cooperating teacher.
    So what I am wondering is:
1 ) If you had a student teacher in your classroom, would you be ok with them experimenting with different classroom management strategies?
2 ) If you use WBT and your colleagues don't, do they view your use of WBT as an interruption to the student's schedule?