Saturday, September 15, 2012

WBT Mini Conference

Wow, what a morning.  I spent the morning at Southeast Missouri State University where Staci Glass and I held a mini conference covering the Core Four along with the Big Seven in WBT.  What's the Core Four, you ask?  They are the essentials needed to make your classroom a WBT classroom.  They consist of the following:

The Class-Yes
The Scoreboard

If you have these components in place, you are well on your way to achieving "teacher heaven".  You can learn all about the Core Four by watching the recorded web cast on the WBT website:

If you are in or near Southeast Missouri (Cape Girardeau) come on down to the next mini conference.  The topic Staci and I will be covering is the Super Improver Wall along with the next steps in classroom management.  The conferences are always on Saturday from 9:00 - 12:00.  This one will be October 13, 2012.  You can register on My Learning Plan.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Final Strategies from Day I , WBT Conference in Jackson, MO

Red and Green Writing, OH YEAH!
Red and Green writing was next up on the agenda.  This is going to make teaching writing skills so much easier.  Red/Green writing is taught in steps.  You decide what skills you want to focus on.  These skills might include: neatness, word spacing, end marks, capitalization, sentence length, indenting, paragraph length, sentence variety, adjectives, staying on topic, and on and on. 
You focus on one skill at a time to begin with.  For example, you may decide to begin by focusing on neatness.  So you tell your first graders that for the next five minutes they are going to write.  You may give them a topic or not, your choice.  You tell them that they are to keep writing for five minutes.  If they run out of something to say then they can write the same thing over again until five minutes are up.  You go around looking at their papers with a green and red marker.  You mark their neatest word with a green dot and their messiest word with a red dot.  You may stay with the skill of neatness for a couple of weeks before moving to another skill.  The goal is to have more green dots (neater words) over time.  This is also a great time to use the Super Improver wall.  As their writing becomes neater and neater, they are improving, so stars are given.
Critical thinking comes in to the process as your skills get harder.  Say you’re working on sentence variety.  You place a red dot on a sentence your student wrote, and a green dot on another sentence.  They will have to figure out why the green one is demonstrating good sentence variety and how to make the red one better.  They may do this on their own or with a conference either with you or a partner.  As time goes on, you may have the students mark their own paper with a red/green dot telling you why they chose what to mark in the way they did.  You may also have then paired up with partners who will mark one red dot and one green dot on each other’s paper focusing on the skill you assigned.
I was really excited about this.  I think it will make our job so much easier, and make it easier for the students to focus on what they can do to improve.  The way we tend to score writing now is too overwhelming for them.  They don’t know where to start to improve.  This solves that problem!
Until next time,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Great Strategies form Day 1 WBT Conference in Jackson, MO

From the “Core Four” we went on to the many components of reading.  WBT is very strong in this area.  We covered Rhyming Reader, Biffytunes, SuperSpeed Rhymes, Super Speed Letters and Phonics, SuperSpeed 100, and SuperSpeed 1000.  All of these are explained in eBooks on  Most of these are available in electronic versions on the website as well.

I especially like the critical thinking part using the “Because Clapper” and the “Problem Solver”. The Because Clapper is just what it sounds like.  When students respond to a question such as “Why did the Rough-Faced Girl think she could not marry the Invisible Being?”  The students would respond, “The Rough-Faced Girl thought that she could not marry the invisible being because, (when they say the word because, they clap their hands) she was not pretty enough.”

When using the “Problem Solver” the students act as if they are unlocking a door.  They state the problem and their solution to that problem.  An example might be the question, “What should Goldilocks have done differently when she came upon the Three Bears home?”  The students would “unlock” the problem as they restated it and gave a possible solution to their partner.

From there we moved on to the Super Improvers Wall.  This is one of my favorite strategies from WBT.  There is a web cast on the website that explains this as well as a lot of discussion on the forum.  I strongly recommend you spending time to learn about this.  It is a very easy way to reward effort on the part of your students.  It can be used to reward positive improvements in behavior, academics, social skills, and the list goes on and on.

I’ll finish up Day 1 conference strategies next time.
Happy summer,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Strategies from the Jackson, MO Conference - Day One June 26, 2012

I thought I would share some of the great strategies presented by Coach B  at our conference with you.  I'll focus on different parts of the conference with each blog.  My goal will be to share a different part of the conference with you each week throughout the summer until I have the conference covered.  (Hopefully I can get it all in before school starts.)  If you have ever been to a WBT conference with Coach B, you know how much is covered in a short amount of time.

Day one of the conference focused on Reading.  We began with the “Core Four” which are, Class-Yes, Teach-Okay, Scoreboard, and Mirror.

The Class-Yes is the attention getter for your class.  You use Class-Yes all day every day, but it never gets old.  You spice it up by saying “Class” in a variety of ways.  Then your student’s respond back by saying “Yes” in the same manner in which you said “Class”.  “Class-Yes is used by everyone in the school where I teach.  We have adapted it to school wide assemblies by saying “Jackson” to which the entire school responds “Indians”.  It works great!!

The Teach-Okay is the activator.  After you have their attention with the Class-Yes, you speak briefly, clap twice, and say “teach”.  The students clap twice, say “okay”, and then begin to teach whatever you have just said.  It keeps everyone on track.  While they are teaching, you do comprehension checks by listening and watching the groups.  During this time you will quickly prompt or praise before calling the class back and continuing.

