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A Life-Changing Classroom... Seriously

A life-changing classroom can sound a little too good to be true right?

WRONG!

I recently went to the Whole Brain Teaching conference in Shreveport, Louisiana, and have been so excited to share with you the amazing and wonderful resources I have learned! 
There are so many resources FREE (yes, free!!!)  that can be shared in the classroom and so many techniques that can change your entire classroom into a more positive place. 
What teacher doesn't want a better classroom?

One of the best quotes I heard this week from a great Whole Brainer, Chris Rekstead was, "Teachers, for the first time, stop going home exhausted...instead let your students go home exhausted!" YES! How many of us are just tired of all the craziness of teaching? The joy I have found in Whole Brain Teaching has been incredibly rewarding and I cannot speak enough about this movement! 

There are a few takeaways I have that I want to share with you BEFORE you check out WBT website/ videos etc. that I have learned this week. 

#1. It's more than "Class/ Yes" 

You may have walked down your school and overheard the words "Class, Class/ Yes, Yes" by a wonderful teacher who is seeking the attention of her class after a young student rabbit trailed off talking about his adventure to Disneyworld with his family this past summer.... 

Friends, "Class, Yes" is more than just a call and respond. If you are implementing this wonderful tool, you have only started an initial WBT teaching style. There's so much more than just "class/yes" 


As a newbie to WBT, this picture represents is the BEST way to implement the  WBT style of teaching. 

1. Attention Getter
2. Mirror Words (students mimic with their hands/ words in order to activate their whole brain *duh*)
3. CHUNK your instruction (stop talking so much :) lol)
4. Teach/ Okay (less teacher talk & more student talk)
5. Assess the room (are your kiddos off topic? Fix the problem areas here in the short 30-45 seconds) 

START AGAIN

This circle should happen over & over ALL day in EVERY subject. 


Here are some of my favorite videos. I basically aspire to be like these amazing teachers :) 

**NOTE: the bottom video is very long, but worth every minute. 
Kindergarten students read/ retell in WBT style a 5 paragraph essay.
(WHAT!? How many of our 4th graders don't even know how to write in complete sentences?) 

Credit: Andre DeShotel

Credit: Andrea Shindler 



#2. If you're selling Whole Brain Teaching products online, you don't understand the true message of WBT. 

The best part of the conference was hearing the heart behind the movement. Coach B could charge for every single resource and be a multimillionaire because of the quality of every single item, but he felt the Lord spoke to him telling him to share all WBT for FREE. 

I was challenged by their statement that EVERYTHING IS FREE under "freebies" because I have personally seen MANY teachers charge WBT products. I personally have been guilty of paying for a product two years ago because I did not know how many resources are out there for free. 

After the second day, I decided to scroll through TPT just to see how many products were out there that people were charging for. Y'all, I cannot believe the amount being spent over "cute" products. 

I even saw a precious WBT bundle product that was $40.00 


STOP SELLING WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING PRODUCTS


#3. Whole Brain Teaching is NOT just a new classroom management system.
Although WBT is an incredible new way to manage your kiddos, there's more

Here are some examples of the classroom management piece:
1. The Scoreboard

Credit: Chris Biffle.. aka Coach B

2. Super Improvers
Credit: Mrs. Nelson's Classroom (Pinterest)

Credit: Lindsey Roush (Chris Biffle Youtube)

Ok, getting back to it's more than classroom management...

If you sign up as a member again it's free y'all you will instantly have access to hundreds of resources! 

Here are a few of mine that I use in my own classroom:

Braines 
*my absolute favorite part of Whole Brain Teaching*
Credit: Lindsey Roush

Super Speed Grammar
Credit: Rebecca Crooks

Super Speed Math 
Credit: Farrah Shipley

The Crazy Professor Reading Game 
**fluency builder for upper elementary**
Credit: Chris Rekstead

Genius Ladder 
Credit: Coach B



Friends, please go register as a member for all of these amazing resources at Whole Brain Teaching. You can thank me later! ;) 


So why Whole Brain Teaching? 
If you are still asking yourself, is it really worth it.. the answer is yes! 
Coach B said it best- "If a student's whole brain is involved in learning, there isn't any mental area left over for challenging behavior." 



If WBT ONLY helps with challenging behaviors from those beloved rascals, it's worth it.











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Fierce & Focused during the Testing Season

Today's post is all about fierce and focused during this crazy testing season. I collaborated with #Gonoodle a few weeks ago about staying stress-free during this testing season. I wrote the article [here] if you want to read all about the different GoNoodle videos we use in our classroom to keep calm, stay focused and de-stress!


Photo Cred: Google/ Unknown

Keep calm they say...
Keep calm with 18-25 students who are stressed, over-worked, and ready to be done? Yes, that's a question. Keep calm during testing season, yet our kids just want to go outside and play?
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Maybe a little too familiar....

