Thursday, August 9, 2012

Brain Bubbles and Task Cards

Brain Bubble Station
The Brain Bubble Station is one of the choices available to students who finish work early.  Located on a small table with a couple of chairs, the students will find a bucket or two of brain bubbles and recording notebooks.

What are Brain Bubbles?
Brain bubbles are clear plastic containers that you usually see inside a gumball machine with little toys/trinkets.  However, inside these capsules called "Brain Bubbles" a task card.  Each Brain Bubble is numbered and color coded if you wish to separate skill sets.

The student opens up a brain bubble and records the following things on the brain bubble recording sheet notebook provided next to the bucket. 
  • number/color of brain bubble chosen
  • task card question or prompt
  • student response
The recording sheet helps to keep track of which brain bubbles the student has already accomplished, as well as keeping a record to check the answers.  A free printable can be found here at Learning is a Hoot.  Once the student has successfully completed 18 brain bubbles they are rewarded a class clam.

What are Task Cards?
Task cards are a great way for students to work independently by being prompted with a set of activities to complete or questions to answer.  You could make your own to go along with your exact curriculum, or you can purchase sets from Mailbox or other places...even find freebies offed by other teachers who have created them.  There are so many resources to choose from and many of them free.  Check out these Pinterest pages for  Task Cards or Brain Bubbles for tons great ideas.

Click here to view full size *Some task cards review a very specific skill set, so I choose to keep them together instead of put them individually into a brain bubble.  This way I can review with the kids easily by picking up the set off the hook, instead of searching through lots of bubbles to find what I am looking for...I love the game Scoot (see below)  I hole punch the cards in the upper corner and put them together on a binder ring.  

These task card sets hang on a command hook inside the brain bubble bucket, and the students record them the same way as brain bubbles.  One task card set as equal to 18 brain bubbles.  One set of task cards earns one class clam.
Using Task Cards for Review Game
Another FUN way these task card sets can be used is to play a great class review game called SCOOT. One task card is placed on each student desk and the students are given recording sheets (or a regular sheet of paper that the student numbers.)  The students start out by sitting at their own desk and answering the task card on their desk and filling in their recording sheet.  Every 1-3 minutes (time depends on the review cards) a signal is sounded and the students “scoot” to the next desk with their recording sheet to answer a new task card.  Kids have so much fun reviewing!

Students who finish early

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Cute Ocean Themed Finished Early Octopus from CampCrawford on Shutterfly

One of the most commonly asked questions teachers hear in the classroom is, "What do I do now?"  With this system, the students who finish early are able to look up at the Finished Early condiments board to easily find the answer.
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These great visual aids can be found at Sparklebox and Teach-a Roo 

Here is how it works:  All students start out each week with their names listed under pickles.  If the student doesn't turn in an assignment, their name is moved under the ketchup and the assignment needed is listed under mustard.  If these students finish early, then they “must do” that assignment to “catch up”.  If the student is finished early and is still listed under the pickle, then they “may do” any one of the following independent work.
  • Read independently, take AR test, visit the library
  • Write in Student Writing Journal
  • Finished Early Binder 
  • Task Card/Brain Bubbles Bucket 
  • Complete Classroom Boggle game of the week
  This cute schedule card is from The First Grade Parade

Students are rewarded for accomplishing these extra “May do” goals by earning class clams to be redeemed at our Class Buried Treasure for Reward Coupons each Friday. (see my post about that HERE)

These are the things that earns 1 Class Clam:
  • 1 completed Boggle Game Recording Sheet
  • 5 completed pages in finished early binder
  • Completed recording sheet for a Task Card Set
  • Completed recording sheet for Brain Bubbles
  • Exceeding their weekly AR points goal
  • 5 extra (not assigned) journal entries

Class Reward System

Our Class Reward System rewards students for GREAT behavior and putting forth their BEST effort in all areas. Students have a chance to earn “class clams” all week and a chance to spend them (or save for later) each Friday. 

Various ways students can earn a class clam
  • Students who end the day on green on the clip chart earn 1 class clam,  blue=2 clams, purple=3 clams, and pink=4 clams.
  • Students who complete the “finished early” tasks earn a class clam.
  • Students who exceeds their weekly AR points goal earns a class clam
  • Students who get a compliment from another teacher, staff, or visitor earn a class clam.

