Monday, January 19, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching & the Common Core...

Happy MLK Day!  I hope you are all enjoying your day and reflecting on how far we have come as a nation and I feel this is especially amazing to see in our classrooms!

While I am reflecting on our nation's history, I am also wedding planning, house-hunting, doing grades, and blogging!  Ha!  Whoever said I couldn't multi-task?

Actually, I am starting to feel somewhat overwhelmed which is why I decided to focus my mind and blog!  I have been thinking about school a lot less than normal these days with everything else going on, but somehow, it always tends to center me.  I am so blessed to have a career I love and have a passion for!  So, here I am sharing my thoughts with you today!

NOW... DOWN TO BUSINESS!  Since I teach in a priority school, we actually get pulled out of class several times a month for PD!  And that is on top of after school & early release PD!  I am definitely not slacking on professional development, that's for sure.  But I do struggle with keeping focus on WBT while all this other stuff is being thrown at me!  So, I thought I would share some of my strategies since I am sure most of you may feel the same way whether you are at a priority school or not!

There are so many programs for education now and as I talk with more experienced teachers, it seems that it has always been this way!  Try this!  Try that!  Do it this way!  Do it that way!  New programs all the time and some are AMAZING and some just plain suck!  How do you keep it all straight and know which to use and which to throw out?

I could talk about this forever but I will just get to the point!  We had another PD last week on more Common Core stuff.  I am a fan of Common Core & I hope it stays long enough to be effective.  I do think the standards are age/grade appropriate & honestly, Common Core has made it somewhat easier to implement WBT in my classroom!  

I base all my lessons off the Common Core State Standards.  And when I write a Whole Brain Teaching Lesson, it takes so much less time for my students to understand the concept that I am able to teach 2-3 concepts each week!  As a part of my 1st Whole Brain Teaching Unit using Tacky the Penguin, I included 5 Whole Brain Lessons that I was able to teach in just 2-3 weeks!  This unit includes ALL First Grade Reading - Literature Common Core Standards (and several writing standards)!  

Imagine teaching an entire strand of standards in less than a month!

On the first day of a lesson, I do the 1st 3 steps of the WBT Lesson plan format.

Step 1: Question
Step 2: Answer
Step 3: Examples (I spend a lot of time on Step 3 before I move on!)

And admittedly, a lot of times, I will skip to Step 5 before I do Step 4!  I like to get a feel for where my students are at before I go into Critical Thinking (depending on the topic)!  So, sometimes during Step 3, I will add elements of Step 5 (such as playing Yes/No Way!) and then proceed into Step 4.  

Then every morning (afternoon for math) we review our Focus Wall & Power Pix!

So my students review what we are learning (Common Core Standards/I Can Statements), and what that concept is EVERY SINGLE DAY!  This repetition has done wonders for my students in learning different concepts!

I also keep a binder called "Things We Have Learned", which are simply Power Pix that we have already mastered!  Students can read this binder whenever they have free time & let me tell you, they LOVE IT!  Morning Work has turned into reviewing old concepts and studying the "Brainy Binder"!  

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the Common Core PD we had last week!  We had to take an ELA CCSS and write a related objective & lesson.  Then we had to assess whether or not our lesson aligned with our objective AND if they all aligned to the standard.

We found that several groups did not have alignment & I realized that using Whole Brain Teaching has really helped me align each lesson with each standard!  

If you are teaching a grammar standard on capital letters, although a lesson having students write a story would allow you to assess capitalization, it is more aligned with a writing standard.


If you do a Whole Brain Teaching lesson on orally writing using capital letters & punctuation, you are meeting the objective AND the standard!  For every standard you teach, you can easily write a Whole Brain lesson & easily use a Power Pic to help your students remember and review what they are learning!

I am currently in the process of finishing up my Jungle Themed ELA & Math Power Pix that align to the Common Core.... as soon as I have the complete set, I will share with you all in My TpT Store.  Until then, you can get FREE Power Pix (currently listing the California State Standards but are the same concepts as Common Core for the most part) on the Whole Brain Teaching website under FREE E-BOOKS!

I am also working on writing more 5 Step Whole Brain Lesson Plans for each standard.  I will share as much as I can!  

You can easily use WBT with Common Core by simply taking each standard & turning it into a question (your 1st step on your WBT lesson plan)!!!  

Are you using WBT and Common Core?  I would love to hear your thoughts & see how it is done in your classroom!  Use the comment form below to let me know!


  1. Hello! I would really love the whole brain teaching unit, but I can't seem to find it. Is it still available? Thanks! Karen

  2. Hello, Heidi I just stumbled onto your blog. I have used WBT for the past 3 years and feel I have a long way to go, however, I'm so impressed by the way WBT helps me meet all the goals my school has for me as a teacher. We are currently using MCREL a model for good teaching. It list all the strategies that we do as WBTeachers naturally. Thanks for your enthusiasm.

  3. I am thankful to this blog for assisting me. I added some specified clues which are really important for me to use them in my writing skill. Really helpful stuff made by this blog.
    ปากกา อัจฉริยะ