Saturday, July 30, 2016

What is APTT?

Is your school using APTT this year?  Many schools are adapting this new way of conducting parent teacher conferences.  APTT stands for Academic Parent Teacher Teams.  For the past 3 years, I worked in a priority school where West Ed was our consulting firm.  They introduced APTT to us and I was one of the pilot classrooms for the program.  

Like all new things, many teachers (and parents) can be resistant to this change!  Most of our district still does traditional parent-teacher conferences so it was a struggle to get parents to understand what we were doing here!  I came up with my own letters trying to explain the process, spent time at the APTT meetings explaining the shift, and made plenty of phone calls yet I still had many parents who just wanted to schedule traditional conferences.  Don't get me wrong, one-on-one conferences are still a part of APTT and they are important, I just do not think they are necessary for every student.

So as you may know if your school has adapted APTT & you have attended the trainings, APTT is a group meeting where you establish relationships with parents & they establish relationships with each other.  You share student data (using numbers for confidentiality) and set goals for each student.  These meetings last for around 2 hours (3 times a year) so you get enough time to talk with parents as a group, present a skill, play a game, and talk with parents individually.  

It is always awkward at first but once you get through the ice breaker, most parents have loosened up & by the end of the meeting, you may have trouble getting parents to stop talking & go home! 

(This is what you want! ... when your custodian comes in to kick you out, you know it was a success!  Just prepare to stay late on APTT nights!)

Anyway, if you are on this page, you have probably gone through the training & got the West Ed resources but you have no idea what skill to focus on or what activity to send home, right?

This was the hardest part for all of us transitioning to APTT!

As a 1st Grade teacher, I chose to focus on sight words & addition.  These are skills that students NEED before they leave my classroom for academic success!  But what activity could I prep for 26 students that wouldn't take weeks to prep or cost an arm & leg?  And what could I play with parents at a meeting that would not be too hard to understand?

So, this is why I have created some resources for you!  All of these are ready to print & laminate, have a complete list of materials needed, & include teacher & parent instructions!

Click the pictures to view each product!

These resources are made for K-2 and have plenty of options for each grade and for differentiation!

If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Whole Brain Teaching 122 Amazing Games: Chapter 3

So, hopefully you are following our WBT FACEBOOK CHAT that Melissa from First Grade Frame of Mind and I are doing!  We also have AMAZING WBT Executive Board Members joining us to share their expertise so bring your questions!

Chapter 3 is a content filled chapter!  WBT's TOP 10 GAMES?!  These are THE BEST games that could possibly be played in any classroom EVER... 

"Why are they the best?"

Simple.  THEY WORK.

Here are my thoughts, ideas, additions from the conference, and questions on Coach's TOP 10 WBT GAMES.....

If you are not familiar with the basics of the Super Improver Team (SIT), see my blog post HERE or you can see a webcast from Coach B himself by clicking HERE!  

The new games and ways to keep your SIT interesting that Coach talks about in this book are so much fun!  REMEMBER not to pull out all these amazing ideas at once!  IT'S A LONG YEAR!  Keep them in your back pocket for when you really need them!

I REALLY need to remember these this year!

Secret Improver: I love this idea!  Choose 3 students (2 higher students with 1 low student OR 2 low students with 1 high... choose students who normally would not be grouped together.  Imagine the confidence builder for the lower student(s)!)  Call your secret improvers in when no one else is around and meet with them about their goals.  Let them know they are your secret improvers and give them easy to reach goals to work on to earn stars!

Ninja Spy: Make a Ninja Spy box and choose several students to be super secret ninja spies!  They need to secretly observe positive behavior (or academic improvement).  When they see something positive, they can secretly slip a note into the Ninja Box.  Read these out to the class sometimes to recognize positivity!  What a great way to promote positive attitudes and team work in your classroom!

Rovers: Choose students to be rovers.  Their job is to wander the classroom and HELP others as needed.  I love this because I tend to always have the same students help their classmates.  This will give everyone a chance!

