Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Testing Out Whole Brain Teaching

Today I tested out the Whole Brain Teaching method and my students completely loved it! The rules were easy to implement because they are already basic rules we use on a daily basis. Now they have a cute reminder poster and a physical movement to help them remember. Today had a 4 year old student visit my class who will likely join us next year. He was able to get it just as quickly as my second graders who are moving on to the next class in the fall. This was really encouraging because it looks like half my class will be really young ones in the fall.

So far the kids favorite has to be the "mirror." I noticed it really helped my students. I was surprised by the number of things I could apply the strategy to throughout the day. I have one student who really struggles with verbal comprehension. When I used "mirror" along with hand motions, the student was instantly able to understand what to do. He also said he loved it because it make his work feel like it was more fun. I think I'm going to slowly work in one or two strategies a day for this last week and a half of school. I can test the waters and work out the kinks in the system before the new school year.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Whole Brain Teaching

Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I stumbled upon the Whole Brain Teaching method. I clicked a link for a cute, end of the year activity and ended up on an awesome teaching blog. I was watching the video of the kids using the Whole Brain Teaching in their classroom and they all looked so excited to learn and always knew what to do next. None of the kids were saying "wait, what do I do?" as I often hear in my own class (despite the fact that I've given the direction twice). Some of my kids have significantly delayed verbal processing, and I think this method would be really helpful! I've decided to try it out in my classroom tomorrow and see how it goes. It's the end of the year and I think my little guys would love to help me try something new to spice up the end of our year. I figure I can play around with the strategies for the next week, and then perfect it over the summer just in time for the new school year. Perhaps summer school would be another great way to practice this. Below are links for the official website, the great blog I found, and another great blog that has the 5 rules on cute little charts.
Whole Brain Teaching
Printable Charts for the 5 Rules
The blog that got me started on this

Monday, May 21, 2012

Classroom Library

My classroom library has been my big project of the day. Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest, I found a great website for cataloging my classroom library books and setting up a "check out" system for when my students want to borrow my books instead of the ones in the school library. The link for the website is below. I was able to use their iPhone app to scan the bar codes of my books and the system automatically loads the title, author, etc. One thing I forgot about is the Scholastic Book Club books don't have bar codes sometimes. Those need to be typed in by hand, which takes a bit more time. Usually you just enter the ISBN number and it finds the book in the system for you. A few of my random science books needed me to type the title and author by hand. My theory is once it's done I'll only have to do it once in a while when I add a book or two to my collection. This is still a work in progress, so we'll see how it goes.

Booksource Class Library Website

Below are a few pictures of my class library. It is one of the few things that stays consistently organized in my classroom. I have set it up in a way that the kids always know how to put a book back. Thanks to the wonderful jmeacham website, I labeled my book bins a few years ago. I used her labels, glued them on 3x5 cards, and taped them on plastic shoe bins with packaging tape. My kids always struggled to know what category some of our stories fell into when two or more made sense (such as "silly stories" and "animal fiction" work for Duck on a Bike). I started putting colored dots on the back of each book and on the front of each bin so the students could match them. Each dot had one or two words such as "silly" or "science."

Two related subjects in the same box to save space along with their corresponding dots

Sticker dots taped over with packing tape

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sight Word Assessment

Each year I like to track my students' progress from the beginning to the end of the year. The attached assessments are how I track my students' ability to read sight words. The "B" column is for the beginning of the year. I've learned sometimes my students already know half of their sight words by the time they enter my room. Since I teach special education, sometimes my students regress and forget information they have learned. I like to see each column side-by-side so I can see how much they they can do each quarter. I mark a slash for each word read correctly, and leave it blank for words the student doesn't know by sight. I also like to use a different color pen each quarter so it's easier to read at a glance.
First Grade Sight Word Assessment
Second Grade Sight Word Assessment

Here is a picture of the assessment being used. I like to use colors for each quarter and I even show the kids so they know to look at the new color and see how much better they did than the last time they read the words.


Welcome! This is my first post on my very first blog! I teach in a cute little cottage where each day is a new set of adventures. I loop with my students from year to year, and I get to know my kids quite well. Some days it feels more like a family than a classroom, and I've come to love that! It's the end of the school year and for the first time, every student of mine is moving up to the middle elementary classroom in the new school year. I'll have a whole new batch of kiddos coming into my room this fall. This has inspired me to make a few changes in my room. The first of which is this blog! Take a peek at the picture of my cottage. I think I giggled a little the first time I saw it. 
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