* How students will NOT be earning class clams: 
I do not reward students who must be asked or bribed to do what is expected.   You will not see me offering “Johnny” a chance to earn a class clam if he will just stop talking and finish his work.  Nor will you hear me bribe a student with a class clam to stop hitting, screaming, etc.  It is expected that the students follow all the class rules (see below) and the students will quickly find that they are missing out on great rewards when they choose not to follow the expectations.  Instead of bribery, I quietly and calmly move their clip down one notch on the clip chart as needed, and continue on with our class instruction.  It is positive behavior and academic excellence that gets rewarded, not disruptive behavior or slacking off.  Students will rise to the expectations and start looking for the positive ways to be rewarded.  Below are the simple and very achievable expectations for all my students.
     Our Class Rules:
1.   Follow Directions Quickly.
2.   Raise your hand for permission to speak.
3.   Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
4.   Make smart choices.
5.  Keep your dear teacher happy. (This is just a catch all rule…for example:  Johnny wants to bring in a rock from the playground.  There is no rule that bringing a rock into a classroom would be breaking, but we do not need a rock in the classroom…so, “No, sorry Johnny.  Bringing a rock into class will not keep me happy-which would break Rule #5.  Let’s leave the rock outside.  That would make me happy. Thank you, Johnny.”)
Redeeming the class clams:

Every Friday, the students will have a chance to spend their class clams, or they can choose to save them for a chance to get a big reward coupon at a later date.    My class reward system is not made up of candy and toys, but made up of a treasure chest filled with reward couponsThese reward coupons are laminated and will be used year after year.  No consumable goods in my treasure box to eat up my paycheck.  (Although, I do have to say that one of the reward coupons allows you to get a piece of candy out of the candy jar…but we are talking about single pieces of candy like a skittle, a jelly bean, or one M&M, etc. …so it will not put a huge hole in my pocket)

Once they redeem their class clams for a reward coupon, it is their responsibility to keep up with it and turn it in to me the day they would like to use it.  I do not keep a list of who gets what coupon.  If they lose the reward coupon, they cannot redeem it.  *This teaches the students to be held accountable for their things…an added bonus* 

Here is a list of the reward coupons found in the treasure box and how many clams it will take to buy the reward coupon:

For 2 Class Clams:
  • Sweet Tooth (pick a treat from the candy jar)
For 5 Class Clams:
  • Be a Proud Read Aloud (bring a book and read aloud to class)
  • Show and Tell (bring something special to share with class)
For 10 Class Clams:
  • Line Jumper (jump to any spot in the line)
  • Pet Shop (bring a stuffed animal to sit at your desk for a day)
For 15 Class Clams:
  • Stinky Feet (take off your shoes for an entire day)
  • Silly Slippers or Flip Flop Fun (wear slippers or flip flops in class)
  • Cool Cat in A Hat (wear a hat all day)
For 20 Class Clams:
  • Lunch with a Bud (sit with any friend at lunch)
  • Super Duper Supplies (use any writing center supplies for extra special work)
For 30 Class Clams:
  • No Homework Pass (take one night off)
  • Hungry? (eat lunch with teacher)
For 50 Class Clams:
  •  Teachers Desk (sit at teacher’s desk for the day) 
There are tons of reward coupon ideas that you can find online.  Two of my favorite places that have the most adorable coupons (offering free printables-there are a few below) are found at First Grade Fever and Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations

    Sunday, August 5, 2012

    Whole Brain Teaching

    I have fallen in love with Whole Brain Teaching methods.  If you are not familiar with style of teaching, please click watch the video clips at the end of this post for a peek into classroom teachers using the whole brain teaching methods.  It is amazing to see the level of student engagement!  Here are the basics for starting out.

