Wednesday, August 7, 2013

WBT Australia

This term has been very significant for the development of Whole Brain Teaching in Australia. Teachers across Australia have been discovering WBT and reaching out to other teachers, as we learn more about this amazing education revolution.
Caloundra Christian College started the term with a one hour session for all teachers about Whole Brain Teaching and the BIG 7. The BIG 7 includes the essential elements of a WBT classroom/School.
The teachers experienced whole brain learning as they explored each element.
T= Class/yes, the attention getter used often throughout a day.
H=The Five Rules, help focus students so they are better able to participate in learning.
E=Teach/o.k., provides the opportunity for every child to participate in every lesson.
B=Mirror, provides opportunity for perfect rehearsal from micro teaching of concepts and skills.
I=Scoreboard, keeps track of behaviour throughout a day.
G=Hands and Eyes, is the main point attention getter.
7= Switch, gives students the opportunity to experience turn taking as they learn speaking and listening skills.
From the day that school started, teachers across the College have been implementing elements of WBT in their classrooms with great success. I am thrilled to hear the good reports from students, parents and teachers.
Today made it all even more exciting as it was the launch day for WBT Australia. I am keen to make contact with other educators throughout Australia so we can share our experiences, like the one above, and encourage one and other on this journey of change.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching Convention Rocks!

I have just had the most amazing experience of my life and met the most inspiring people. One thing we were taught was the five paragraph essay structure used by all grades, including Kindergarten. I have used this structure to explain some aspects of my trip.
My trip to the National Whole Brain Teaching Convention was challenging, enlightening, and exhilarating. It was challenging because I had never travelled that far without someone I knew. The information shared was enlightening because of the content, and the fact it was presented in such an amazing way. My time was exhilarating because everyday was a feast of new experiences.
It was challenging because I had never travelled that far without someone I knew. Meeting new people all the time really pushed me to extend myself by introducing myself to others and not being a wall flower. Organising things on the run also challenged me, especially the final days after my mentor left.
The information shared was enlightening because of the content, and the fact it was presented in such an amazing way. It was not a convention about Whole Brain Teaching, it was Whole Brain Teaching from beginning to end, everyday. Over 1,000 people in a room saying 'class, yes' and using 'mirror words' was something to see, hear, and do.
My time there was exhilarating because everyday was a feast of new experiences. I ate alligator, catfish and fried pickles. Two squirrels added extra value to my visit to Louisiana College. My eyes were overloaded with other new sights including, the fire hydrants, the houses, and the big cars.
My trip to the National Whole Brain Teaching Convention was challenging, enlightening, and exhilarating. I loved every minute of my time and would go again in a heartbeat. Whole Brain Teaching Rocks!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching and America

In five days I will be on my way to join 1,200 other teachers from across America and Canada for a three day conference on Whole Brain Teaching.

Read, read, read!
The more you read, the more you know.
The more you know, the more you grow.
So read, read, read!-Author unknown

I have been reading, learning and growing. I have watched videos and we have even made our own class video for others to view. We are a Whole Brain Class.  The other day one of the girls taught the rest of the class all about the brain, in a casual teachable moment. This was not part of the lesson plan for the day, she just wanted to share her knowledge with us all. I did not have to say a word, she knew all the parts of the brain and their function. Amazing for grade one!

But still there is this burning desire to learn more and experience Whole Brain Teaching for myself. This just may be the craziest decision I have ever made but I just know it is the right time to go. The conference is held each year, and each year I have been tempted to go, but this year was different. Whole Brain Teaching has helped restore my enthusiasm and passion for teaching. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. The results I see in my class everyday convince me that Whole Brain Teaching is the way to go in education, for both boys and girls.

Sometimes I slip back into lecture / listen mode and it does not work. I see the childrens eyes glaze over. I switch back to Whole Brain Teaching and they are instantly engaged in the lesson again.

Whole Brain Teaching talks of teacher heaven. I see a slice of teacher heaven each and everyday when I am in my classroom with my wonderful children, having fun learning together. I look forward to bringing back more enthusiasm, and more passion, and more knowledge, to share about Whole Brain Teaching, so we can help our children be the best they can be.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching-Action Research

Sixteen weeks ago I started an Action Research project on Whole Brain Teaching through Walsh University in Ohio. My research was on the effectiveness of the consistent daily use of the Super Improvers Wall. I wanted to know if this would help children grow in their understanding of their learning and lead to more direct effort to improve learning. The idea behind the wall is to acknowledge improvement in all children.  This relates specifically to Carol Zweck's work on Mindsets and encourages children to have a growth mindset. It also relates to recent research on rewards and the need to acknowledge effort rather than intelligence.

The Super Improvers Wall has colour bands up one side and the children's names clearly marked on the chart. The children are given stars for improving. The more they improve, the more stars they receive, and the quicker they progress up the colour levels on the chart. The children also help me find times to reward other children in the class. We are all much more aware of improving. It is interesting to note that no other reward is necessary as the children are so happy to be improving.

