Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Welcome to another edition of WBT Wednesdays!  This week we are talking all things MIRROR WORDS!  Another AMAZING engagement strategy from Coach B!

Whether you use other parts of WBT or not, mirror words can work for you!  Best of all, it is simple, FREE, and the kids LOVE it!  I'm talking all kids.... Kindergarten through College!

When I first started using WBT, I was practicing Mirror Words & Teach Okay with my class.  Through this, I had a light bulb go off and I realized that most of the time I was doing all my wonderful, meaningful, exciting students were not actually listening to me!  They could not repeat what I said at all!  They looked good (most of them anyway) ... sitting nicely, eyes on me, ready to learn.... or so I thought!

Ever since I started using mirror words & teach okay, I have seen a HUGE difference in the retention of information in my students!  Especially my struggling students!

In this mini-clip, you can see how powerful mirror words can be!  It is around 18 seconds in that my student says, "Mirror Words".  Notice how much more ENGAGED the entire class is with this technique versus if he just stood up and talked to the class without mirror words!

If you are wondering how I taught my 1st Graders multiplication, check out the Whole Brain Teaching tab at the top of this page!

But as you can see, using mirror words is so much more engaging!

As I stated earlier, even if you are not using WBT, Mirror Words is a great way to start!  The concept is simple....  STOP TALKING!

Seriously tho...

The point of our classrooms if for our students to learn, right?  So why not let them teach?  

Benjamin Franklin said it best!

So how does Mirror Words work?

It is really quite simple!  You say, "Mirror Words" and put your hands up (like a stick up!).  The students repeat, "Mirror Words" and do whatever you do!  You speak in short phrases so they can repeat whatever it is your are saying.

You can see in the video above how the students have also learned to speak in short phrases so that when they are teaching, the class can repeat them.  Adjust this to fit the needs of your students in your classroom!  If they can remember more, talk a little more!  If they can't, talk even less (until they get the hang of it!)

I use Mirror Words EVERY TIME I teach anything!  No more Mrs. Martin at the front of the room talking all day!  Whether its Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, procedures, etc... I am using Mirror Words!  And the best part about it is that once you teach the students how to do it, they can take over teaching your class & you have found teacher heaven!

To read more about Mirror Words, CLICK HERE and if you do not have the AMAZING WBT book (with lots more information on this and other strategies) you can get it here!

Thanks for checking me out for this WBT Wednesday and be sure to check back weekly for more WBT Tips & Tricks PLUS links to other WBT blogs with even more information!

If you have questions, leave me a comment! You can also join us every Wednesday night on BLAB at 6pm CST & ask your questions LIVE!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WBT Wednesdays PREMIERE! **Student Engagement ~ Whole Brain Teaching Style**

Welcome to WBT Wednesdays!
I am so excited to collaborate with so many amazing Whole Brain Teachers every week!

If you missed the details, here is how it works:
WBT Board Members & Staff will be doing live Blab shows every Wednesday at 6pm CST.  Just got to and search WBT!  All you need is a Twitter account!

Then, I will be hosting a weekly linky party for all Whole Brain Teachers with a blog on the same topic!  You can blog about how you use the strategies, your experiences, your questions, what works, what doesn't, ideas, etc!  Be sure to follow my WBT Facebook Page for details on the topic of the week!

You can watch the BLAB.IM replay by CLICKING HERE!

Okay, so this week the topic is the Attention Getter (Class/Yes) and the Focuser (Hands & Eyes).  

**The Attention Getter**

So, if you have not tried using "Class Class" with your students yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?  It is by far the most effective (and the most fun) way to immediately get your students' attention!  If you are still flicking the lights, counting to 5, or doing that silly clap thing, it is time to upgrade!

The key to using this attention getter is consistency and setting expectations!  I have heard teachers use this and only half the class responds, yet the teacher moves on.  This is a NO NO!  You have to set your expectations high and accept no less!  I expect complete silence after my class responds "Yes Yes".  If I do not get it, I will either call Class Class again, or it will be a Mighty Groan on the SCOREBOARD.  We PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

Right now, we are in the 4th week of school and we are STILL practicing getting our Class Class down!  Sometimes it takes a little longer but be consistent and don't give up!

