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!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Whole Brain School

After watching 50 hours worth of Whole Brain Education videos, all the teachers at my school (both of us) are going to be using Whole Brain techniques to teach this we will have a Whole Brain School. Because it is easy to start and harder to stick with in a multi-grade school....2 teachers in a K-8 school with at least 31 kids....we will work together to keep it going.  So tomorrow, it is Class/Yes Okay/Teach!

What are you doing to make your room a Whole Education room this year?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Posters for Rules

I have been trying to think about what posters to use to teach my children the five fundamental classroom rules. Today, after reading a suggestion about using posters without the pictures to make them appropriate for all of my students, I perused TeachersPayTeachers, a site I love. I was unsuccessful-but it spawned a thought that I can't shake!

The first thing I am going to do is post my old rules that I downloaded from Chris Biffle, fearless leader of the Whole Brain Teaching curriculum. Click here to learn more. Anyway, I will have great posters to use the first day, but, then....

I am going to chose one child from each class. It will be the first one to arrive on the first day of school. I will have a tape "frame" on my bulletin board that I am going to make with blue painters tape or a cute bulletin board border. The child will stand in front of the frame and create the symbol that represents the rule. Each month, I will redo the posters until everyone has a chance to be the star of the rule. I think this will eliminate any idea that the poster is too babyish or too mature for anyone in the room.

I think this idea is out of this world! What do you think?

Monday, July 15, 2013

New School Year

I am getting excited. School starts in four weeks. I am fixing up my classroom, making my classroom furniture bring out character in my classroom. I am trying to decide which poster to put up...with the rules for the classroom. My class includes students in a six year spread, from 3rd to 8th, so I want to choose posters that will not be to "young" for the older students or too "mature" for the younger students. I may just make my own this year.

This is an important element in my classroom because the first things I will do is use the rules to share expectations with my students. What is the one classroom detail that you are spending the most time on this summer?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Preparations for Whole Brain Education

Part of my problem with sustaining Whole Brain Learning in my classroom is a planning problem....therefore....I am planning things out this summer. My schedule will reflect time for SuperSpeed 1000 and the Crazy Professor Reading Game. I am meshing styles together and will include these in some of my partner reading times throughout the day. This will be my main goal for the first quarter. Of course, as summer moves along, I may find it easy to add the math and writing components. In fact, I hope I do because I have seen results with kids who struggle in their learning. It is harder to do in a classroom like mine-I have students in grades 3-8-but it is going to be well worth the effort! I am determined to make that effort during the 2013-2014 school year. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wow! I really let this blog down. Truth is, I teach in a multi-age classroom and it offers extra challenges for Whole Brain education. It also offers benefits and I am still working to balance them out. This next year, I hope to work this into my entire program...something I will be working on this summer. I love the ideas and free resources that are shared by Coach B on his website,, are incredible. If you haven't visited and signed up, you really must-if you are interested in this type of teaching. The materials are free...they just ask that you share it with others. I will try to keep the blog updated too. If you teach, you know how hard that can be...but, even with six grades, I shall endeavor to endeavor!