Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Club - Chapters 8-10 Teach Okay

To start at the beginning of this book club with me:

Teach Okay is WBT's main strategy.  We know that research shows that kids learn best when they teach each other and work in collaborative groups.

In order to do Teach Okay, the teacher talks for about 30 seconds, says "Teach", the students say "Okay" and teach each other what the teacher said.  The teacher and students both use big gestures while teaching.  There are four reasons for this: First, if students are suing gestures, then the teacher can easily see who is on task and who is not.  Second, this brings in some kinesthetic learning and activates more areas of the brain.  Third, this gives students who are antsy, overly active, or have ADHD some movement instead of being forced to still still and listen.   And fourth, it's fun!  Teach Okay brings laughter and fun into teaching and learning.  Using gestures amps up the energy and gets everyone involved in learning! You can also add emotional content to your lessons while using Teach Okay and tap-into the limbic system, the emotional center of your brain.  To do this, tell your kids "We're not afraid to learn this hard concept, actually it's easy!  Tell your partner how easy it is." Or try "We're so excited to learn about ---- today.  Tell your neighbor how excited you are."

The best ways to use Teach Okay (In my opinion):
  • Teaching the lesson or daily objectives - My students need to be able to verbalize these if the principal comes in, so I will be using this strategy daily!
  • Introducing essential vocabulary - My school uses the Marzano Vocabulary program, and I can really see the Teach Okay strategy going well for initially teaching each word.
  • When teaching language forms - I taught English Language Development to a group of intermediate language learners at my old school.  My students had language partners that they sat next to on the carpet and had to practice using sentence frames to teach the weekly language form or function.  Using Teach Okay would be a great way to do this practice!
Other variations: Switch!
The Switch technique is for students to practice both listening and speaking.  Number your students 1 and 2 in each partner group.  Tell the 1s to be teachers and the 2s to be listeners.  Then loudly say "Switch!"  The students repeat "Switch!" and switch roles.  This is a great way for both students in a partner pair to verbalize the content being learned.
  • Teachers - use big hand gestures while they teach
  • Listeners - use listening gestures while they listen, such as holding a hand to their ear, nodding heads, silently mirroring the gestures of the teacher, or rolling hands as if to say "tell me more."
Other variations: The Tickler!
The Tickler is just a way to bring fun and laughter into lessons.  Clap, tap, stomp, rub, whatever you want to do before you say Teach, then students repeat and say Okay.  Guaranteed to get your class laughing and having fun!  Most WBT teachers only do a few claps with the regular Teach Okay lessons and add in the wacky variations when they want to add in an extra spice of fun.  Here are some extra Tickler ideas:
  • Disco dance moves (think: Saturday Night Fever)
  • Whirl a lasso over your head and say "Yeehaw Teach!"
  • Flap arms like flying
  • Air guitar
  • Chicken Dance
  • Hand jive
In Kinder or 1st grade, it is recommended to begin Teach Okay the second or third week of school.  In higher grades, you can begin it on the first day.  Once I finish this Book Club, I'll post my plan of how I will introduce each element of WBT, so stay with me until the very end! :)

For the book club, our assignment for this set of chapters was to create a lesson using the Teach Okay strategy.  Here is the lesson I created to teach standard 2.NBT.A.1a: 100 can be thought of as a bundle of ten tens — called a “hundred.”

T: Oh my Class!
S: Oh my Yes!
T: (Using big gestures) Today we are going to learn about place value.  Place value is the place, or position, of each digit in a number.  (Clap clap) Teach!
S: (Clap clap) Okay!  (Students repeat or paraphrase the definition of place value, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: (Holding up 1 finger) The first position is called the one’s place.  These are numbers from 1 through 9 (drawing the numbers in the air with pointer finger).  Teach!
S: Okay! (Students repeat or paraphrase, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: (Holding up 2 fingers) The second position is called the ten’s place.  These are numbers from 10 through 99 (drawing the numbers in the air with pointer finger).  Teach!
S: Okay! (Students repeat or paraphrase, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: (Holding up 3 fingers) The third position is called the hundred’s place.  These are numbers from 100 through 999 (drawing the numbers in the air with pointer finger).  Teach!
S: Okay! (Students repeat or paraphrase, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: Class-a-doodle-doo!
S: Yes-a-doodle-doo!
T: When thinking (point to brain) about place value, we can use concrete objects.  We can think of one as one little cube, sometimes called a unit (holding up a cube).  We can think of seven as seven little units (count out seven cubes).  Teach!
S: Okay! (Students repeat or paraphrase, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: We can think of ten (drawing ten in the air with pointer finger) as one strip of ten units, sometimes called sticks or rods (holding up a rod).  We can think of forty as four rods (count out four rods).  Teach!
S: Okay! (Students repeat or paraphrase, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: We can think of one hundred (drawing one hundred in the air with pointer finger) as ten strips of ten units, or ten rods.  These are sometimes called flats (holding up a flat).  We can think of six hundred as six flats (count out six flats).  (Clap, foot stamp, clap) Teach!
S: (Clap, foot stamp, clap) Okay! (Students repeat or paraphrase, using big gestures.)
T: Switch!
S: Switch!
T: Great job today!

