Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mid-Year Check In

I hate following blogs of people who don't consistently write and then what do I do?  Exactly! Actually, I am in a state of limbo.  I have become very comfortable with the components I have in place of WBT and like how things are moving along and haven't yet revved up to jump into the plethora of options still out there - I'm just sort of hanging out in happy WBT land.

When this happens, I know it's time for me to set a serious goal. 

Therefore, I am putting it out there that I will at least tape a few sessions of math in the next week and put them on Youtube for a more experienced wibbeter to watch and offer feedback - I'll ask sweet Nancy.

Two, I will and repeat,  I will play miind soccer next week.

Three, I will show one of Coach's new common core pdf's in a new series I will be starting on Wednesday's for kids - College Class with Coach!!

I'm sweating already.  I want to of course build those power pics - work beyond the first level- really get into the Writing game and math problem solving and ... and ... and...

The beautiful part of this program is that I can move at my own pace and I don't think I will ever be able to tap into all that Coach and his amazing helpers have to offer.  Yet, honestly... I'm not moving at all.  I will blog on Tuesday nights and that is my fourth goal, even if it's just to check in and say how I'm doing on my first three goals.

That's all for tonight - I'm looking forward to a snow day this week.  I want that unplanned, unexpected gift that says whatever you choose to do today is perfect. 

Until next time,


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What Are We Playing For?

"What are we playing for?"  any given student in Bell's class first thing in the morning.

This has become the standard question on Monday mornings in my classroom.  It is what excites kids and motivates them.  They have become accustomed to us having a weekly challenge of what we play for with the scoreboard game.  I chose to keep the prize the same for a week so that I wouldn't have to think up something new daily.  The idea of that overwhelmed me.  I can usually plan something on the weekend for the following week whether it's a utube search or a pinterest find.

This past week, we played for five minutes of free time.  Prior to WBT entering my life, I would have given my students five minutes for free but no longer.  We maximixe our learning time and usually have a one minute reward that students try to earn everyday.  For them to have five whole minutes was truly a treat and one they used well.

This next week, we will be playing the hand-clap game of sevens.  I'm excited about it!  Not only will it energize them, it will work on midline skills which always enhances learning and focus not to mention increasing eye strength, team building and will be just plaing fun.

Here are two girls who have excellent instructional videos on a variety of hand-clapping games as well as some other links that I have used so far this year.

Sevens:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3knQAUN1kcY

Dance like you have ants in your pants:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYWycl8vR5c

Thriller animation:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v

Coach B's CCSS Series!!

 The Common Core - WBT Style

"What do we teach?" ask many.

"What don't we teach?" state a few..


"How do we teach it?" the curious inquire.

"How do we escape it?" cries the shrew


"When do we begin?" the teacher querries.

"You haven't yet?" the principal replies..


Well... uh ...the teacher stammers..

as she falters, stumbles  and lies.


A superhero is then born

by the name of Coach B


who offers some advice

and all of it free


on to the slideshow where students will focus

on one word Coach will teach them to apply


the magic of BECAUSE will become standard

and used often becomes alive


a single, a double a triple:  it's strong evidence you see

and yet made easy to teach as 1, 2 and 3


The more they use it the more they will know

how to think

all we had to do was pop in the show

and take a sip of our hot frothy drink


Thank you Coach for your special series

on how to teach the common core -


You've inspired me yet again

with tools to teach and wings to soar.

Here's a link to Coach B's special series on how to teach to the six shifts the common core brings. His first piece of the series is how to use the because clapper to incite critical thinking.  His slide show is ready to use and can be applied to almost any grade and subject.

Also, we found out tonight that there will be a national conference in June.  This is terribly exciting and will be held in Pineville, Louisiana.  I'm going to have to figure out a way to get down there.  I wonder if I can talk my family to travelling there for vacation :-)


p.s.  I just checked and the link is not up yet but I will post it as soon as it is.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dissolving Math Word Problems

Everyone is a genius. 

But if you judge a fish by his ability to climb a tree, he will live his whole life believinghe is stupid.

Albert Einstein

I've seen this quote twice this week.  Each time I thought - that's the one I need to post - I've felt like a few of those fish in my lifetime.

An interesting day. 