During this season, it can be a challenge for students and teachers to stay stress free. Teachers have grades to report, parent conferences, after school tasks, PLC's, and continuing to teach the rest of the year. You know normal things, but during testing season, it can be overwhelming! 



Tips to Stay Fierce and Focused 

1)  MOVE AROUND!
My guest blogpost from GoNoodle is all about getting students up and moving when they are anxious, overwhelmed, and tired! 
  • Plan out 3-4 videos EACH day to help students get their wiggles out! This will help them stay focused and ready to learn, especially on the days of practice tests (insert emoji here) 
  • Allow VIP students or the MVP students to choose their favorite videos. This can work as a small classroom management incentive as well! Allowing students who are making positive choices and working hard to choose can be an effective reward for them. 
  • Enjoy the GoNoodle videos with your kiddos! I can't tell you how many times my students beg me to do GoNoodle dances with them even though I have no rhythm at all. Sometimes it's fun to be silly! You never know, you may find yourself loving Pop See Ko too :)




2) Set the Stage to Engage! Hope King has the BEST resources for Setting the Stage to Engage. Try mixing in fun task card games (with colorful board game pieces), allow students to get rid of the paper/ pencil test and review outside the box, and set up camp/ bootcamp/ cafe (any classroom transformation) to set the stage for engaged learners. (There are [many] resources out there, but the resources above are my favorite)

Task Cards
  • I LOVE task cards! Task cards are very engaging and take 2 seconds at the printer to copy. YAY #teacherproblems Here are some of my FAVORITE task card resources-

                     READING


MATH



3) Pump them up!

Celebrate their hard work and effort by having a dance party, paper airplane throwing contest, and fun mixed review games!

  • Celebration Ideas: Dance Party, Paper Airplane Throwing Contest, Camp Out Party, Easter Egg Hunt Scavenger Hunt, Human Hungry Hungry Hippo
Dance Party!
Video Cred: Go Noodle

Photo Cred: Classroom Magic


Human Hungry Hungry Hippos! 
Photo: Our 4th Grade students playing last week
Check out my Instagram for more videos!
Don't worry... blogpost coming soon on how we tied STAAR review in to our fun game  :)


Video Cred: Tanner Neilson



Stay Fierce & Focused during this crazy testing season, friends!


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Sentence Surgery!



Welcome back friends,


Today's blog post is all about Sentence Surgery!


I created this product to review for the STAAR Writing test coming up. (YIKES!)
Last April, I had the amazing opportunity to visit The Ron Clark Academy I should blog about that soon. While I was there, the fabulous Kim Bearden, inspired all of us with her ideas about turning your classroom into a place that is engaging to learners. She gave out 20+ ideas on how to set the stage to engage, which is also inspired by the wonderful Hope King. 
I had the opportunity to meet both of these sweet ladies, and let me just tell you, you will walk away thinking you have so much work to do because they will inspire you to the core.


As a result, I created the Sentence Surgery {Grammar & Writing activity} pack! 
When we did this unit in my classroom, I provided students with surgical masks, gloves and hair covers to help "set the stage" a little more.



Steps to Surgery: Setting the Stage

While there are many wonderful ideas for primary grades, I really needed to create a product with more in-depth, hands-on learning to help review. This product is specifically created for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.

Here is a picture of the "patient" & a FREEBIE for you to help you get started!








If you have any other ideas/ ways to engage students comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts! I hope your students enjoy the product as much as my students! 


Thank you!










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Flexible Seating in the 21st Century!


Hello Friends!

I am jumping on board with my fellow teacher friends about the best new thing in town!


Flexible seating within a coffeeshop style classroom.

Photo Cred: Pinterest


My first encounter with this idea came from Top Dog Teaching's, Ms. Kayla Delzer, when she was asked about her creative classroom seating in this video and news article. You can also catch her amazing Ted Talks video here about reimagining classrooms.

Side note-if you aren't following her top dog kids Instagram, you are seriously missing out!
Photo Cred: Lucky Little Learners


Then I stumbled upon Meg's New Box of Crayons giveaway & Lucky Little Learners' tips & tricks on how to make this dream a reality within my own classroom. I took pieces of both of their ideas and I'm jumping in to get flexible seating within my classroom!

I also found this video from Edutopia that shows what flexible seating in the classroom really looks like. 

We use Class Dojo in my classroom as a reward system, you can check out the previous blog post here. I decided to give Meg's New Box of Crayons' idea a try within my own classroom. Now, my students must reach a goal of 3,000 dojo points combined in order to receive their special spot surprise. I'll be honest, this idea is completely out of my comfort zone. I allow students to sit on the floor, hallway, and have a special spot in the room, but to reimagine my classroom is scary. At first, when I started trying to process how I could do all of this, I realized I just don't have that kind of money right now, and I need financial support!

That's when I decided to post my project on Donor's Choose

That's where you come in, I need your help!

 I am holding a Donor's Choose Giveaway! YAY!


3 lucky donor's will win big prizes including....