    Whole Brain Teaching has 5 classroom rules: 
    These super cute posters are from 3rd Grade Thoughts
    She has amazing printables and great information on WBT as well.
    Display the rules where students can clearly see them. The class rehearses these rules daily: first thing in the morning, after lunch, and after recess/specials.  This is upbeat and entertaining as the kids make fun gestures with each rule, and reciting them in a variety of voices and tempos, sometimes with a student leading the review.  You can see an example of a classroom doing this in the video at the end of the post.  The brain learns in five ways, by seeing, saying, hearing, doing and feeling.  The students' brains see the signs, hear the rules, say the rules and make the gestures.  And being upbeat and entertaining in presentation, students will also have the lovely feeling of having fun.  Thus...whole brain teaching begins :)

    Whole Brain Teaching Core Techniques:
    1. Bring the class together ("Class-Yes" and "Hands & Eyes")
    2. Keep them motivated (Scoreboard)
    3. Get them active (Mirror)
    4. Build community and be accountable for their learning (Teach-Okay)
    1. "Class- Yes" and "Hands & Eyes"
    When you need full student engagement, use a classic call and response management technique.  Call out "Class" to which the students call back, "Yes".  The fun part is that they mimic the way the teacher says "class".  For instance, if I said "class" in a high sing song voice, then they repeat "yes" in that same manner.  If I whisper it, they whisper back.  Use variety and humor with this.  The students love this technique, plus it is simple and very effective! 
    Now, if it is a super important fact of information that you really need them to pay attention to,  follow the "Class-Yes" with saying "Hands and Eyes".  The students then fold their hands together, and all eyes are looking intently at the teacher.  Only when you have their full attention do you proceed with the information.

    2. Scoreboard
    The scoreboard reinforces whole class positive behavior in a fun, upbeat, positive environment.  The class gets a tally mark on the smiley face side of the scoreboard if they are following directions quickly, doing well on a task, or any other positive behavior you want to encourage.  However, if the class needs to do better at something, the frowny face side of the scoreboard gets a point.  The good news is that the students get a chance to do the poorly executed procedure over again to earn the point for the smiley side.  The key to this motivator is to keep the tallies within three points. This will ensure that kids stay motivated to get win the prize at the end of the day.  Prizes include a variety of things such as extra minutes of recess, fun brain breaks, packing up early to have a 3 minute dance party, and other fun things.  
    Clipchart (this one is not from whole brain teaching)
    The scoreboard method works to motivate the whole group, but to manage individual behavior you can use a clip chart.  The clip chart is divided into 7 colored sections and each day the student's clip starts out on green. Good choices enable them to move up on the clip chart and poor choices will cause them to move down.  If they make it to the top pink section, they get to add a jewel to their clip.  If they move to the yellow level on our clip chart, they lose 5 minutes of recess to practice saying and making the gestures of the rule they broke.  Moving to orange is 10 minutes of practice.  Moving to red, the Parent Contact section, means they will miss the whole recess to fill out a behavior reflection to take home for mom and dad to see and sign. All students on green, blue, purple, or pink at the end of the day earn a reward.

    3.  Mirror
     As you introduce a new concept to the students, hold up both hands palms facing out and say "Mirror".  Students become mirrors and mimic all the gestures you make as you teach them.  Mirrors don't talk, so the focus is on their motor and visual cortex's, linking the movement to their learning.  If you do want them to repeat your words, then say "Mirror with Words" holding both palms out then bring your hands to your mouth and students will repeat "Mirror with Words" and not only echo the words you say but also mimic the gestures you make.  This adds the engagement of their Broca and Wernicke Areas of the brain.  Not only are they listening, but they are active and moving.

    4.  Teach-Okay!
    Divide the students into pairs at the beginning of the year and assign them as #1s and #2s.  Once you have introduced a new concept, to see if students have grasped what they need to know, clap and say "Teach"  The students will clap and reply, "Okay!"  The #1's will turn to their #2 partner and teach the concept using gestures while #2 mirrors the gestures, then at some point you may call out "Switch" and then the 2's will teach and gesture while #1's mirror the gestures, and this will continue until you call them back with Class-Yes.  As they teach each other the teacher walks around and listen to see if students have grasped the concept, and what you may need to clarify as we come back together. 

    For more information, PLEASE visit the WBT website, or google whole brain teaching or power teaching.  The results really are amazing.

    Here is a look into a classroom following these classroom management techniques.