However you say Class, the students should respond with Yes the same way.  Some examples are:

"Class Class!" ~ "Yes Yes"
"Class Chicka Class Class" ~ "Yes Chicka Yes Yes"
"Oh my Class!" ~ "Oh my Yes"
"Yo Class!" ~ "Yo Yes!"
"Attention Class!" ~ "Attention Yes!"
"Class A Doodle Doo" ~ "Yes A Doodle Doo"

You get the point!  There are so many varieties and my kiddos LOVE to make up their own versions!  Once they get the hang of Class Class, I start introducing more versions & letting them help me come up with ideas!  Last year, a favorite in my class was

"Minions Class!" ~ "Bee-Doh Bee-Doh Yes!"

There are also tons of ideas in both of Coach B's books, Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids and 122 Amazing Games!

**The Focuser**
Okay, so you called Class Class but now that your students are so used to hearing that, we need to REALLY get their attention when you have an important point to make, right?

This is when we use "Hands & Eyes"!  You call out "Hands & Eyes" and the kids reply "Hands & Eyes"....but that's not it!  They also fold their hands and put their laser eyes on you because they know you are going to tell them something SUPER important!

To add even more drama to this (or just to change it up sometimes), you can make a "Really Big Point" Arrow!  Stand here when you have something amazing to say!

This arrow is from my friend over at Mrs. Unger's Unbelievable Elementary Experiences!  I have not made mine yet but I definitely plan to as soon as I get settled into this school year!

Don't forget to join us tonight on for more discussion around getting 100% Student Engagement in your classroom!

Check out some other awesome WBT Teachers below and if you have used either of these strategies, link up with us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kids are people too!

Happy Wednesday y'all!  So, if you have been following my periscopes at all, you may already know that this school year is off to a rather slow start for me!  It is taking a lot of time to get used to basic procedures and expectations but we're getting there!  

Today we had to back track a little bit and review our rules A LOT!  My friends definitely lost Scoreboard today too.  It was a day to bring on what I call the "adult talk"!

I teach 1st Grade but somehow every year I end up having this discussion with my students.  I really need to sit down and make this into an actual unit that I teach.... which is why I am blogging about it!  I would love to hear how you connect your PRIMARY classroom to the real world!  There are so many amazing ideas out there ~ BUT... I feel like a lot of them are more suited for older children.

My students need something now...that is at their level!

"Adult Talk" always varies but goes a little something like this 
(and it's never planned!):

Me: What do you think would happen if I came to work and acted this way (refer to specific or general behaviors of the day)?

Students: You would get fired.

Me: And what happens if I get fired?

Students: You won't have any money.

Me: What happens to me if I do not have any money? (And I am very careful about this part because I do teach in an urban school district.)

Then I give time for various answers that usually sound something like....
~ you can't buy clothes
~ you won't have a house
~ you can't get nice shoes
~ you can't go to McDonalds

You get the idea!

Then I talk to the students about how we're not just in 1st Grade but we are getting ready for the world!  And I tell them how much I care about them and I want them to be successful!  ~ But, you cannot be successful if you are a hot mess! ("Hot mess" is kind of my thing LOL)

I also frequently sit on tables and desks as I am tall (and now pregnant) and I will often have students try to do the same.  I tell them that I can do that because I went to college and when they go to college, they can come back and sit, stand, jump, whatever, on all the counters and desks they want!

So anyway, I am sure some people feel this is a loaded discussion for 6 and 7 year olds but I also think it is important for them have a VALID reason WHY they should act a certain way in school.  It is not just because they are in school, it is because they are part of our society and we all have to be responsible for how we act...including me!

Anyway, I would like to elaborate on this discussion and bring out activities around it as needed throughout the year.  I do have to be sensitive to the fact that many of my students do know people in jail, struggle with money, and come from broken homes.  But I also want them to know they can be whatever they want to be if they always work hard and DO THEIR BEST!

If you do anything like this in your classroom, or know of some awesome resources for connecting behavior from the classroom to the real world, I would love to hear from you!

Friday, September 11, 2015

5 For Friday - September 11th

It's Friday!!  Made it through week 2 of school!  The beginning is the worst, isn't it?  But the kids are getting to know me, I am getting to know them and we are finally starting to transition into a great year!  I just have to remember ... IT IS A PROCESS!