Mysterion: Add this fake person named Mysterion to your SIT!  Give Mysterion stars occasionally and build student suspense as to who in the world Mysterion is!  When they can't take it anymore and just NEED to know, let them know it is you working on improving yourself!  I love this!  

What kinds of things do you use to spice up your SIT?!

2. The Brainy Game
I cannot wait to take my students to the next level with brainies this year!  I introduce most of the purple, blue, and yellow brainies right away!  I usually save the Triple Whammy, If/Then, In Conclusion, and Indent for when we are ready to start paragraphs.

Nancy Stoltenberg made an awesome version of this that students can keep in their desk.  Of course, I had to make it match my jungle theme so you can get that version for FREE by clicking HERE.

3. The Scoreboard
Again, if you are not familiar with the scoreboard basics, check out my blog post HERE.  This year at the conference (and in this book), Coach introduced SCOREBOARD LEVELS!  Another genius idea!  I love this and I cannot wait to use it!  I am just going to touch on the first couple levels because this is what people seemed to be getting confused about at the conference....

LEVEL 1: Smiley Side and Frowny Side.  Smiley side is 2 grade levels above your grade. Frowny side is 2 levels below (or just baby school!).

For example:  I teach 1st grade so on the smiley side, I write 3rd grade!  On the frowny side, I write baby school (because what kid wants to be in baby school, right?).  I am using this in my summer school class and I just LOVE IT!  Without calling kids out or reminding them a million times a day how to act, I just say, "Oh no, this is what they do in baby school!  Mighty Groan!"  Then they fix it and I can say, "Oh wow, look at these 3rd grade students!  Mighty Oh Yeah!"

What do they get for winning?  They get to win!  Just like a video game!

After 10 wins, they get to move up to level 2... (just like a video game)!

Okay, so do this the same as level 1 with the grade levels but add boys vs girls.  There is a picture on how to set this up on page 43 of the book!

So boys vs girls all day BUT, both teams have to have more smileys than frownies at the end of the day to win!  Girls don't win, boys don't win.... they both have to have more smileys and then the whole class wins!  GENIUS!

Same as level 2 except boys or girls will win!  Winner lines up first.  10 wins still equal a level up!

I have to adjust this a little bit because line leader is a job in my classroom.  30 seconds of extra recess or computer time works GREAT!

Same as level 3 but add another color marker to use and those points count for double!  So when boys (or girls) are doing a really exceptional job, bring out your colored marker and give them a smiley (or frowny if they are really off task)!  Oh what fun it is!

Coach goes through 6 more levels in this book!  The fun never stops and the game NEVER gets old!  The best part?  YOU CAN THROW AWAY YOUR TREASURE CHEST!

4. Leaders Rule
This new game is so intriguing!  I read Chapter 11 and immediately tried to think about how to adapt this into my 1st grade classroom! What do you think of this game?!

5. Practice Cards
Practice cards save you the time of calling out one child all day long or giving the whole class frownies because of one student!  You know what student we are talking about!  We have all had them.  Practice Cards are the perfect solution!  Make a chart (similar to your SIT) with student numbers.  If a student is breaking a particular rule over and over, simply drop a card with the rule number on it in their pocket.  

NEW: Coach suggests instead of making the student practice at recess for 2 minutes, give them a choice of practicing for 30, 60, or 90 seconds.  Coach says that surprisingly, students will chose 60 over 30!  I did not need to use practice cards last year (and you should hold off on these as long as you can!) but if I do, I will definitely be trying the choice practice times!  Did you use practice cards?  What did you like best?

6. Long Talk, Short Talk, Plan Together
This game should be modeled whole class and used when you have some beloved rascals who need a little extra guidance ...

Let the student make a choice:
Long Talk - Teacher talks and talks and talks and talks and talks (you get the point!).
Short Talk - Teacher talks & makes all decisions but keeps it short.
Plan Together - Teacher and student talk together and develop a plan to make their "classroom experience more rewarding".  

Let students know you prefer planning together!