The research has led me down some unexpected pathways. Initially the children were unsure of the meaning of the word improve and they were also unsure of their strengths and weaknesses. The children now understand that to improve, means they will get better at something. I now regularly talk about improving with the children. We include weekly goal setting during focus group time. Generally the children are much more aware of their learning and are able to identify things they need to work on. They are in charge of their weekly goals. This is backed by a comment from Glutzenberg that states, "Self direction works better than direction."

The course is now finished and all I have to do is hand in my final Action Research Paper. The reality is that I will continue to work on praising effort and growth in each and every child. I will also continue to use weekly goal review and setting during focus group time. The children love being acknowledged and given stars and progressing up the wall. The children are all aiming for gold, our highest level.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy 2nd WBT Birthday

It's my second WBT birthday. It was during the Easter holidays in 2011 that I began to explore WBT. I watched videos, downloaded material and read what I could. Before you know it the holidays were over and it was time for this new baby to venure out into the world. It is great to look back at the beginning and celebrate my 2nd WBT birthday.
Babies start with few skills and build on these over time. I started with class- yes. This is the WBT attention getter. How you say class, the class copies it but says yes instead. If I whisper it, they whisper back etc. Then I introduced hands and eyes. This is another attention getter used for when you need to make special points. I say hands and eyes and the children drop everything, clap their hands and keep them together and look directly at me. This strategy works a treat. So with these few skills WBT had began and now I was building on my skills.
Just like a baby I was keen to explore more.  I introduced the WBT scoreboard. This was another super effective strategy. I drew a smile face and frown face on the board and gave tally marks for positive things and not so positive things. When the smile side wins we celebrated and when the frown side wins we groaned. The more success I had the more I wanted to try. We then added gestures to our class rules. Our rules are set by the school so I just added gestures to them. Then I started adding in more and more. I was exploring WBT and so were the children.
Just like any two year old I have had many trips and falls along the way but just like a two year old I get up and keep working on my skills. I look forward to the year ahead and learning and growing some more. Perhaps there will be less trips as the days pass and my skills improve. One thing I know is that WBT works and I will not go back to the way I was teaching before.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching Glasses

Have you discovered your whole brain teaching glasses? I realised I had my pair on when I recently attended a professional development day on spelling. The presenter was fantastic, and the information shared was both encouraging and challenging. At no stage did the presenter talk about whole brain teaching or any other form of whole brain approach. What did happen was that I was seeing things differently because of my new whole brain teaching glasses. I don't recall exactly when I got them, but I think it has been a gradual process over time and now they are firmly in place. 
I first realised my glasses were on when I started relating things that were happening to my knowledge of how the brain learns. The presenter was vibrant and enthusiastic about the topic. Ah! she got me, and my prefrontal cortex had decided to buy into what she was saying and my visual cortex was watching her move around the front of the room with ease and my Wernicke's area was involved in comprehending what was happening. My limbic system was engaged as I was enjoying the session. Before long we were sharing thoughts with a partner and now my Broca's area was involved as I talked my thoughts about spelling. Next thing I know we are doing an acitivity and moving around and now my motor cortex was involved.
Learning about the brain and how it works in relation to learning has helped put those glasses on. This new knowledge and my new whole brain teaching glasses helped me get the most out of the day. The thing that really helped put those glasses on was particpating in an Action Research Course on Whole Brain Teaching. As part of this course we had to read the text "How the Brain Learns," by David Sousa. This book helped me put theory behind what I am doing and helped it all become more meaningful. My new glasses helped me look forward and think of new ways to work on spelling that will be more challenging and engaging for the students I teach.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I love it, I love it, I love it!

These are the words I heard during a mathematics lesson today.

This week our focus has been on money. In Australia we have two gold coloured coins. The smaller one is the $2 and the larger one is the $1. Most of our activities have used these two coins. This has opened up a lot of opportunities to talk about counting in ones and twos, addition and subtraction. It has given us the opportunity to review and build on concepts already covered in previous lessons. We have reviewed a number of power pix from previous lessons.

The children were excited to learn about our new topic and told their knee buddies they were excited. I created our own power pix question and answer with gestures. We started with mirror and asked our question. "What is money?" The answer I chose was, "Money is for spending, money is for saving and money is for giving." You can use your imagination for the gestures. We progressed onto teach /o.k. and the children were totally engaged in teaching each other.

We used looking and feeling to investigate our gold coins and now the children are getting good at describing them. The children are using their whole brains. They are using their prefrontal cortex to decide to participate, their visual cortex to look, their motor cortex to feel and move, their wernickes area to listen, their brocas area to speak, and their limbic system is being used, as they enjoy the novel activities we are doing.

We have used some cute A4 laminated pink pigs, value cards and coins for a bank for saving and doing addition. Then we used the same piggy, coins, value and spending cards to help us with subtraction. We have used a variety of songs, acting and recording to explore money. Tomorrow we have Crazy Hair day and will bring in a gold coin for our compassion sponsor child. Our activities have been real, relevant, relational and rousing.