Anyway, so today is September 11th and this is one of my favorite things to teach about!

The kids are always intrigued and sincerely interested in learning about what happened.  I always start with a picture and predictions.  I show a picture of the twin towers before 9/11.  Then I show this.

Then I ask if anyone knows what happened?  Most of them usually do not.  So I use Teach/Okay and have them make some predictions about what they think happened.  This is usually pretty interesting!

Then I show a picture of the 2nd airplane heading for the building and we make more predictions.

After our predictions, I use Brain Pop with Tim & Moby and show the first part of the 9/11 video.  This is not meant for primary grades so I usually stop it when they start to talk about the Pentagon.

Then I show pictures of police officers, firefighters, military, and other people who helped out that day!  We start talking about what it means to be a hero & then we write about it!

Then, I read September 12th!  I love this book and I also use this as a tool to show my firsties that anyone can be an author!

The last thing we do is put on our WE REMEMBER badges!

I am having a giveaway!!!  I am so excited about my new blog design, I wanted to throw a celebration!  PJ's Design Labratory did an amazing job working with me to create a unique look that fits my personality (and currently my classroom)!

You can enter the giveaway until Wednesday, September 16th by CLICKING HERE!

I am so excited about parent communication this year because I am using these amazing tools!

First, I LOVE the REMIND app!

It has only been 8 days and already this has been an amazing way to keep in contact with parents about reminders & important information!  As a busy parent myself, I know getting text reminders to my phone would be the most efficient way to keep me updated on my daughter so though it may not be for everyone, so far it has been a great tool!

I am loving the HomeRoom App as well!  It is Instagram for your classroom!  The only difference between HomeRoom and IG is that HomeRoom is completely private!  I used Remind to invite my parents to HomeRoom and it is a great way to share pictures of what we are doing in our classroom!

This year I created a closed group just for my parents!  I like having Facebook AND HomeRoom because I can give more detailed explanations, share links, and post videos on our Facebook page!

I love these apps for parent communication!  Leave me a comment and let me know what apps you use to stay in touch!


It is about that time to talk about Fire Safety!  I always start out with our FIRST book in the Ready Freddy series (which my first graders absolutely LOVE!), Firehouse Fun!

I now have the complete Ready Freddy series!!  

Then we talk more about Fire Safety in writing and math using my Fire Safety Fun Pack!  We tally the room, graph our results, and practice writing Triple Whammy's!

My number 5 is still a work in progress but stay tuned to my blog or my Droppin' Knowledge Facebook Page for more details about WBT Wednesdays!  I am working with Nancy Stoltenberg and Coach B to put my idea to work to bring more Whole Brain Teaching your way!


Wednesday, September 09, 2015

New Blog Design CELEBRATION!

OH. MY. GOSH!  I am so excited to have a new blog design!  I just LOVE IT!  Not to mention, it matches my classroom!

So, to celebrate, I am hosting a CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY!

And I am keeping is OH SO SIMPLE for you!

I just wanted to show off my new, professional, blog design so all you have to do to enter is leave me a comment so I know you were here!

You can, of course, get more entries by following my social media but you don't have to!

Click HERE to visit my store to pick out 2 products that you would like for FREE if you win!

Enter the GIVEAWAY below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Star Student Board for Classroom Management!

Hey guys!  So, I am finally getting around to getting my Star Student blog & product together!  The first week of school was pretty brutal!  It was HOT with no A/C, my feet are not used to this big ol' belly, and I am now up to 28 students in my 1st Grade class!

Since the hubby is watching the Huskers and college football all day today, I figured it would be a great time to work, right!?

I was inspired to write this post because recently I found out that a principal in a school in my district is having her whole staff use the Star Student board this year!  A friend of mine went for an interview there and the principal had mentioned it during the interview!  I was shocked & honored at the same time!  I guess someone at the school must have been following my blog and made a copy of something. She saw this, looked into it, loved the idea (better than the clip charts they had previously used), and decided to go with it!  She has also asked me to come to her school and speak to her staff on how I use this!  Exciting, right?

So, I put together this Star Student No-Prep Kit to help other teachers implement a positive classroom management system!

So... this all started when I was a substitute teacher.  I needed a way to quickly earn the respect of students without yelling or giving negative attention to students who wanted it!  I actually thought of this idea on the spot, tried it out, and IT WORKED!