The Mirror unifies the class.  It has everyone doing the same thing at the same time.  You hold up your hands and say “mirror”.  The students then mirror your gestures.  There are three variations of “Mirror”.  They are:  Mirror, Mirror-Words, and Magic Mirror.  When using “Mirror” the students just mirror your gestures.  With “Mirror-Words” the students mirror your gestures and your words.  “Magic Mirror” is where the students make up their own gestures to go with your words.  All of these variations are powerful.

Coach B uses the Class-Yes along with the Mirror when asking questions.  If a student has a question, he/she says “Class” to which the class responds “Yes”.  He/she then says “Mirror” and every ones hands are up.  Now the whole class is listening to the student’s question instead of messing around.  This is a great strategy for keeping everyone focused on the lesson.

The Scoreboard is the motivator for your class.  This consists of a T-chart on your board with a smiley above one side and a frowny above the other.  Points are given as you determine.  When a “smiley” point is given, the class celebrates with a one second party by giving one clap and yelling “Oh, yeah!”  When a “frowny” point is given, the class lifts their shoulders and gives a mighty groan.  They are playing for very simple things, such as one minute more or less of recess.  The trick is to keep the points close, no more than three apart.

You need to make sure you use the core four in your WBT classroom continually.
This is just the beginning of day one.  More to come!
Happy summer,

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WBT - Summer 2012

We just completed two great days (June 26 & 27) with Chris Biffle in Jackson, MO.  Of course it was fast paced.  Of course it was fun.  Of course there were new strategies to share.  Of course we went home exhausted.  It wouldn’t have been a WBT conference presented by Coach B if it had gone any other way.  The teacher’s that I have talked to following that conference are all excited about implementing WBT in their classrooms with the start of the 2012-2013 school year.  I, too, am excited to try several of the new strategies Coach B shared with us.  In particular, I want to add the “speed” reading into the steps for reading comprehension and fluency. 

I’ll let everyone know how it goes when school starts.  Until then, check out the WBT calendar on the WBT website (, and look for upcoming conferences this summer in your area.  It is well worth your time.  It will change the way you teach!!

Happy summer,


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Super Improver Cards

On my last blog, I mentioned the Super Improver cards I was using with my small groups.  I see at least 11 groups of students a day ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade.  I teach reading, so we do a lot of work with comprehension and fluency.  I use the Super Improver cards to show improvement in any of these areas.  If my students beat their Super Speed record, they earn a star.  If they improve with their gesturing, they earn a star.  If they nail the critical thinking part of the lesson when they had been struggling, they earn a star. You get the idea. 

On the WBT forum I had several question about how I had adapted the Super Improver Wall to Super Improver Cards.  Actually, I had some help from my friend Staci Glass.  She was setting up her Super Improver wall for her third grade classroom.  We were trying to come up with a way to make this effective and, most importantly, easy for us.  She designed the cards.   They have worked great for me!  I travel from pod to pod at one of the elementary buildings I work in.  I have a very large easel type cart that I keep my supplies on.  On this cart, I have a small file box that has a folder inside for each group that I see.  When I meet with my group, I pull out their Super Improver cards.  We play Super Speed.  If they beat their record, they earn their star.  I let them choose the color star they want and place it on their card at whatever level they are on.  They have to have 10 stars on one level before they can move on to the next level.

I told them that at various times they will earn a special reward.  They won't know what it is or when it's coming.  (They seem to love the not knowing.)  I will do the picture suggestion, that Chris Biffle gave, at the end of the fourth level (40) stars.  I will take a photo of them with a friend making funny faces or whatever they would like that is appropriate.  Then the photo will be developed, brought back to school, and turned with the picture side against the inside on the album (Remember, I don't have walls.)  When five additional stars are earned and placed on the back of the photo, we will turn it around to share with all.  I will also occasionally give out additional surprises; such as, after 18 stars they get to play a learning game during our group time.  I don't want to give out the surprises at the end of levels, because that is what they expect.

This has been the most effective tool I have used to both manage behavior and keep students focused on doing better. 

Thanks WBT for, yet another, wonderful tool for our teaching tool belt.

Until next time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Busy Week

Well here it is 8:55 on Sunday night and I finally have a few minutes to share with you how last week went.

I am so happy about how my reading groups are working.  I teach Title I reading all morning.  I am at my K-3 building first thing, until about 9:30.  I'm supposed to leave there at 9:30, but I don't usually leave until around 9:45.  My first group at the 3-5 building begins at 10:05.  I follow the basic format that I lined out for you in a previous blog with each of these groups.  At my 3-5 building, I don't review the five classroom rules at the beginning of each group anymore.  I do those as needed.  We are working our way through the pacing charts using WBT all the way.

In the afternoons, I teach four RTI groups.  These groups have both Title students and non Title students.  These groups focus on fluency and comprehension.  I teach fluency one week and the next week we work on comprehension.  WBT works beautifully in these RTI groups.  Super Speed 100 and Super Speed 1000 are great to help build fluency.  The Crazy Professor is great to help build comprehension.  I want to add Prove It to my RTI strategies as well. 

The days fly by.  I feel like the students are really making progress.  The Super Improvers cards that I am using have also been a big hit.  The kids love to beat their personal best.  They earn a star for beating their Super Speed record, doing better gestures, etc.

I had the opportunity to go into a 2nd grade classroom this past week to model the Genius Paragraph.  The teacher asked me to do this because of the results she was seeing from the students in her classroom that work with me.  I so enjoyed the time I had in her classroom.  It was great fun to do the Genius Paragraph with a whole class.  This along with a WBT presentation to the Board of Education made it another successful WBT- Reading week.