I think this game goes along well with the bullseye game.  Has anyone used the bullseye game?  Farrah talked about how she used it with a student last year and it just makes so much sense!  With the especially challenging kiddos, I think this would be a miracle solution!

7. Wrong Way-Right Way Practice
ONE OF MY FAVORITES!  I went to a Responsive Classroom conference last year (mandatory) and they had us watch a video on teaching the students about good choices.  I was actually surprised that they used this video because there was a particular student who was dead set on showing the class how to do it the wrong way!  She was not allowed to do this but she was so focused on it that whatever the teacher was saying, she was not hearing!  WHY NOT just let them do it wrong first?!  

This is so fun for the students and they are having so much fun that they WILL cooperate when you tell them to show you the right way!  I used Baby School and 3rd Grade instead of right and wrong but you can do it however it works for you!

Have you had success with this method?

8. Mind Soccer
From everyone at WBT, this is the BEST game & also serves as an academic reward!

You simply draw a line on your chalkboard or white board with hash marks it.  This is your field!  Divide your class up into 2 teams.  Ask a review question and the first team to answer correctly moves down the field toward their goal!  The eraser serves as the team and you move it closer to the goal of the team that gets it right!

Coach describes this game in much better detail and you can see a video of the game actually being played HERE!

9 & 10. Classroom Management & Challenging Kid Averages (CMA & CKA)
Both of these chapters describe simple ways to track your students and yourself.  We are data driven these days right?  So why not collect the data that is going to help you the most! 

Unfortunately, I am horrible with data!  It is one of my goals that I have been working toward!  Since I always feel like I know my kids & I know myself, I have a hard time writing everything down.  However, it is VERY important to be able to back up what I say about my students and it is important to know exactly what I need to work on!

Have you tracked your progress or your students progress?  How has this helped you?

I would love to hear what you think of this chapter!  Linkup with us and share your thoughts on Chapter 3!  Comment here to share your ideas and join the discussion on Facebook!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

DIY Vintage, Distressed, & Repurposed Wood Signs

Okay, so yes, this is a TEACHING blog... however, I have this crazy new obsession that I wanted to share with you all!  So, it's still teaching, right?

So I honestly do not remember how or why I got started doing this... I really need to be creating things for TpT, blogging about WBT, and planning for the new school year but I just can't!  I only get a small amount of time to myself when the baby sleeps so I have to choose... and right now, I choose crafting!

By the way, if you haven't met Ayson yet... here ya go!  He is almost 6 months old already!

Okay so on to the DIY part... so I collected a bunch of pallets from a nearby school that is building a new addition.  I googled this and if you are looking for pallets, schools, Craigslist, churches, local businesses, and Facebook marketplace are great places!

I power wash the pallets when they are still together... this one I did not even think it was dirty but power washers are a powerful thing!  Then I set them out to dry and wait!

At first my husband was trying to tear them apart with a hammer... I do NOT recommend this strategy!  Our neighbor came over with a sawzall... this amazing tool that cuts through nails!  Pallets are made super strong so they are hard to take apart without a tool.

Once the pallet is disassembled, you can leave the pieces long or cut them in half... whatever you prefer!

I use Gorilla Wood Glue and clamps to connect pieces.  It takes about 24 hours to dry.

Once they are connected, it is time to sand it!  Some pieces I did not have to sand.. it just depends on the condition of the wood from your pallet.

I do this process with as much wood as I can so then I can start the fun part.... PAINTING!!  I have a ton of leftover paint from when we bought our house and we were sampling different colors.  So for right now, I am just using whatever I have!

It has been really sunny and hot here so the paint dries fast!  While I am waiting I figure out what I want the sign to say and design it using Power Point.  I print out the images and place them on the wood to make sure it will look right...

This is the part people keep asking me about!

After I make sure the wording looks good, I turn the paper over and trace the letters with a pencil on the back.

Then I turn it back over, place it back on the wood and rub with a pen or sharpie (anything sturdy would work).  This transfers the lead onto the wood so that I can trace it with paint!