First, I missed school today to attend a district workshop on the importance of vocabulary.  It was an informative workshop and I walked away with quite a few ideas.  My thoughts wondered throughout the workshop to how I might incorporate the new concepts and ideas and how I might change them to fit within my WBT framework.  I always love learning new stuff and ways of approaching teaching and the presenter was well informed and quite experienced.  All in all, a positive learning day.

Then, I came home and began the Halloween countdown, ate dinner with the family and then settled in to my WBT weekly webinar.  It amazes me each week how I walk away from those sessions, which are usually under an hour, and feel stuffed with ideas.  I'm grateful each week for the WBT community and their enthusiasm.  Not only do I end the session anxious to go to work the following day so I can implement it, I somehow also leave hungering for more, impatiently waiting  for next week's session.

Now on to math. Math can be scary, uncomfortable and overwhelming. I've seen students shut down before they even begin.  I think part of it might be the fact that if you don't keep up with math - it somehow gets ahead of you and you feel like you are always playing catch up.  If you miss some big chunk - you feel lost from that point onward.

When students are given math word problems, they are being asked to complete three seperate skill sets that isolated can be challenging.  Together, reading comprehension, problem solving and math facts, must logically intertwine and crest together to bring perfect understanding and ability to tackle the problem.  That crescendo moment happens rarely if not properly preparing students how to take down their math monsters.  We must teach them the isolated skill sets they need and then teach them how to bring them together so they know what is being asked of them (reading comprehension), what to do (problem solving) and how to answer the problem (math facts).

In this week's broadcast, number 534, Coach Biffle walks us through a series of steps that we need to teach in order for kids to be successful with math word problems.  The first of these is knowing what is being asked.

Begin by having students paraphrase the question and state it in a dramatic way.  Students cannot paraphrase if they don't understand what the text says.  It is an excellent way for math partners to work together to make sure they understand.  By incorporating the dramatic effect, they are having fun and staying engaged.  Not the usual math class.  We need to give students plenty of opportunities to practice paraphrasing word problems in a dramatic way.  This alone is an isolated skill that needs to be mastered.  In the beginning, don't worry about having them answer the problem.  Just practice learning how to read the problem. 

Once students feel successful with this concept, have them identify the key numbers.  We need to slow kids down on word problems and just by identifying the key numbers, it will help them identify the operation and will make more sense when attempting to solve the question. 

Next, students will need to identify the key words.  This can be done by finding the key words or, the same skill can be practiced by asking students to mark out everything that is not a key word.  I can't wait to try that.  It will make them think twice before marking words out as they won't want to mark out what they might still need.  It's an excellent way to identify what is important.

The operation must be identified and steps taken to answer it (problem solving).  By putting the operation  in the forefront of your thought process, you are being clear about what your next step will be.  After identifying the operation, students are ready to move on and solve the problem (math facts).  They need to be able to explain their answer and to be confident in what they have done and the best way to ensure this is to have students complete the final step and that is to prove it. 

We talk a lot about inverse operations and if it is an addition problem, they can prove it through subtraction and vice versa.  If it's a division operation they are working on, then they can use the inverse operation of multiplication to prove it.  Either way, they must prove their answer.

If we can teach kids these steps and to really use them, they will feel more confident in bringing together all that they know and be successful.  I can't think of any part of my schooling history that I hated more than math word problems and I hope to dissolve that apprehension and fear  for my students.  If I can make word problems easier, I am making learning easier for there won't be any other challenge asking as much of them as math word problems will.

Here is the link to Coach's webinar on Dissolving Math Word Problems.  I highly recommend it!  You will be as excited as I to bring his great ideas to your classroom.


Scroll about half way down the screen to video library and select program 543.  Enjoy!



