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.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Genius Paragraph Challenge

I have to tell you all that I am loving WBT with my small reading groups!  One of the biggest successes that I have had as been the Genius Paragraph.  At one of the buildings I work in, I have been with my small reading groups since the day after Labor Day.  Each day we start our routine with reviewing the rules then doing the Genius Paragraph.  For the first several weeks, I wrote the Blah Sentence, The Spicy Sentence, and the Extender/Complexor Sentence.  Then we did the Genius Paragraph orally using the adder gesture as we came up with the sentences for the paragraph.  Last week one of my third graders asked me "Can we write the sentences ourselves?"  (This coming from a student I have worked with for the previous two years.  He never wanted to do any writing and not much reading.)  My response was "Yes..of course you can write sentences yourselves".  The next time we were together (two days later) he walks in my room saying "Remember we get to write the sentences to the Genius Paragraph ourselves today".  I said "I didn't forget that!"

They wrote really great sentences and were very excited.  Each student wrote the Blah, Spicy, and Extender/Complexor sentences.  Then we came up with the Genius Paragraph sentences orally.

I shared the sentences they wrote with some of the teachers and bragged on how well they did.  So today my second graders came in and said, "Can we write the Genius Paragraph sentences ourselves today?" 
I'm thinking to myself, I can't believe this, I've got these kids asking to write when most teachers are saying I can't get my kids to write anything.  So; of course, I said "Sure you can".  They did a great job.  Following is what one of my second graders wrote today:

Blah sentence:  I have dogs.
Spicy sentence:  I have two dogs.
Extender/Complexor sentence:  I have two dogs that are twins.
Genius Paragraph:  I have two dogs that are twins.  Their names are Sally and Lacey.  They like to    chew on bones.  It is fun having twin dogs.

The others in the group did the Blah, Spicy, and Extender/Complexor sentences.  Then we came up with the Genius paragraph sentences orally for them using the adder gesture.

Then, you won't believe this, my second graders issued a Genius Paragraph challenge to the third graders.  They asked me to leave up what they had wrote in the room.  Tomorrow when my third graders come in, I am supposed to say to them, "Do you think you can write a paragraph better than this?"  And the challenge is on....

I am having good successes all the way around with WBT so far, but the successes with the Genius Paragraph have really been amazing.  The teachers in this building are even saying that they are seeing changes in the way these kiddos are coming up with much better complex sentences.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Off & Running, Finally!

Well, I now have two weeks in with a few of my small groups.  :)  One of the buildings I teach in is a kindergarten through third grade building.  On two days a week I meet with kindergartners and third graders and three days a week I meet with first and second graders.  Every quarter I switch it up so the two day group becomes the three day group. (It's quiet interesting.) I have been amazed at how much I am covering in my 35 minute sessions with these students using WBT.  My basic schedule is:
*Review Rules
*Review Biffy Tunes (K - 1, although the 2nd & 3rd graders like them, too.)
*Review Power Pix
*Genius Paragraph (I work Biffy Tune words into the sentences for my kindergartners and Power Pix concepts in to the sentences for the older students.)
*Super Speed (Letters for K, 100 for 1 - 3)
*New Biffy Tune words (K - 1)
*New Power Pix using the 5 step lesson plan
*Read (Crazy Professor will become part of this a little later.)

The students are really doing well.  The second grade group is all about WBT.  They do the Class-Yes, Teach/Okay, Mirror, etc.  The first graders are beginning to get it.  The third graders were a mixed group. Some would do everything wonderfully while others acted like they were too cool to participate.  Then I introduced the Super Improver's Wall.  Now the third graders are all about earning those stars.  They earn stars for beating their Super Speed record and for participating (gesturing, Class-Yes, Teach/Okay, etc.)  The kindergartners were my challenge.  They looked at me like I was crazy.  It was as if they didn't trust me to really want them to move and talk.  You wouldn't have believed how quite they got at first, but now they are making progress.  They will do the Class-Yes and gesture for the Biffy Tunes and Power Pix.  The Teach/Okay is still a challenge, but we will master it.

All in all, I am very happy with how it is going so far.  I get to start with my groups in the other building I teach in on Monday.  :)  That is a third through fifth building.  I am anxious to see how everything goes with these groups.  I'll keep you posted.

Until next time, happy WBT!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reading Groups Are About to Start

The paperwork is done; at least at one of my schools, the plans are made, and I get to start with my own students tomorrow!  I can hardly wait to start using WBT with my small reading groups.  I will be working with students in grades kindergarten through fifth and will have 2-8 students in a group at one time.  This year I have most of the classroom teachers using WBT as well.  I am expecting great things!

I actually modeled using the Genius Paragraph in a 5th grade classroom last week on Friday.  It went beautifully.  I had not worked with these students before.  Their classroom teacher asked me to come in and model a lesson with the Genius Paragraph.  She was using WBT, but was still working on getting all of the Big Seven in place.  I walked in and started right in on the lesson.  The class responded and was on task the whole time.  I actually modeled how to bring a Power Pix (noun, verb, and adjective)into the lesson, so it took a little longer than the Genius Paragraph would normally take.  The classroom teacher wanted to see this complete process  Even with this added step, the lesson was complete in less than 20 minutes, and the students had it.

I plan to start with the Genius Paragraph tomorrow with my kiddos, but will only spend 5 minutes on it as we will be doing the basic lesson orally.  I won't bring the Power Pix into Genius Paragraph with my groups for the first few lessons.

I will let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Year Begins

Well, here we are, the beginning of another school year.  This is my 23 year teaching and my 3rd year as a reading specialist.  I haven't started working with my groups of students yet.  I have, along with a fellow teacher, given a WBT presentation to our group of new elementary teachers.  I am busy completing all the necessary paperwork to be able to start my groups.  I can hardly wait to get busy with my kids and put WBT to work. 

There are several teachers in my buildings using WBT this year.  I have heard several comments such as "This is the best beginning to the school year that I have ever had."  It sure appears to be a smooth start to the year for those embracing WBT.

My plan for this blog is to share how WBT works in a small group setting.  I will focus on Communication Arts as I am a reading teacher, but will share other things that I notice happening in the classrooms that I work with.  I will post at least weekly, but will try to post more often once I have my groups in place, probably beginning after Labor Day.

Come along on my journey of teaching reading with WBT.