Since you made it to the bottom of this post, I have a freebie for you!  Remember those adorable owl posters I made?  Well, silly me, I forgot the Teach Ok poster!  I updated the file in my TpT store, but if you already downloaded and just need the Teach Ok posters, you can snag them here from Google Drive

{click the pic to download in Google Drive}

{click the pic to download in Google Drive}

{click the pic to download in Google Drive}

How do you think the Teach Okay strategy would help your instruction?  Do you have any ideas or insights about implementing it?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Club - Chapter 7 The Five Rules

To start at the beginning of this book club with me:

When I first heard about WBT last year, I taught the rules, did the scoreboard (just the first part of it), and also used Class Yes.  I taught the rules, but I didn't always reference them, practice them, or even understand them!  After reading this chapter, I am much more prepared to introduce them and I appreciated how Biffle goes through and explains WHY the rules are the way they are.

Rule 1: Follow directions quickly.  This one is a no brainer.  Of course we want kids to follow directions quickly.  The quicker they do what we ask, the learning can be done and the less room for misbehavior.

Rule 2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.  This is another one that I enforce on a daily basis.  I can't stand when children call out, interrupt, or talk over each other.

Rule 3: Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.  This is the one that I didn't enforce.  I felt that i ha kids constantly raising their hands and asking me to get tissues, put a book away, sharpen a pencil.  With 28 kids, it was too much!  BUT, it makes sense if you don't want students wandering around the classroom, getting into backpacks or things they shouldn't be getting into during work time, or up talking to someone at another table without permission.  Biffle gave the idea of putting up a sign on the board to indicate times when it is allowed to walk around without permission, like during certain activities and lessons.  I like this idea!

Rule 4: Make smart choices.  I like this rule because it encompasses so much!  It's self explanatory and works inside school and out!

Rule 5: Keep your dear teacher happy.  At first, I thought this one was weird and egocentric.  But when I really think about it, I DO want students to listen to me and make me happy.  It's not so bad :)  Biffle says that this rule can be used when a student *thinks* they made a good choice, when in actuality is was rude, sarcastic, or generally disrespectful.  All you have to say is, "Well, that may be a good choice to you, but it doesn't make me happy because of yada yada yada".  That stops all arguments because who is the leading expert on what makes the teacher happy?  YOU!  The funny thing is that Biffle agrees with me that this rule is egocentric, but he goes on to explain how it helps students to learn how to respectfully talk to and treat adults.

And the never fail way to make sure your students know these rules?  Rehearse!!  Print signs from the WBT website or find some for free on TpT.  Hang them up and practice every day.  Your students will learn the rules and your will be a happy teacher!

I have two versions of rules in my TpT store for free.  I'd love it if you checked them out and could use them in your room!

What do you think about these rules?  Would you change anything about them?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Club - Chapter 6 Class Yes

To start at the beginning of this book club with me:

The assignment for The Book Study for chapter 6 was to come up with 10-15 new variations of Class Yes, WBT's attention getter.  Here is a list of my favorites from the participants of the book club:

  • Class Meow, Yes Meow (reminds me of Super Troopers!!)
  • Class a doobie do, Yes a doobie do (think of The Temptations)
  • Woo hoo Class, Woo hoo Yes
  • Boom chicka Class, Boom chicka Yes (reminds me of a camp song!)
  • Aloha Class, Aloha Yes
  • La Class-eh, La Yes-eh
  • Woop woop Class, Woop woop Yes (Arsenio Hall style!)
  • Heeeeeey Classy Cla-ass, Heeeey Yessy Ye-ess (Gangam-style)
  • Choo choo Class, Choo choo Yes (while pulling an imaginary train whistle)
  • Classerific, Yesserific
  • Yo Class, Yo Yes (I actually have a book in my room called Yo Yes!)
  • Class a doodle do, Yes a doodle do
  • Class-a-saurus, Yes-a-saurus
  • Oh sweet Classity Class, Oh sweet Yessity Yes
  • Can I get a Class Class, Can I get a Yes Yes
  • When I say Class you say Yes, Class, Yes, Class, Yes (like a rapper)
  • Class Class Class, Yes Yes Yes (like the Bye Bye Bye song by N'Sync)
  • Surf's up Class, Surf's up Yes
  • Yee haw Class, Yee haw Yes
  • Ho Ho Ho Class, Ho Ho Ho Yes (Christmas-time)
  • Arrrrrggg Class, Arrrrrggg Yes (Pirate style)
  • Class Class Class, Yes Yes Yes (change pitch: low, high, low)
  • Class uh-huh, Yes uh-huh
  • Yahoo Class, Yahoo Yes
  • Party rockin' Class, Party rockin' Yes
  • Bada Boom Class, Bada Boom Yes
  • Class *jazz hands*, Yes *jazz hands*
  • Oh oh oh Class, oh oh oh Yes (sounds like a monkey)

Here are mine (some of them are not that great! I was running out of ideas!)

  • Yo ho Cla-ass, Yo ho Ye-es
  • Classers, Yessers
  • Clurrrs, Yurrrs
  • L-E-T-S G-O Let's Go Class, L-E-T-S G-O Let's Go Yes
  • Cla - pause - ss, Ye - pause - ss
  • Class Be-bop, Yes Be-bop
  • Howdy-ho Class, Howdy-ho Yes
  • Cliss Class, Yis Yes
  • Class oink, Yes oink
  • Class neigh, Yes neigh
  • Class uno dos tres, Yes uno dos tres (Spanish)
  • Class ekahi elua ekolu, Yes ekahi elua ekolu (Hawaiian)
  • Class isa dalawa tatlo, Yes isa dalawa tatlo (Tagalog-Filipino)
  • Class ichi ni san, Yes ichi ni san (Japanese)
What are some of your favorite ways to switch up Class Yes?  Please share with us in the comments!

Book Club - Chapter 5 The Brain on WBT

To start at the beginning of this book club with me:

Chapter 5
This chapter is all about the brain research behind Whole Brain Teaching.

One of my classes in grad school was all about the brain research behind teaching and learning.  Also, my extensive training with Project GLAD has taught me the brain research behind language acquisition.  I know that students need to activate their prior knowledge in order to make sense of new information.  If they do not have something already in their brain to anchor it to, it will be harder to learn the concept.  I also know that through cooperative learning, students are better able to create new memories because they are using more parts of their brain than by just participating in an activity by themselves.

In chapter 5 of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids we learn some of the nitty-gritty details about the brain:
  • Prefrontal cortex - controls reasoning, planning and decision making
  • Motor cortex - memory area
  • Visual cortex - most trustworthy memory area
  • Broca's area - crucial in speaking
  • Wernicke's area - hearing and understanding language
  • Limbic system - center of your emotions
The hippocampus, a region in the limbic system, is where memories are processed.  In order to learn something, you need many repetitions so that those memories can be processed many times and stored in the brain.  The more brain areas that are involved in those repetitions  the more places that information will be stored and the more you will remember it!

After learning all about the brain and the fascinating way it works, Biffle introduces The Big Seven of WBT:
  1. Class-Yes - WBT's attention getter that acivates the prefrontal cortex and gets the brain ready to learn.
  2. Teach-Okay - By using gestures and having students teach each other, five critical brain areas are activated: visual cortex (seeing), motor cortex (doing), Broca's area (saying), Wernicke's area (hearing), and the limbic system (emotional feeling).
  3. The Five Rules - these rules use the five main areas of the brain and are repeated several times a week.
  4. The Scoreboard - WBT's motivational system.  This replaces team points, marble jars, good behavior tickets, or other ways teachers use to employ good student behavior.  This speaks directly to the limbic system.
  5. Hands and Eyes - Another attention getter that uses the prefrontal cortex.  Use Hands and eyes right before you say something SUPER important that you really want kids to listen to.
  6. Switch - This helps students practice BOTH listening and speaking, instead of some mainly doing one or the other.
  7. Mirror - Many scientists believe we learn best by mirroring and mimicking others.  
The end of the chapter goes on a little bird-walk, but I whole-heartedly agree!!  Biffle states that in order for real change to occur in education, administrators and principals need to be proactive in making sure teachers have a handle on challenging students and classrooms instead of playing catch-up once the teacher is failing.  BRAVO, Chris!  You hit the nail on the head.  I feel like so many practices that happen at the admin level are reactionary.  Why don't we offer training, guidance, and support from the get-go instead of assigning growth-plans, transferring out under-performing teachers, or just plain ignoring teachers who are struggling?  Maybe if this happened, new teacher turn-over wouldn't be so high.  One day, I will be an administrator, and my teachers will be supported.  Mark my words :)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Club - Chapters 3 and 4