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Triple Golden Sentences

If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.
Tryon Edwards
Why is it so difficult to teach children how to write?  It's a question that many have asked.  As a matter of fact, I was asked this question today by members of our school's leadership team.  They are trying to gather information explaining why our writing scores have dropped this past year.  Hmmm..... Why did they drop?
Was it the new mandated curriculum that we implemented that focused more on genre's than teaching technique?
Was it the new pace we were asked to maintain generating rushed pieces every week?
Was it the lack of time in our schedule as administrators and district coordinators fail to communicate honestly asking too much be taught with too little time.
I guess it doesn't really matter - we have to find a way to make it work and to teach kids how to write... enter WBT and the Triple Golden Sentence.
The Triple golden sentence is simple.  It's a method of helping students organize their verbal thoughts. 
Students will be asked to write a sentence with three distict points.  An example would be as follows:
This past summer I had the opportunity to visit Disneyland, Hollywood, and the beach.  They have to be completely seperate thoughts. Students then use their three ideas to begin the pattern.  They write one sentence about each of the three areas.  They conclude the paragraph restating their opening sentence.
With color coded strips, you would then show students that their second paragraph would be about Disneyland.  The third paragraph would focus on Hollywood and the fourth paragraph would discuss the beach. 
It seems like common sense but students really struggle staying on topic.  If they could see the color coded chart, then they could see it all falls back on writing one efficient triple golden sentence.
I've heard one fellow wibbetter suggest that the color coding might occur through sentence strips, allowing students to see the colored strips and place them in their correct positions.  Another option might be to provide scaffolding charts to help students see the connections.
By giving our students a method to organize their verbal thoughts, we aren't just  helping them be better writers but rather better thinkers.  Students have much to say, they are great thinkers but at times it's difficult to nail those thoughts down so they can share them in a logical methodical manner.  I'm excited to have another tool to help students improve and improvement equals success. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Superspeed Math

By learning you will teach;
by teaching you will understand.
Latin Proverb
I have been waiting for my weekly therapy, excuse me, Whole Brain webinar session to focus on math since I'm teaching two sessions of math daily.  It was such a disappointment to hear the big day was happening on my mother's birthday which caused me to miss the webinar, therefore the fun dialogue that accompanies it.
I am having to settle for watching the session online but in a way, it is allowing me to focus more on the content instead of the witty companionship of my fellow wibbeteers.
Coach began with addressing the reason that students are struggling in mathematics.  He stated four basic reasons.
1.  Lack of repetition
2.  Errors corrected too late
3.  Zero fun
4.  Non-Motivating Rewards
The answer is Superspeed Math.  This addresses all four reasons that cause students to struggle with math.  Superspeed is an easy program whereby students drill one another, making immediate corrections while having a load of fun and feeling empowered through their improvements.
I've been using Superspeed math as one of my rotating math stations.  I'll agree, kids love it!  They love the opportunity to beat themselves and the  time commitment is so short that they don't feel discouraged.  I realized however, that I need to tweak a few aspects of my implementation of the program. 
After students improve one time, they are supposed to move down one line as the next starting point.  I have not had my students doing this which means they have not been increasing the difficulty of their sessions.  I plan to up the ante this week.  By increasing the difficulty level, students can progress through the various components which will continue the challenge for them, especially the more apt students. 
I also don't feel that I am using the program frequently enough.  I am being forced to use a program called Fast Math for students to practice math facts.  I have felt somewhat resentful at how much time that program will take and have not been willing to give any other instruction time to facts but I believe that brief practice frequently used will heed better results.  This week, I will participate in my FM obligatory requirements but will then use SuperSpeed on alternating days.  I'm excited.
Coach continued the math discussion introducing Chocolate Math.  The concept is simple, as it should be and can be used for a multitude of mathematical situations, which is effective.  He has created a 100's chart in the form of chocolate pieces and showed with that simple tool, how you can use it to have students prove mathematical concepts.  Students would draw lines in various colors on the laminated charts to prove word problems and story concepts.  The simplicity is what will make this successful.  The chocolate (even though on paper) is what will hook kids.  I can't wait to give it a try.
All for now,

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baby Shark

  I've been struggling trying to find the perfect short celebration for the scoreboard game.  It seems if I choose the famous one minute party - my kids go crazy.  I'm not confident enough yet and haven't built up my reserve of questions for mind soccer.  I don't have a lot of time to give towards this endeavor and coming up with a new idea daily was wearing on me.


This weekend, I stumbled across the Youtube video and thought this might just be the answer.  On Monday, I told my kids that we would keep the same celebration for a week.  That way, they know what to expect and I'm not trying to think of something new each day.  Baby Shark is a camp song that builds on itself and has a catchy little tune with hand gestures.  A perfect marriage to my WBT teaching. 

If they win, I can turn on the video - stand in front of the class - do the gestures and giggle with them as even the toughest of kids begins to laugh while making Grandma Shark gestures.  I couldn't help but smile Monday afternoon when kids were leaving singing the baby shark song. 

And... did I mention our school theme this year is, "Diving into Learning?"  Perfect!

Now ... what about next week?

Any ideas?