Test Sophistication Time

Teaching Points Preview

March is said to “come in like a lion” and I couldn’t agree more. As the month begins, we teachers are all about to enter the season that leads us up to the biggest event of the school year -standardized testing. As we scramble to review what we can and encourage students along the way, nothing will prepare us better than being well organized and planned.

For me, this meant mapping my daily teaching points out on a monthly calendar (grab one here!), then plugging in all the resources I had into these lessons. I also set aside 9 days for 3 full “mock” exams, knowing that this would greatly benefit my students and work out all the kinks!

Most importantly, I created my Writing Unit Plans for my Writer’s Workshop Unit: Getting Writers Ready for the Common Core and Standardized Tests – TCRWP. These lessons were written for 4th grade, however the unit is identical for grades 3, grade 4, and grade 5. Which means the teaching points are valid for all, you’ll only need to switch the resources used (I reference NY Ready in my lessons). 
Happy testing!


Whole Brain Teaching – Mighty, Oh Yeah!

Whole Brain Teaching – Oh Yeah!

Last summer, during one of countless hours on Pinterest, I stumbled upon a link that immediately peaked my interest. It had to do with brain based learning, something I had become increasingly interested in since taking an RTC course on how the brain learns. The link brought me to a site I have now come to love, www.wholebrainteaching.com

I was immediately drawn to this teaching style because it employed so many of the strategies I already embraced in the classroom. It’s use of routines, repetition, gestures, and excitement immediately intrigued me. The more I read about it, and the more videos I watched on Youtube showcasing it, the more I was convinced… this had to be my next project!

Over the remainder of the summer, I did my best to educate myself (meaning of course I hit up Pinterest, countless blogs, and Youtube) to find all things Whole Brain. There were so many exciting things, that I soon became overwhelmed and decided to scale back and focus on a few things at a time. It was then that I decided to start with the Classroom Rules, the infamous Scoreboard, and the Whole Brain 5. With my cue cards in tow (thank you TPT), the first few hours of teaching routines the WBT way was not only a breeze, but an instant success with the students. They were having a blast! This in turn energized and excited me, making my first day back to school a huge success!

The Scoreboard, which is used to shape behavior, quickly made me abandon my former use of a clip system. So much extra work was needed with my clip system, and yet the Scoreboard offered me so much more control as the kids encouraged one and other in order to win a simple 2 minute reward – Did I mention the reward is FREE?

Using WBT was not only exciting for the students, it was also exciting for me. I felt rejuvenated and revived as a teacher entering her 6th year of teaching. I was excited each morning to try new things, and the kids were equally excited to experiment with me. On top of that, they were learning using the techniques and retaining all the information delivered.

I will never forget how excited I felt the first time I saw kids working independently at their seats, using the gestures and definitions they had learned through the WBT techniques to guide them independently in their own work! No further validation was needed for me, as this was proof that it’s learning style delivered.

It is so empowering as a teacher to be able to say one simple word – “Class” and have every student instantly stop and respond, ready to listen to your next words. WBT, I love you and I am not ashamed to say it.

Stay tuned for a whole series on WBT and how it transforms a classroom!