Wednesday, August 15, 2012


This is a creative thinking, problem solving, team challenge that runs across Queensland. I am The Regional Director for The Sunshine Coast. We have 322 students involved in preparing for the challenge. They are given six weeks to solve a challenge and 10 minutes to present their solution to a panel of judges. The Challenge can be Language Literature, Social Sciences or Science Engineering Challenge. Students also tackle a spontaneous challenge that is seen only at the event and they get ten minutes to solve it.

I am very busy working on this, WBT and the lovely children in my class and have not been paying much attention to my blog or certification.

The Challenge finishes on August 25th.

I will be back on board with all the  action from wonderful one after that.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Student Engagement and The Red, Green Writing System

The Red, Green Writing System is one aspect of the Whole Brain Teaching focus on students making progress in their writing skills.  The system uses timed writing sessions that have a clear writing skill focus. One red dot is placed above a poor example of the skill. A green dot is placed above a good example of that skill. Students know exactly what to stop doing, and what to keep doing.

This has been our fourth week of using the Red, Green Writing System. I am amazed by the difference that ten minutes of free writing with a clear focus on particular skills, can make. When I told the children it was red green writing time, they cheered. One boy proudly announced he knew what he was going to write about.  Weekly diary recount writing about our weekend adventures had never recieved that response. The fact that students are given a choice on the topic has increased motivation.  They know what the focus is and they get immediate feedback has led to writing progress with increased student engagement.

Rewarding students with stars for improvement on the Super Improvers Wall has added to the excitement now associated with Red, Green Writing. Students no longer write similar things each Monday. Critical thinking is used as students ask and answer their own questions each week. What topic shall I choose? How shall I write it? What text type shall I use? What punctuation do I need? Am I using my writing lines? Am I forming my letters neatly and correctly?  The children are really thinking about their writing now.

In conclusiong the Red, Green Writing System has greatly changed my approach to Monday writing time. It has also changed student attitudes to writing and progress in writing skills. I am looking forward to great things happening with the children as they grow a love of writing.

Whole Brain Teaching and Australia Zoo

On Wednesday the 25th of July our Prep, Year One and Year Two class went to Australia Zoo. Before we headed up to catch the bus, we made time to review the Power Pix for prediction.  We used mirror words and actions to recall the question and answer. Students then responded to Teach ok and told their knee buddies what they thought they would see. Critical thinking was happening right at the start of the day. Students were then given the opportunity to draw what they thought they would see. Making decisions to participate, enjoying what they were doing, looking, listening, talking and moving, all in the first 40 minutes of the day.

We had a spectacular day out. The students and I arrived at school the next day tired, but ready for more learning. Again, we reviewed the Power Pix for prediction. The use of mirror words, actions and teach okay all helped focus the students back to our lesson from the previous day. Students went back to their desks to check their predictions and mark yes next to something they did see and no next to something they did not see. A very practical example of the use of prediction.

Next on our daily plan was writing time. We used a poster on Recounts to help us focus for mirror words and actions, question and answer. What is a recount? The strategy of teach oaky was then used to teach their knee buddy what a recount was. We then used our airboard braintoy to help us review the three parts of a recount. After more use of teach okay to discuss the sequence of events, it was time to write. The children worked well getting their ideas on paper and then conference their writing.

At the end of the day we used cotton buds to help us paint something we saw at the Zoo. In conclusion the students used critical thinking throught the day as they made decisions about their work and how to communicate their understanding of our Australia Zoo excursion. Expressing their opinions about their experiences revealed some interesting facts. It is so simple and effective to use Whole Brain Teaching techniques to enhance student engagement and learning outcomes.