I researched many different ways to get words on wood and this is by far the easiest!  I found this method HERE.

Then you just paint on the letters!  For me, this is the most relaxing part :)  After the letters dry, I sand it again to give it a distressed look.  If its still not distressed enough for me, I will dry paint using a tan color to get just the right amount of distressing!

Final touch to make sure your hard work does not get ruined is the Modge Podge!  All teachers have that on hand, right?

Here are some of my finished products... all of these so far are gifts but I hope to make my own soon!  Also, I have done all of these in the last week with a baby at home during his nap times so it really does not take long!

My daughter recorded my son babbling and in one of the videos it sounded like he was saying "I love you.. and blah!" so now we say it all the time!  This sign is a thank you to my in-laws for having us visit them this summer!

This one is almost done!  I added an arrow pointing toward "Always" and still have to distress it!  Another key to distressing is to NOT paint good!  I just paint a thin coat where I can still see parts of the wood!

 Anyway, that is my mini tutorial and since the baby is still asleep, I think I will go paint some more wood!  I LOVE looking at wood sign creations so if you are crafty, leave me a message below and link to your site!

Happy Crafting!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

WBT Book Chat: Chapters 1 & 2

We're back!!  Last year I was blogging this from the Whole Brain Teaching National Conference!  I was so sad to miss it this year but I know everyone who went had an amazing time!  And Vegas??  I am so jealous.

So, we decided to start up our book chat again on Coach B's 2nd book, WBT 122 Amazing Games.  Our Facebook group has stayed somewhat active over the past year so we thought it would be a good refresher to discuss the book again as we start to prepare for another year!

Melissa from First Grade Frame of Mind and myself will be linking up to blog about our takes on each chapter from Coach B's newest book 122 Amazing Games!

JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP TO LINK UP & TALK ABOUT EACH CHAPTER!  You can join the conversation whether you have a blog or not!  We would love to hear from you!  Also, don't forget to check out the BRAND NEW Whole Brain Teaching Website!

Okay, lets get started!  So ... I have to say this book is so amazing and if you do not have it yet, please click here to order your copy today!  No matter what or where you teach, this book WILL transform your class and your career!

Chapters 1 & 2 are mostly about the basics of WBT ~ the BIG 7!
Since I blog A LOT about my WBT Journey, for some of these, I am going to link back to previous posts with information about each strategy!

#1 & 6 ~ Class/Yes & Hands and Eyes
If you have started Class/Yes you are on your way to teaching heaven!  This is the basic attention getter that WBT uses.  You say CLASS and your class responds with a big loud unison YES.... THEN, they are silent and eyes are on you!  My biggest advice for this is to practice this as much as you can and do not accept a Class/Yes that does not have all students ready to listen afterwards!  Use the scoreboard (#4) to help you practice this!  Also, in Chapter 4, we will get into more of the FUNTRICITY you can add to your class/yes to keep it working ALL YEAR LONG!

Use Hands & Eyes as an attention getter for your REALLY BIG POINTS and there are some fun games in the proceeding chapters for this strategy as well!

#2 ~ The 5 Rules & the Diamond
In Chapter 2, Coach B talks about each rule and then provides steps for implementation.  I was fortunate enough to work with Coach to create this short rules video with gestures that you can actually show to your students when you are introducing or practicing the rules!  This is especially helpful if you are still learning them as well!

Here are the rules posters that I use in my classroom.  You can get these (and other versions) for free on my Google Drive!

Coach says "Students open their books slowly because we never teach them how to open their books quickly!"  I love this!  He recommends (and I agree) teaching this rule immediately and practicing it over and over!  Last year, I introduced this on the 1st day of school when we were organizing and putting away school supplies!  Coach also talks about the three-peat... I used this last year as well and I love it!  I say "Math Journals please!" and students reply "Math Journals, Math Journals, Math Journals" AND THEN they open their desks to take out their Math Journals... and they do it QUICKLY!

A new idea I have not heard before is that Coach says when a student is ready, they put both hands in the air, wiggle their fingers, and murmur "yea" as a celebration until YOU sweep your hands across the air!  This helps the students who might be a little slower!  
How FUN is this?!