(1) It Works Skinny Wraps
(1) Go Noodle Prize Packs
(1) Custom Header and Quote Box banner for your TPT store! 
 Here is how it works...
1. Donate to my Donor's Choose Project (click here for the link)
2) Email me @ uncommonteaching@gmail.com to let me know you donated to my project
3) Enter into the Donor's Choose Giveaway (below)
4) Earn extra entries by sharing this blog post & tagging me on on Social Media! (@uncommonteaching)

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Books Teachers Love: January Edition


Happy New Year,  friends! 
I'm joining in with some of my favorite teacher bloggers for the January edition of Books Teachers Love. 




For January, one of my favorite books to read is "Martin's Big Words" It is a great time to read it being the month that we honor and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 







We have limited resources at my school so I have to get really creative when searching for new books. My students love to "watch" books online
I found this wonderful activity pack from Teach Create Motivate here that I will be going through with my students as well. 




Another one of my favorite one of my favorite books to read in January is "White Socks Only."

If you don't have the book, you can have your students listen to it as it is read aloud online! (Storyline Online is my favorite!)






I like to have questions ready to go as I read, KWL chart and a few activities to do after we read this book aloud.

You can grab a copy of related activities from the Storyline Online website here.


Here is a few of the other read aloud for January



Thanks for stopping by! 



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Publishing Camp Out Party!

Welcome Friends,

I am excited to share with you a very fun and creative way to help engage your students in writing! 


Publishing Camp Out



Teaching fourth grade writing is an adventure to tackle sometimes. Typically, Texas requires Narrative and Expository samples for the 4th Grade Writing Staar. However, this year they graciously decided to change their expectations for our poor 4th grade friends. 

For this activity, we simply focused on the writing process for about two full weeks. Our topic/ central idea was over pumpkins and we strategically worked through the steps of the writing process thoroughly. As a reward for their hard work and dedication, I set up a giant tent and "campfire" in our classroom to have a publishing camp out party!



Students were allowed to wear pajamas, bring a flashlight, pillow and their final published copies of their first expository essay! 
We even had a few parents stop by to see "how things were going" :) teacher points!?



Inspiration

This idea is inspired by my teacher-friend, Ashley, as well as Hope from Elementary Shenanigans #setthestagetoengage 


I am also incredibly thankful for the wonderful ladies, Ms. Kayla over at Texas Teaching Fanatic and Ms. Jacqueline over at Little Ladybug Shop for their insight, wonderful teacher-created materials and dedication to help all of us on the struggle bus. #thestruggleisreal




Hope you enjoyed this fun, quick way to engage your audience! Let me know if you have ever set your tent or have any other ideas for writing- I would love to hear your feedback!

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All About GoNoodle!



Welcome friends,

I am thrilled to share with you an amazing online resource that is free, safe & easy to use!

My students have fallen in love with GoNoodle for brain beaks!

GoNoodle is a fun, engaging way to boost brain power.
 I watch this video with my students every year at the beginning of school to discuss the importance of exercise, healthy habits and the effects of getting up & moving in our classroom to promote positive behavior. 


Brain breaks are a fabulous way to boost brain power, help them focus their attention on content work and helps aid in transitions within the classroom. 

How to use GoNoodle in your classroom:

Calm- "Think About It" 
Think about it videos are a great way to get your student's attention, help calm down disruptions and help aid in transitions. I use these videos to help transition back to our seat, hallway procedures and entering/ exiting the classroom. 


Energize- Run with Us, Koo Koo Kangaroo, Zumba and Indoor Recess
My student's favorite videos are Run with Us and Koo Koo Kangaroo. I'm also a fan of GoNoodle's Indoor Recess channel because let's be real, who hates the cold, winter days when we can't take the students outside to freeze to play and get their wiggles out?!
 Thank you GoNoodle for thinking about all of the teachers out there going crazy during the winter months! You rock!

Focus- Yoga, Maximo and Awesome Sauce!
Focus videos can be very similar to the calming videos because they help relax and rejuvenate students! I love My students love Maximo because he is a monkey, who has a "cool accent" and is blue. #maximothemonkey

I use the focus videos before any assessment in my classroom. This helps with students who are struggling with nerves/ anxiety, students who may need to get their wiggles out, and students who are not quite ready to take a test right after lunch and recess. The focus videos are a great tool to help aid in student engagement and focus their attention back on the content. 

Brain Breaks: Awesome Sauce! Youtube Videos and Kidz Bop
There are even more videos to choose from under the categories listed above. Sometimes my students are disengaged, bored or just need a 2 minute dance party. Thank you Go Noodle, again!


If you are interested in implementing brain breaks in your classroom, go sign up for GoNoodle


Also,  Teacher to the Core has some great ideas on how to incorporate GoNoodle into the classroom and freebie that you can use with your class! Check out her awesome blog for more details! 

I'm giving this fun prize pack away for one lucky winner!


You have a chance to win this cute pencil pouch, just enter the Rafflecopter below to win!
 How do you use GoNoodle in your classroom? 


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