Towards the end of today's lesson I said we were going to play yes/no way and that was when one dear child called out, I love it, I love it, I love it! I do not ever recall being that happy when a teacher asked me to do a revision activity. We followed this up with a QT game and the children were thrilled to learn another new game. I was thrilled to find another assessment tool that was easy to use and so accurate.

I would like to join the young girl from my class in saying, "I love it, I love it, I love it!"  Whole Brain Teaching is like a breath of fresh air that has blown out the old way of doing things and is bringing in the new.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wise One and MInd Soccer

Last week Mind Soccer was mentioned as a soccer game to play inside but the smiley faces had to win to learn more about it. amazingly th very next day th e smiley faces did win and the fun began. The students are divided into two teams sitting on opposite sides of our big red mat. A yelow beanbag is placed in the middle of the mat. Students get in the ready position with hands on their knees and then the questions begin. "What is a sentence?" The hands fly up in the air and the correct answer is given. The children are recalling questions and answers from our power pix wall. Mind Soccer is a great tool to rehearse things covered in class time, when we use other wbt strategies to help us learn. Mind Soccer is also a time of laughter as the children add drama to their little kicks of the ball. The slow motion kick seems to be the most popular at this stage. We have had some free kicks given to the other team due to put downs and teasing. We have also had some ball changes to the other team for incorrect responses. The children are lvoing mind soccer and so am I. It is another fun way to see who understands a concept and who needs more help with it.  The only concern I have at the moment is how to encourage the slower children to keep trying.  I do not want them to stop playing because others are faster. Perhaps I can change the game to my choice not hands up. I am interested in any thought on this topic.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wise One and WBT

Week two already. We have started so many different aspects of wbt and now we are learning to use these on a regular basis. This week the children met Biffy Blue Bird who helped us with our rhyming words. They were amazed when we had our first try at 100 words with the electronic version of Superspeed 100.We have now learnt all our rules and are practicing them daily. We have also started using our Super Improvers Wall. On Friday we had our first game of Mind Soccer when the smiley faces won. They are certainly keen to play that game again.

Next week I will begin having students as rule leaders and I know they will love that. The funbursts to practice rule one are enjoyed by all and the children are getting the idea of following directions quickly. Demonstrating breaking the rules or what something is not, seems to work with this group of children. Getting 100 percent participation is something to continue to work on. At this stage they are not use to using their whole brains and the expectation to be involved in what we are doing.

I have made many changes to my room and the way the class runs. Part of this is because I have a child repeating and I do not want year one to be the same as last year for him. Secondly, it is because of the reading I am doing in relation to the brain and learning. David Sousa's book How the Brain Learns gives lots of great foundation information that is really helping me. It is putting Whole Brain Teaching into perspective and encouraging me to go deeper with what I am doing. I certainly feel inspired.

I have adjusted my jobs for students to be week long jobs rather than daily job, changed to make better use of time. I am giving students more time to enjoy reading rather than always read and do a follow up activity. This is after reading The Book Whisperer. I am changing how I run my blocks of time in class to make better use of the prime time to teach and learn in a lesson. I am learning so much and looking forward to taking my class forward with whole brain teaching.

Week three I will be using red green writing, the genius ladder and superspeed grammar. I will keep you informed of progress and am going to add some photos of my room as well. I am also going to look into the Crazy Professor reading game. Maybe this could help with read to self time.

To the stars, hoot, hoot!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 with wbt in Wise One

A new year and a new class name. After so much preparation and day one finally arrived. We had severe winds and heavy rain in the lead up days, some places have been flooded and some have experiences tornadoes.  This morning I woke to sunshine and blue sky.  What a relief and an answer to prayer!  A great start to the new school year.

The children and parents arrived and it was all systems go. I had a teacher assistant up until lunch time today.  I now have all the books labelled and on the correct shelf, the children have set up their own tidy trays and the tissue boxes are ready for those coughs and sneezes that come during the year. The parents left after a few quick words about no homework or parent helpers this week and it was time to launch into wbt. I had watched the Day one webinar last night just to make sure I had things clear in my mind before the day started.

We started with class, yes and the electronic scoreboard. For the first time I had a child say class back to me but I was not really surprised, as Coach B did say that may happen. The children love the scoreboard and so do I. In the past I was always looking for a whiteboard marker or on the wrong side of the room. Now I just get a child to tap the Ipad and they love it. We then moved onto rule 1 and used mirror words and gestures. Fun burst worked really well. They also really liked it when I demonstrated what follow directions, was not going to look like. The children were rewarded with some free play time when the happy faces won.

I was able to incorporate two lots of small group talks about different topics and already the children have the idea, that I expect them to be doing what is asked. They were not so thrilled when the odd sad face scored a point. Some other techniques used today were ‘’hands and eyes’’ and  ’’ it’s o.k.” I only taught the class up until lunch time so tomorrow will see us add in rule two, teach/o.k and our first power pix. My Super Improvers wall is on display but no child has made a comment about it yet.

In conclusion, day one was amazing and I know the children were using their whole brains. I am also amazed by what you can learn about a group of individuals in one morning. I look forward to day two. To the stars, hoot, hoot!