Monday, September 7, 2015

Whole Brain Capitals and Punctuation-will it affect test results?

Every year, our Iowa Basic tests show the kids have trouble with capitalization and punctuation. I have tried many different ways to get the point across. This year, I am using Whole Brain lessons to try to get the knowledge inside of their beautiful minds.

One day, I was perusing the Internet when I came across a video of two teachers "giving" me a lesson on how to teach capitals and puncuation. The video showed the fun they were having sharing it and it made me think my kids would love it. If you would like to see the video, it is here: Whole Brain Teaching Air Punctuation. These two second grade teachers will have my greatest thanks if the results come out the way I think they will!

Needless to say, when I introduced the idea, the kids were grinning ear to ear. I am using it with their spelling tests because I require them to use their words in a sentence. Practice, practice, practice is my theory!
Capitals are formed by putting hands together and raising the top hand. The period is shown by a hand pushing out, like you are saying, "Stop!" Question marks are shown with a shrug of the shoulders and the hands out like, "What?" An exclamation mark is kind of like shaking pompoms. Easy and fun! I am having the kids practice by reading their own sentences.

We take the tests in two weeks. I'll let you know how it goes!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Using whole brain education isn't as easy to do in a classroom with more than one grade as it is when all of your students are first graders or eighth graders. I have found that some things are just really hard to accomplish, but there are some things you can do that work perfectly in the multi-grade room.

Class-Yes: Sometimes, I want the attention of my entire class. Then I use the class-yes routine. When I just want my fifth-graders, I say, "fifth-grade class" and, of course, the appropriate response is "fifth-grade yes!" Now, everyone else can keep on keeping on while the fifth-graders are paying attention to me. This is a modification from this previous post.

Super Speed Reader: This is great in a multi-grade room, because my students in any grade may be reading above or below level. I can pair kids up with better readers helping the struggling reader and they just think their are together because everyone has a partner. Super easy!

The Crazy Professor Reading Game: This is a noisy game anyway. Students reading in the same book simply work together and paraphrase their reading together. They all learn the gestures together.

The rules and classroom management are still working well. The kids will immediately quiet each other when I put a mark on the board and, when some kids just can't get it together, they accept that, sometimes, the marks are all about and only for them.

If you haven't tried Whole Brain teaching in your class, I strongly suggest you read the site or head over to youtube and check out a few videos. There are definitely benefits from this fun program.

Happy kids click art by cyberscotty

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Whole Brain in the Multi-grade Classroom

Okay-for two years I have tried to incorporate Whole Brain education into my classroom, but it was hard because I have a special classroom. It is almost like the Little House on the Prairie classroom in that I teach grades 3-8 at the same time. Over the past two years, I have done some tweaking of the program to fit my needs and it is starting to come together.

First, I start the year out much like the regular Whole Brain classroom. We learn the Five Rules (Get your free posters here or here. Practice, practice, practice...just like Chris Biffle and his followers say.

When it gets to Class! Yes! it gets a little more difficult. My students have to learn that, at different times, I expect different responses. Class! Yes! gets the attention of the entire class and they all respond. 3-4 Class! gets a response from students in grades 3-4. 5-8 Class! gets a response from students in grades 5-8.

I have other little "multi-grade" ideas, little changes, that I will be trying in my classroom. Then, I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Personalizing Whole Brain Rules for Your Class!

What a great time it was-watching all of the kids coming back to school after the long holiday-something that happens every year. This year, the whole tone in the room was different. As the kids walked into the classroom, this is what they saw on the white board:

Now, if you read my blog yesterday, you will know that we started the second semester much as we did the first day of school. First, each child stood in front of the board with a mask. They were each given a rule that they had to demonstrate and then my husband, an excellent photographer, took quick pictures for me and had them ready to go by the time I was finished with my after-school work. Because I am not as good with the GIMP program as he is, it took awhile, but I have two pictures ready to show you.

This started our day with laughter and fun! Some were a little embarrassed, but everybody did it. A bonus for their posing-everybody gets a copy of themselves with a beard! (Thank goodness for photo sales at Walgrens!) Best of all, this activity led into a review of the class rules, just as we had done at the beginning of the year. We had a great day with no discipline problems!

This year, 2015-2016, I am going to up-date this. I found some photo booth props for $3.00 at Wal-Mart. This year, the rules will feature current students. One that I have planned will include big, red lips in front of a student's mouth for "Raise Your Hand Before Speaking." I am still working on what I want to use for my background. Any great ideas, please share!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mid-Year Review

If you have ever let students have a weekend off, you have to know that they tend to forget what is expected of them by Monday. After two weeks off, I have decided that I want to treat the first day back a little like the first day of school. Instead of introducing rules, procedures, expectations, I am only going to review them. 

At the first of the year, I started the first day by taking pictures of the first five students. Each one did a different pose, showing one of the five rules. Because of a quirky day at Barnes and Noble, I am doing it a little different for the second semester. I think they are going to love it.

At Barnes and Noble, during the holiday season, they had a fun Friday. I had my picture taken with a mask from a reality show. I sent a text to all my family and they all found it amusing. The clerk gave me my mask so, I thought, why not take a picture of each of my kids using the mask and demonstrating the rule.

On my white board, as I write this, is a two-yard long. chevron-striped sheet of material. That will be my background. Check back tomorrow for the end results. I think the kids are going to love it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Class Yes and Fire Alarms-a Whole School Idea

This year, all the teachers in our school (both of us) are trying to implement whole brain methods in our classroom. Of course, one of the first things we implemented was Class/Yes. The lower grades, K-3, love doing it, while my older students were a little more reluctant. Still, we have practiced, and practiced and...well, you get the picture. I didn't know how wonderful having an all-school participation element was going to work until yesterday.

The alarm went off with the help of my aide. Our school has only two classrooms and, though we are getting one, we do not have an automatic alarm. As it buzzed, the kids lined up, crossed the alley and formed two lines, one for each class. Each teacher went down her row, verifying that all of the students were present. They were. 

Since this was the first fire alarm of the year, I always talk to the kids about what was great about their exit and to let them know if they needed to change something. It is also a good time to tell them why we do what we do and what we need from them. 

The kids were excited and talking among themselves while the teachers exchanged the information we needed to write down; then I was ready to talk. I needed everyone's attention and the thought came to me, "Class!." In unison, every child in the room responded, "Yes!" With a smile on my face, I completed my little talk. What a wonderful way to attention without having to talk over the voices of two classrooms.

The great thing about this is, as I thought of how well having the kids ready to respond was, I realized that, in a time of danger or during an experience where time was of the essence, "Class/Yes!" could save the day. Have you used "Class/Yes!" outside of your classroom?

Monday, August 12, 2013

First Day Rule Fun

On a previous post, I had stated that I didn't know what I was going to do for my rules posters this year. Mulling it over, I decided to make unique signs for my class. First, I downloaded signs from Whole Brain Teaching's web site.

I didn't hang the posters in my room. Instead, I hung up a border on my wall. This is what it looked like:

I decided that the first five students who came through the door would be my models. They grinned and wrinkled their noses, but they did it. I know they are going to be adorable. I am going to put them on GIMP and add the words for the rules. 

Here are a couple of my results (I left the mouths so you could see that they really did enjoy it.):

Rule number 2: Raise your hands before speaking.

Rule 4: Make smart decisions.

Rule 5: Make your dear teacher happy.

My plan is to take new pictures and make new posters every month. The kids really did enjoy posing. When the rest of the kids see these posters, they are going to love it...and they will want to be a "star," too!