Sunday, April 6, 2014

Plant Lab Book

My students have been learning about plant life cycles. Last week we did a KWL (know, want to know, learned) chart on the board with post its. It went great! #1- They love using post it notes. #2- Any movement is good in my classroom, I have a few wiggle worms! However, I was surprised at some of the things they wanted to know. I was planning on planting seeds with them this week, anyways, but their curiosity spurred my plans in a different direction. Three of the things that intrigued me were: will plants grow if there is only a flashlight and no sun, will plants still grow if you give them root beer instead of water, and my favorite, will plants explode if they don't have sunlight? All great questions!!

So, rather than just growing plants next week, we will be experimenting, using those three questions as our variables. Some of the students will plant their seeds and stick it in a cabinet (testing the exploding theory-no sunlight), some will put it under our sink with a flashlight, some will plant them regularly, and others will give it root beer instead of water. So in order for us to track our findings, I created a cute little plant observation booklet. You can see thumbnails of what it looks like here. If you are a blog reader and want this file, I will email it to you for free until the end of April. Just shoot me an email (brandicriminger[at]yahoo[dot]com) and let me know you want it! After that, you can get it at my teachers pay teacher store for $1.99.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Something New- Whole Brain

I have lots of pictures that I have taken of various activities in our classroom, I'm hoping to post those with descriptions soon. The delay has been the process by which it takes to get the pictures. I take them with my (non-smart) phone, message them to my husband, steal his phone and his computer (a difficult task, if you know my husband), transfer them to his computer and upload them. But, I received an amazing camera for Christmas, so this process is about to become a million times (or at least a hundred times) easier!

Nevertheless, I wanted to write a blog post about a book I've been reading. Now, I just got it a couple days ago, so I'm not too far in, but so far it has been amazing! I first learned (kind of, really more like discussed) of Whole Brain Teaching from another teacher. She is amazing, and that more than anything else, is what inspired me to actually read the book. Don't get me wrong, I love reading. I just enjoy reading fiction more than non-fiction; it has to be pretty intriguing for me to desire to read nonfiction. She is currently working on becoming Whole Brain Teaching Certified. Part of that process involves her creating a blog, with videos of her teaching. You can find her amazingness here: That'll Teach 'Em. You should check it out.

The basic premise is scientific. If you are using multiple parts of the brain at the same time (much of this involves making sure students are actively involved in learning and I'm not just talking to them-at least that is what I've gleaned so far). if their brain is occupied in several areas, they don't have the ability to think of creative things to do to be distractions, because they are completely and wholly engaged in learning~doesn't that sound like the dream?! What I like most of all (so far) is tat in addition to telling you what to do, it offers "scripts" on how to introduce it to the students. Not that I used the exact script, but it gave me an idea about what is important to tell them verses what is "for me to know".

So, I've only begun, but day one of implementing the 5 rules I saw a significant change in my "naughties". Beforehand, we had discussed the school rules: be respectful, responsible and ready to learn. We had talked about what each of those meant at the beginning of the year. By mid-year and after reading the "rules" section of Whole Brain Teaching, I realized my kiddos need precise rules as well as a couple broad ones. The precise ones are, "raise your hand to speak and get out of your seat" and "follow directions quickly". The others are, "make smart choices" and, "make your dear teacher happy". I love that it calls me dear :) These 'blanket statements' can cover anything from hurtful words to not sitting correctly on the rug.

I had multiple students who would get up and wonder around the classroom. Some in "the name of getting a pencil" whether they needed one or not and others just in avoidance of work. While I could tell them to sit down before, they were getting sneaky smart. They often were seated and working until another classmate needed assistance and I went to help them. The rules about raising your hand have always been in place, but having a poster to point to that specifically states the rule and a rule number to refer to worked wonders today in my classroom. Granted, it is only the first day, but I was so pleased to see them working and not getting up for useless things or to avoid work. I hope the "magic" continues.

I'm excited to continue to learn new ways to engage multiple parts of the brain and see how it works in a real-life classroom setting. The research behind it is astounding, I can only hope it proves true for my kiddos and helps me become a better teacher.