    Here is another video of a whole brain teaching classroom reviewing the rules:

    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    Make a Difference

    One of my passions in life is to make a difference.  To some that may mean big mission trips, fame, or a huge impact in the world.  It would be nice to have a huge heartwarming story where an entire class or group is those movies on TV where a teacher comes in and everyone's lives are better for it.  That would be a wonderful thing, but most of the time that is not reality.  Having a passion to make a difference as a teacher may make you frustrated when you look at the struggling students, those who may be slipping through the cracks. However, I always come back to the Starfish Story and am inspired that even if I only touch one life...that is all the difference for me!

    The Starfish Story
    Two men were walking toward each other on an otherwise deserted beach.  One man was young, the other much older.  The smooth damp sand was littered with starfish, washed onto the land during high tide.  They were stranded there when the tide ebbed.  Thousands of starfish were doomed to die in the hot morning sun.

    As they came near one another the younger man watched the older man bend down and pick up a starfish one at a time and gently toss them back into the ocean, giving them a chance to survive.  The young man thought, "How foolish.  Why does he bother, he can't save them all."  He felt compelled to point out to the older man the futility in his action.  "You know that you can't save them all.  Most of them will die here on the sand.  What you are doing really won't make a difference at all."  

    The older man studied the young man for a moment. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish and tossed it into the water.  He smiled at the young man and said, "It made a difference to that one."  Then he walked on, picking up one starfish at a time and tossing them back into the sea. 
    One of my favorite quotes is from Helen Keller: " I am only one; but still I am one.  
    I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do." 

    Ocean Commotion

    My classroom theme will be Mrs. Waters' Ocean Commotion...Sea of Learning.   My two main colors that I will use throughout the room will be aqua blue and lime green, making these colors pop with a few black backgrounds, and pink and orange accents.  I will incorporate polka dots, and cute sea creatures galore. I have already started to collect adorable stuffed sea creatures and of course...collecting great ideas on my Pinterest page here.

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    Here are a few of my favorite ideas that I plan to do.  Just click on the picture to go to the source.

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    I just love the look of black bookcases or black bulletin boards with aqua and lime popping out.  My plan is to designate one subject to one board area (like the math board above)
    Those baskets in the black bookcase are from the dollar tree...very affordable!
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    Student will sit as groups, each table (or grouping of desks) will be assigned a sea creature
     using more aqua and teal baskets from the dollar tree.
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    I love these sea life numbers.  (They go up to 20)  I will be using these as number line display along the top of the wall.  I plan to display them using this idea of creating a faux bulletin board space.
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    Click here to view full sizeCute ribbons and clothespins document how students get home.  Could also do this with lunch choices or center choices.  I love the simplicity of the system!

    My classroom management system will combine Whole Brain Teaching methods along with the Clip Chart method. I love this ocean themed clip chart. Love the themed wording!

    Another management tool I will be using is this fish bowl- I will hand out "Caught Ya Being Good" slips during the day to reinforce positive behavior.  Students write their name on the slip & put in fish bowl. If I need a teacher helper or anything at all, I will draw a slip out of the fish bowl. At the end of each month, I will draw out 6 names and those 6 students get to eat lunch in the classroom with teacher, and I bring a special treat!

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    These aren't exactly decorations for my room, but they are adorable! Ocean themed Open House brochure to hand out to parents at Open House with all kinds of information for the year.  Procedures, supplies needed, contact info, etc.

    This second form is an ocean themed weekly newsletter offered on Teachers Notebook.

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    Look at this cute door...Kids pictures in the submarine's portholes.  Love it!
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    The beginning of a new chapter

    {place a scan of my parapro yearbook pic here} 
    My name is Kathryn Waters.  I am currently attending Georgia Southern University to earn my Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education.   I am not your typical college student.  I am a mom of two in my 30's, happily married for 12 years to my high school sweetheart!  My husband and I have worked with children all our adult lives.  We have directed summer camps, taught Sunday schools and bible studies, directed VBS, etc.  We worked together as paid staff at Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church as the Youth and Activity Directors in 2005-2007.  I have been a substitute teacher in Bulloch County schools since 2005, educated my children as a home school mother for 3 years, and most recently was a paraprofessional for the 1st grade teachers at Stilson Elementary in 2011-2012.  I have a passion for working with children and am very excited to be continuing my education to become a teacher.  This website will allow me to build my online portfolio as I begin my teaching field experience.