When I finally got my own classroom, I wasn't sure this could hold up all year but I had not found Whole Brain Teaching yet so I figured I'd give it a shot!  And once again, IT WORKED!  ALL YEAR!  

The basic idea of the Star Student board is to start the day recognizing students who are doing a good job.  Giving the attention that our beloved rascals want so much to the other students who are on task & making smart choices!  I start out every day this way!  It really helps on those tired days when you start losing patience right away in the morning and are tempted to yell at all the kiddos acting like beloved rascals!  The star student board not only keeps my students in check, but it keeps me in check too!

So this is my basic (not so cute) Star Student Board!  I just use a dry erase marker on my make-shift whiteboard each day!  It gets messy and is not super cute but it works!  If you want cute & clean, I have created Star Student Posters & Name Plates for you to use!  As you can see, next to the board, I post our class bank.  This is where I keep track of stars earned.  After the students earn $20, they can go SHOPPING!  Everything in this catalog is FREE to you and FUN for students!

There are daily incentives for students to get stars & the class bank is an incentive for them to keep their stars all day long!

Our school does use PBIS and we have "Gus Bucks".  If any of my students earn Gus Bucks from other teachers, I collect them and mark them as tallies in their bank account.  I have included shopping catalog covers that say Star Student and PBIS so you can choose what works for you and your school!

This is the daily reward chart that I use!  This is included in the kit along with an editable version!

Now, if you have ever read my blog before you are probably thinking, "How does this work with Whole Brain Teaching?"  I have a whole page written about how I use this with the Scoreboard & the Super Improver Team in the Kit and you can also read about it here.  When I first found WBT, I figured I would eventually wean myself off of the star student board, however, I have not yet been able to let it go!

Here is a lil preview of what I have included in the Star Student Kit...

I hope you find this post useful if you are looking for a new classroom management system!  If you have any questions, please leave me a comment and I will be happy to help!

Also, don't forget about the First Grade Labor Day Sale this weekend!  Visit Teachers Pay Teachers and search #firstlove for some GREAT deals for primary grades!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Teacher Week ~ Classroom Tour!

Okay, so I have to do a classroom tour BUT, this is my 2nd day of school in 90 degrees with NO air and I'm preggo so yes, I am whining!  And I am exhausted!  So, with that said, this is going to be a short classroom tour!

I have a challenging class so far this year and I have 28 kiddos... so far 25 have shown up and one is on vacation so my fingers are crossed for 26 because we are already cramped with 26 desks!

This is an overview of my room... and I took these pics today because I totally forgot so don't mind the 2nd day mess!

Ugh, you see all of those desks?  We can barely move in here!

This is my Super Improver Wall and as you can see, last year I had one living legend!  I have his brother in my class now so it's funny that he has to see this everyday!

Our WBT Rules are posted here, our daily schedule, and our calendar is here as well!

Here is a closer look at my starting Super Improver Board!  To see how this looks further into the year, CLICK HERE!

This is my new word wall!  I love it over here because this is my leveled library area for centers.  Moving the word wall to a workable space is going to make it much more efficient I think!  I started out the word wall this year with the words from the first 10 levels of Super Speed 100!

Our birthday chart is also here!

This is our Classroom Jobs area.  I have not yet put up student pictures or names for job assignments yet but I will be starting that next week!

This is also our pencil station and soon to be Facebook Wall!  I will post about how I use this Facebook Wall soon!

This is my writing station starting out with SuperSpeed, List 1, Alphabet Tracers, Dictionaries and Thesauruses!

This is our spot for counting how many days we have been in school, our Wacky FUN Buttons, our Shopping Catalog (more info to come on how I use this!), and our WBT Biffytoons Binder!

This is an overview of the front of our classroom and here you can see the Star Student Board and WBT Scoreboard!

This is our unleveled library that we use for centers and DEAR time!

This is my Guided Reading Area and Focus Wall with WBT Power Pix!

Oh my goodness, that was the fastest tour EVER and I have so much more I want to share!  I have a blog TO-DO list so if you have any questions on how I use anything, please leave me a comment and I will be sure to get to it!

Thanks for taking this tour with me and I hope you are all having a GREAT start to your school year!