Yes, I admit I am a terrible excuse for a blogger, but just from today’s experiences I could probably write about 10 posts... so please excuse the long length! Today was SO exciting. I have to say it took some mental adjusting to teach 6th grade, although I was excited to teach many of my old students. I have taught about 75% of the students in a prior grade, but only a third of the 6th graders have had me while using WBT. This year is very different for me because it is my first year not being self- contained! I teach Science and Geography to a little over 90 students within 3 classes that are grouped as Below Level, Basic, and Advanced. Everyone may have their own opinion on homogenous grouping, but I must say that within each group there are still many different levels, and I get to teach one lesson in three different ways that work most directly to each student’s level!
Today I didn’t even teach any subject matter, I was simply guided by my WBT First Day Agenda. Even though I used the same Agenda posted on the board with each class, it was carried out very differently with each group. In every class there were at least 5-10 people who were my students last year, so I was able to move along a lot more smoothly because there was pressure to get up to their levels. Here was my “Playlist” for the day, and how I taught each technique in my classes.
Students were taught to fold their hands as soon as they had the “YES” response down packed. I attempted many different variations with difference voices and sound levels. I didn’t introduce this with the Scoreboard, but encouraged with "That was pretty good!” or “We can get more crisp than that 6th grade!”
2. Complete Sentence
I began asking random students what they did this summer, after explaining that ALL things must be stated in a complete sentence. I tried to trick some of them by changing the questions slightly, so they really tried their best to focus and answer in a complete sentence each time!
3. Rule #1:FOLLOW DIRECTIONS IMMEDIATELY and 3-Peat
I taught Rule #1 with a “Repeat after me:” since Mirrors weren’t introduced yet. . We practiced, “Get in Line”, “Get in your seats”, “Backs straight up” and “Papers In”. I created a “PR” section on the board with each class listed. Each class I had got faster simply because they knew the time to beat and they were SUPER competitive! My last class got in line in 14 seconds, the second class was right in the middle, and the first class got in line in 17 seconds.
I remember when I first started WBT I was always so conscious of keeping the points within 3. With the art of ping ponging in my pocket, today I was always within 3 with every class, without being mindful of it! I averaged 8-10 on each side with each class that as about 75 minutes long. I created a “Bragging Box” on the board to display who had beat, tied or lost against the teacher! They were told the only reward was bragging rights but were teased with possible future rewards, but only if they got really good! Having my classes compete against each other seems to be totally working!
Students from other classes who had seen last year’s videos wanted to say, “SWAG!” or “BALLIN!” when they got a point but I told them they have to build up their WBT swag first J We stuck with the usual, “OH YEAH!” with the clap but we did keep “OH NO!” with the Home Alone slap on the face for a teacher point!
“When I say ‘mirrors’, you say ‘mirrors’ and put your hands out in front of you and follow all of my movements exactly as if you were a mirror!” To be fun I did some of my signature (bad) dance moves to warm them up each time! I was really animated and had them repeat some pretty silly things to get them laughing.
6. Mirrors with 5 Rules CALL OUT
Next, I had them mirror me and repeat each rule. I said, “Mirrors away” after adding in one more rule at a time and then had students stop and practice breaking the rule. I then taught students how to “Call each other out” when students were breaking rules. I’d have a student get out of their seat without asking and then I’d say, “Rule number 3!” and everyone would respond, “ Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat!” and the student would go back and raise his/her hand. I called on my most disruptive and/or popular students to demonstrate for this! I always find that the best way to get everyone to Buy-In. Remember, our most difficult students just want attention in the first place!
7. Teach- Okay
I asked students if they thought they all knew their rules and then told them it was time for them to become the teacher and teach each other the rules. At this point I had energy levels so high from using the Scoreboard and rule practice, they were ready to try and outdo me! We first practiced the routine Clap Clap “Teach!” while they responded with 2 claps and an “Okay!” Next I told them to face their neighbor and then face me. I did this a few times, quickly stating, “FACE YOUR NEIGHBOR! FACE ME! FACE YOUR NEIGHBOR! FACE ME!” They found this to be pretty amusing but they started laughing hysterically when I showed them they looked like they had chicken necks when they didn’t fully turn their bodies when facing their neighbor. I then had them face their neighbor lightening fast with a full turn and their hands ready in the air to gesture. Once this was super crisp, I had them teach each rule to each other without stopping until I called them back. During this time I could have FAINTED! The energy was so ridiculously high, I didn’t even have to tell them to use big gestures! In one class I told them they had to “Give a Smilie in order to get a Smilie.” This encouraged them to look like they were having even more oodles of fun in order to get a point. Remember, FUN is the key to student learning! (I did not do Teach-Okay with my lowest group because I made sure to keep a slower pace and use repitition a lot more than my other groups. I will teach it tomorrow.
8. Hands and Eyes
I told them that when I have a REALLY important point, I use Hands and Eyes to wake them up out of La La Land. I teased them saying that when something is super important I might just have to take my hat or sunglasses off!
9. Oral Writing with Names
With my lowest group, I started with a very simple sentence frame using oral punctuation, “My name is ________.” I modeled it using the gesture for a capital letter and a period. I had a handful of students who could not speak English or understand a word of what I was saying in the beginning of class, and by the end of class were able to proudly say, (while using oral punctuation!) “My name is ____.” I was so excited by their enthusiasm used while capitalizing the first word of the sentence and their name and also the “EERRRRT” for the period! I had EVERY single student stand up and say this to introduce their names, so my ELL speakers were very focused to make sure they knew what they had to say! The entire class of 30 is almost entirely made up of students with IEPS or ELLs, so this was quite an accomplishment. I have to be honest and say I thought this class would be my largest challenge, but I only had to redirect a few of them! The ones who usually have a reputation for not staying focused seemed so overjoyed that they were actually encouraged to move around and actually speak during class! I honestly saw the benefit of homogenous grouping when I noticed that the usually shy students were visibly more confident in front of students they often had seen in their Resource or ELL classes.
In my Advanced class, I had everyone stand up and give a Triple Whammy sentence about themselves! “My name is ________ and I enjoy __________, ____________, and _____________. I explained Clinkers, and even had them provide a few of their own after I modeled some. I have some real characters in this class so they had everyone keeling over with their sentences about liking fuzzy penguins, and singing in the shower. Again, I had no resistance with standing up and stating their Whammy to the class because they felt the pressure from peers they have probably always felt in competition with.
At the very end of the day I had my middle group. Ah, and I thought I’d end my day rebel- free. This class had the most trouble makers- mostly boys! Buying them in was actually easy after using them to practice breaking rules. Once I showed them my Bragging Box on the board, the most notoriousely difficult student raised his hand and said, “Ms. Cruz, excuse me I need to speak to this class, cuz I am their leader. I am competitive so we need to be the best class!” Then he simply sat down and folded his hands. Gasp. Only one student in the class refused to participate at all. What did I do, you ask? I ignored the student. I have something new in my back pocket that I will use on that special someone starting tomorrow. I needed to give my time and energy to the students who WERE participating and not focus on the ONE who wouldn’t. I KNOW this is hard, especially when you throw in eye rolling which is my ULTIMATE trigger, but I am not concerned in the least bit! Did you happen to notice the increase in my shouting words?! J If you’d like to hear more about it STAY TUNED !!!
**********************Overall it was an amazing day filled with moments of Teacher Heaven. Many might think I did too much on the first day, or not enough, but my students really responded to it in a positive way. Tomorrow I will actually jump into teaching World Cultures/Geography with some WBT Pizzazz! I can’t wait !