I'm following along with the book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (I bought the Kindle version).  There is a book study page over at the blog  This site is mostly for people who want to become WBT certified, so I am sharing my thoughts here, too, in case you are more interested in just learning about what WBT is!

To see my thoughts on chapters 1 & 2, read this post over on my other blog, Teaching With Style.

Chapter 3
This chapter is all about the common mistakes that teachers make.  The author and creator of WBT, Chris Biffle, highlights these seven:

  1. Losing your temper and yelling at kids
  2. Confronting misbehaving children in front of their peers
  3. Having a disorganized space
  4. Being unhappy in your job
  5. Being unwilling to take work home or putting in more time than your contract indicates
  6. Assuming that all children love school or want to follow directions intrinsically
  7. Refusing to change or grow as a professional
Chris believes that until we get our classroom under control, we cannot begin to dive into our curriculum and standards.  When students do not know the expectations and are unable to follow directions, how can we expect them to do the hard work of learning?  Whole Brain Teaching techniques will help us as teachers get a handle on our classroom and enable students to really start learning.

Chapter 4
This chapter focuses on charting your OWN behavior.  Weird concept, I know!  And when I started reading the chapter, I honestly didn't understand why someone would take the time to write down how they reacted or behaved, because it's about the kids, right?  Well, Chris says that "you cannot manage student behavior if you cannot manage your own behavior."  Powerful words.

Out of the ideas in this chapter, I especially liked the idea of putting students into behavior categories.  I always know which kids are my leaders and which ones are my challenges.  But what about those middle kids?  Chris came up with these categories:

  • Leaders - the very best students
  • Alphas - model students
  • Go-Alongs - sometimes fell short of being a model student
  • Fence Sitters - Could go either way (maybe a bit like a loose cannon?? ;)
  • Challenging Students - we all know who these are!
In the scenario in the book, Biffle talks about rating the students each week on whatever measures you want.  The example was 1) following directions quickly, 2) raising hand for permission to speak, 3) staying on task, 4) turning in neat work.  The goal is to move each student up one level by the end of the year.  Eliminating problem behaviors seems like a daunting and hard task to fulfill  but when you break it down into reasonable and actionable goals, it is do-able!  I loved this method of behavior charting and felt that it would be beneficial for myself and the students! 


The beginning of chapter 6 starts teaching us all about the actual strategies that make up Whole Brain Teaching.  I will be back with my commentary on those chapters in a few days.  But I would like to leave you with a fun freebie that I whipped up in the car on the way to visit my parents on the Oregon Coast.  I hope you love it and can use it in your classroom! {Click the photos to download}

I'm linking up with TBA!
Freebie Fridays

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

New Blog!

Welcome to my new Whole Brain Teaching Blog!  Most of the time, you can find me blogging over at Teaching With Style.  But sometimes, I'll be over here, telling you all about my WBT experiences.  Why WBT?  I'll fill you in... 

I started to dabble in WBT this past year when I moved states and taught a new grade level in Hawaii.  I had always worked in a Positive Behavior and Intervention Supports (PBiS) school that had school-wide rules, expectations, incentives, and discipline.  My new school has a behavior acronym, but nothing else.  Our acronym is TORCH.  There is a torch in our school seal, which is a popular Hawaiian symbol usually meaning light of knowledge or wisdom.

TORCH means:
T - tenacious
O - observant
R - respectful
C - compassionate
H - honorable

I felt that I could teach these traits, but I still needed some concrete rules for my classroom.  In walked WBT.  There were rules, routines, expectations, and systems.  I was in love after seeing my very first video!

I even made my own rules to match my bright colored classroom decor!  You can grab a free copy by clicking on the picture.

Through this blog, I hope to become a certified WBT teacher this year!  I plan to share many more freebies with you as I implement WBT in my classroom.  I also hope to do some videos in my class!  Follow along with me on my new journey!  It should be filled with tons of fun!