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WBT Scoreboard in the Middle School August 31, 2011

Filed under: Scoreboard — wholebrainteacher @ 7:05 pm

I’ve noticed a few things that have surprised me, so I thought I’d share…

I’m already using the scoreboard very differently depending on which class I have in the room.  I have one large, potentially chatty/noisy class.  For them, most points earned/lost on the scoreboard are tied to noise level and quick direction following, because that’s where they need to improve.  In fact, today at the beginning of the period I let them know that our scoreboard focus would be on rules 1 and 2.

In another class, I have a quiet group that has not been very enthusiastic.  During teach/okay times, I even had 2 or 3 pairs who weren’t really talking to each other.  They seemed to not feel comfortable with it.  With this class, I give/deduct scoreboard points for high vs. low energy, using gestures, etc.  I had initially wondered if WBT was going to work for this class, but yesterday and today they have come out of their shells and I’m getting a lot more enthusiasm out of them.  WBT really makes the classroom lively, and this class has finally caught on to that!  Success.

P.S.  I will post about how I’m using the genius ladder for math eventually, but for now I just have to say that I created a giant one at the front of the room and have said nothing about it.  The letters of “Genius” on the top rung sparkle with gold glitter.  It’s driving the kids crazy that I won’t tell them what it’s for!  I have kids in every period who want to know when we’ll start using it.  (See the Whole Brain Teaching “WBT Model Classroom” ebook to find out more about the genius ladder.  It’s a FANTASTIC and FUN writing/language arts strategy that I am adapting for my math classroom).

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3 Days Down, Excited for 177 More August 26, 2011

Filed under: Beginning of the Year — wholebrainteacher @ 9:52 pm

The night before Day 1

I really wasn’t sure this was going to work.  I started to doubt that my personality would mesh with WBT.  So, I pretty much memorized the first minutes script laid out by fictitious teacher “Mrs. Maestra” in the WBT  “Teaching Teenagers” manual.  I stood in front of the mirror and rehearsed the introduction of the scoreboard, rules, etc.  I went to bed nervous, but excited about “committing” to WBT.  If I was going to do it, I had to be all in.

Day 1

  • Class #1: 7th Grade Advanced Math (25 students): I had this group last year.  They came in excited to see me and as if they knew what to expect.  I went through my introduction, mentioning that class would be much different this year.  They totally bought in.  They all know each other well, so they got right into TEACH/OKAY with enthusiasm.
  • Class#2: 7th Grade Math (30 students): I’ve never taught a class this big before, so that was my main concern.   They were a bit loud as they came bounding in.  But then, the curtain rose and my performance began.  They were all over it.  This class has great personality, and they worked hard to reduce their HW!
  • Class #3: 7th Grade Math (24 students): In previous years, my classes after lunch have always been rowdy compared to the morning, so it caught me off guard when this class was very quiet.  They didn’t pick up up on the routines as well, but seemed to like it.  The old me would have been so excited about a quiet and compliant class, but now I’m hoping to liven these guys up a bit.  I have a handful of partners who aren’t really into TEACH/OKAY and don’t seem to be talking to each other.  I might move some seats around to see if I can get some better match-ups.

Thoughts on the week

I was the only math teacher to give HW on the first day.  Also,  I worked the scoreboard so that I was ahead by 2, meaning they had 2 extra homework problems — just like Mrs. Maestra =).  I would think this would turn the kids off, but it didn’t seem to at all.

On day 2, when I truly started teaching, I found myself slipping back into my old teaching style and forgetting about the scoreboard.  I also didn’t plan out exactly when I’d use TEACH/OKAY, and then I barely used it.  I knew I had to be more intentional so it will become habit.

Today (day 3) in the advanced class, I had students working out problems in partners after my instruction.  I caught a boy arguing with his partner about an answer by using the gestures he learned for the definition of absolute value.  It was hilarious.  Then I gave the whole class a point because I saw gestures being used during partner work.

Looking ahead

I need to use the scoreboard to tighten up on routines next week.  I also haven’t rehearsed the rules all that much, so I think we’ll do that on Monday as a review after the weekend.  I’m thinking I’ll have them do it in funny voices since rule rehearsal has seemed to drag a bit.

 

Getting Ready August 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — wholebrainteacher @ 11:42 pm

Somewhere around April of last school year, I stumbled upon WBT videos.  I had punched in “brain based learning” into the Google search bar, because I have a lot of interest in how the brain works during learning.  I clicked on a whole brain teaching link and was soon watching video after video.  The first was of a 6th grade math teacher introducing the rules of order of operations.  Coincidentally, I was also teaching 6th grade math.  I was a little taken a back by the choral responses at first… didn’t know if I liked that.  But I immediately loved how this math classroom was buzzing with discussion over each step of PEMDAS.  She taught one step at a time, using creative gestures, and then shouted the magic word: “TEACH!”  And in amazing unison, students responded, “OKAY!”  Then the craziest thing happened.  They enthusiastically began throwing their arms into the gestures and teaching one another.  It was loud!  But it was productive!

At the time, I had recently noticed so many of my students — the usually enthusiastic ones even — had gone into this sort of March funk.  They had slowly begun to drop off the effort wagon.  Watching (and drooling over) the symphony of student involvement in the video, I knew this WBT stuff was golden.  These kids were having a blast in math class — gasp!

So over the last 6 or 7 weeks of summer, I have prepared to try WBT in my classroom this year.  I’ll be moving up to 7th grade math, so I’ll see many familiar faces from last year.  It’ll be fun to see their faces when they realize class will not be anything like it was last year!  Also, I love to have fun in the classroom.  I like how WBT gives me some specific places to channel my humor while still running a “tight ship.”