Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Genius Ladder

I used the Genius Ladder as part of our Morning Work.  Students were given a "blah" sentence and they had to work on it from there.  As they finished they'd bring me their notebook and I would read through them.  Each day I'd pick out one as an example and write it on the dry erase boards at the front of the room.  They had fun guessing whose sentence was on the board and started working even harder to get selected as an example. 

I would read through the ladder and we'd point out what made the sentence "spicy", "extended", etc.  I would then circle the adjectives and conjunctions they found.  Students started writing additional detail sentences on their own--without my even having to prompt them!

I really noticed a difference in their writing skills.  As the year went on I started taking their suggestions for "blah" sentences which got them even more invested in the process.  This also helped me out quite a bit as it became harder for me to think of them.  I usually wrote the sentence on the board around 7:00 A.M. and if my iced coffee hadn't kicked in it was insanely hard to think of one I hadn't used already.

After 3 years in 3rd grade, I was asked to move to the middle school level.  I'll be teaching Language Arts and Reading for 6th, 7th and 8th grades.  I plan on taking the Genius Ladder with me, and adding WBT's awesome new idea: Green/Red Marker! Check out the video on their homepage!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Picture Happy!

I'm all about taking pictures this week!  My previous post has pics of my Scoreboard, my PowerPix "wall", the Rules posters, and the beginnings of my Genius Ladder.

Below are pics of my front door (I'll add students' names to the apples as I get my class list), a space for Ten Minute Writing (on the inside of the front door so they can place Post-its on their way out the door), and an updated picture of the Genius Ladder.  I velcroed 4 small dry-erase boards for the "rungs" of the ladder.  I didn't write out "blah, spicy, extender or genius"--instead I used the first letter of each word as the ladder climbs higher.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Putting the Pieces (and Pictures) Together!

I've been working on my room for about 2 weeks now.  First, I went in with the intention of making my old, non-magnetic chalkboards into magnetic, dry-erase boards.  I was partially successful.  The magnetic paint went on well enough--and worked.  Until I put the dry-erase paint over it.

Essentially, it's a Catch-22 because the magnetic paint is a very dark gray color.  The dry-erase is (obviously) white, but the more coats of paint on top of the magnetic layer makes it less effective.  And because you're painting a light color on top of a darker one--you need more coats.

Long story short, I have lovely dry erase boards that are magnetic in random spots.  Ah well!  Still not bad for $30 bucks!

Anyway, all that to say: I've got most of the WBT Classroom elements up and ready to go!  Due to my lack of wall space, I decided to use our mini-blinds for Power Pix.  I have separate sections for Math and Language Arts and plan on using clothespins to clip the pix to the "wall".  The Classroom Rules posters I created (see previous post) are different from the ones on the WBT site, but I think came out really well.  I paid $40.00 to get them blown up at Office Depot (12 x 18).  Then took them to a teacher supply store to get them laminated for $3.00 total.  Check out my pictures and tell me what you think!

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Classroom Rules Posters!

I've been tinkering around with The 5 Classroom Rules and created different posters.  I thought I'd share in case anyone wants to use them.  I plan to have them enlarged and laminated so that I can display them above my chalkboards.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Whole Brain Teaching: So'll pass out!

I was all set to spend 3 days at the WBT Texas Conference.  Apparently I was so excited after the first 2 awesome days of information that I fainted as I was about to leave for the third.  Twice.  Fortunately I was staying with family and they were there when it happened.  Unfortunately it meant I spent 5 hours in the Emergency Room having tests run instead of attending Day 3.  Mighty Groan!

But enough about that!

I am beyond excited to start using WBT in my classroom this Fall!  As previously posted, I only dipped my toe in the Whole Brain water by doing Class-Yes, but this year I'm going all out!  My classroom neighbors will probably hate me (we have extremely thin walls), but if the kids are engaged and learning--that's what counts.

I can't emphasize enough how helpful it is to attend one of these conferences!  You get to see the wonderful Brother Biffle in action and how to put all the pieces in place.  

The videos (while inspiring) are a bit daunting at times though.  The teachers go so quickly and (at least right now) it feels like "I'll never get that good!"  And I very well may not.  The videos we saw were well done and the students were engaged, but I felt were almost rushed.  There were times that I couldn't even understand what they were saying it was so fast.  The teacher's energy level was (on a 1-10 scale) at a 10.  I'm probably more of a 5--on a good day, so this will take some personal personality tweaking.

Or maybe it's just such a departure from the way I (and most of us) teach that it seems rushed.  I definitely think this will be my biggest challenge.  The steps and levels of WBT--those I think I can master and implement in class.  It's just my own energy level that's going to take some work.

A 10-finger rolling "woo" to Mr. Biffle and Region III for hosting this conference.  Never have I been to a more engaging and interactive conference.  Well worth the 2 hour drive from Houston!