Rules 2 & 3 are also introduced right away and should be practiced as much as possible (Coach says at least 5 times a day).  So when a student talks out, you say Rule #2 and the class replies RAISE YOUR HAND FOR PERMISSION TO SPEAK (with gestures).  This is how you rehearse all the rules and will save you so much valuable time in the classroom!  

I just love Coach's idea to practice the wrong way and the right way.  All students LOVE the opportunity to break a rule!  Why not give it to them and let them do it before they try to do it on their own!  This works so well!

I love that Coach reminds us to teach our students what smart choices are and not just that this is a rule!  He says that many students will reply that their choice was smart and we can respond by saying, "Okay.  But what would be a smarter choice?"  --- I LOVE IT!

This year (2016), Coach also added the Character Education Values that go along with Rule 4!  You can see them all with the gestures in my video above.  

The Character Education Values are:
Invincible Grit

Here is a video from Coach with Character Education...

Okay, this rule practice might be my favorite!  Coach says that when you are rehearsing this rule, you should call on a student to role play with you and actually let them backtalk you!  How awesome is this for the students?!  Especially those beloved rascals, right?  Show the students what behaviors will keep (NOT MAKE) their teacher happy and what behaviors will not!  Practice and role play!

Finally.... the DIAMOND RULE!

I love this rule!  Keep your eyes on the target please.... stop those wandering eyes which lead to wandering minds with this simple, fun rule!  Coach says you can introduce this rule whenever you feel necessary!  Again, role play examples of wrong way and right way and this time, let students be the teacher when the other students are practicing the wrong way so they know what it feels like when YOU are teaching & the students are looking every which way!  

I love using this rule when someone walks in the room and has something to say to the class.  Not sure if this happens in your schools but it did in mine!  The principal, guidance counselor, visitor, etc walks in the room and all I had to say was "Class Class! Diamond Rule!" and I had all eyes on the speaker and a quiet class ready to listen!  Any admin is going to LOVE you for this!

#3, 5, 7 ~ Mirror Words, Teach Okay, & Switch
Coach talks about casual gestures and memory gestures when you are using mirror words.  I love this because we use gestures ALL the time but it is helpful to know the difference.  Memory gestures are the gestures linked to CORE CONCEPTS & casual gestures are ones you use in mini-lessons (I refer to them as the ones the students or I make up on the spot)!

Teach Okay is my personal favorite and I love how Coach says this is the alternative to the traditional and "weary" think-pair-share.  Its so true!  My students are so much more excited to teach when they get to clap, snap, stomp, yell, etc before they do!  ***FUNTRICITY IS KEY HERE!***  

He also says that you might be concerned about giving students "thinking time" which for some reason, has been a big push in my district lately!  Think time, wait time, etc....  Coach says when we give them that time, we have no way to actually tell what they are thinking about!  And I know as an adult learner, if I am given wait time, I am definitely not on task!  When we use Teach Okay, they are essentially thinking out loud and can have their neighbor help them.  This way we also have a way of knowing what the student is thinking about because they are saying it!  

Here is a quick video of one of my students using WBT Strategies to teach the class...

Switch is another favorite of mine but I feel that my little firsties definitely need practice and reminders that even when they are not teaching, they are still mirroring their partner's gestures!  100% engagement 100% of the time! TEACHER HEAVEN!

#4 ~ Scoreboard
I am updating my blog post on HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR CLIP CHART and scoreboard is a huge part of the process!  You can see my blog post about this by clicking HERE!

Chapter 3 has some really fun ways to keep the funtricity in your scoreboard so look for that blog post coming soon!  

I hope you find this blog post helpful if you are just starting out with WBT!  Don't give up on it and don't get stuck at CLASS YES!  
If you have this book too and would like to link up with us, please comment below!  We would love to get more WBT Teachers on board!  Don't forget to check out First Grade Frame of Mind to hear her take on the first 2 chapters!