Whole Brain Teaching and Communicating

I had a chance to visit another school out of my district this past Friday. Munford Elementary and Munford High School in Talladega County. WOW! They are a model school for Alabama in several different areas. What I saw was phenomenal!!!!!!!!!!!! So of course I went in my classroom today and tried out some stuff. 🙂


This is what I tried with both of my 5th grade classes. They are some of the whole brain teaching techniques.

1. Class class-yes yes

2. Teach-OK

3. Using gestures while learning and teaching

Here’s a link to some information on whole brain teaching:

Whole Brain Teaching Website

Whole Brain Video

I am taking baby steps with this, but I loved what we did today. The kids were SO engaged! I do have to say that I have watched several whole brain teaching video clips from classrooms, and even though my kids are loud they don’t sound as loud as some on the videos. 🙂

The other thing that I introduced to my kids today that I “borrowed” from this wonderful school visit was how to be a good communicator. There are 4 steps that we learned and practiced.

1. Firm handshake     2. Eye contact     3. Clear voice     4. Know content

You know this seems so simple, and it’s never been a part of our standards, but the new ELA common core has several standards on speaking/listening/collaborating. This seems to tie right into that.

The reason that Munford High School has TRAINED all of their students on these 4 things is because they have an ambassador program. Since they are a model school they get A LOT of visitors. These ambassadors are the ones who give the tours (with an administrator of course!) and present the information. It was so neat to see this in action!! Even a 1st grader at the elementary school got up when we entered the classroom, shook all of our hands, introduced himself, and welcomed us to the classroom!!!!!! AWESOME!!

I had told my students that Munford High School has a goal of all students being authentically engaged-being part of the lesson/teaching and that if a student sleeps in class they are suspended. They were shocked at this! I told them I didn’t see ANYONE even close to sleeping when we visited. After we had practiced, practiced, and practiced some more one boy said, “Mrs. Shannon, I know why nobody was sleeping. How could they when they are using all these gestures?” LOL! 🙂 Mission accomplished!

Do you use any of the whole brain teaching methods?

Struggling Readers in Intermediate Grades

WARNING-Long post. Possible depressing post. 🙂

Eye opener today. I mean an EYE OPENER. But first let me give you some background information.

This was my first year teaching history. 4 classes. 5/6 grades. 1 hour each.

I have attempted to implement strategic teaching for the first time:

TWIRL- talking, writing, investigating, reading, listening
Daily outcomes
Chunking the text
Explicit instruction
Formative assessments

It’s been a roller coaster. Some weeks I’ve done good with it. Some weeks not so much. 🙂

AND I’ve tried to reflect on what has worked and what has not.

BUT, I’ve missed the boat with one student. OR have I missed it with more???

Today we were studying the California Gold Rush. Easy and simple topic. 2 short pages of text. Maybe 6 paragraphs. Short paragraphs.

Even when we cover 2 pages like this I chunk the test. I usually give them the purpose for reading a certain paragraph as well.

In this instance I told them to read and find out what Boomtowns were. Then turn and talk about it with their partner.

I was mingling with students. Asked this one student to tell me what Boomtowns were. He couldn’t. Told him to reread and tell me. He still couldn’t. I asked him if he understood what he had read. He said no. At least he was honest.

So I proceeded to “show” him how I read informational text. Reread sometimes. Talk to myself while reading. Read in small chunks. He got tears in his eyes.

He can’t comprehend. Even 7 SHORT lines of information. In an easy history textbook. How is he in the 5th grade? How has he not received intervention? Oh, that’s right. We don’t provide intervention in upper grades for comprehension. Sigh.

I don’t teach him reading, but how have I missed this ALL year?

Have I been so caught up in “implementing” strategic teaching that I have been blind to my students?

So I end this post with this. Today was an eye opener that I have let down two people. Myself and this student. OR how many other students have I let down? And where do we go from here?

How do we keep students from falling through the cracks?

Yes, this student is failing the 5th grade this year. Because of math and reading.

Will he make progress next year as a reader with reading the story each week and taking a test on Friday? I think not. Otherwise he would have made progress THIS year.

It’s Monday-What Are You Reading-4/22/13

Here we are with another chance to share wonderful books with each other thanks to Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts and Sheila over at Book Journey who both sponsor this great meme each week for young adult/children and adult respectively!

Intermediate Grades:

PinnedSurviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps

Soldier XLove? Maybe

The Cage

Young Adult:

See You at Harry's

The only reason I labeled See You At Harry’s as young adult is because of the issue of homosexuality. It’s actually written for 10 and above. I LOVED the story, but I teach in a VERY VERY conservative area so I won’t be able to recommend it to my 5/6 graders because of this. Boo.

Acutally, I liked ALL of the books I read this week. My least favorite one was Pinned, and here’s why. It’s not because of the plot. I mean it centered around 2 teens-both with disabilities. One with a reading disability-the other one wheelchair bound. Those are some deep and very real issues. The thing that kept me from loving it was that the dialect of one of the character’s was very difficult to read. I’m not saying the author was wrong to write it that way-it was just hard for me to read and follow. 🙂

Love?Maybe was the cutest and most lighthearted for the week. Like really cute and lighthearted. Just what I needed after a couple of holocaust books.

I just started Waiting on Normal.

Waiting for Normal

After this one I’ve got to jump on my Rereads for April that I’ve committed to doing-Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte’s Web, and The Outsiders!

Of course, this upcoming week is another crazy one-didn’t I just say that last week????? 🙂 Honor’s Banquet, Athletic Banquet, PTO meeting, Track Sectionals, and visiting Munford High School on Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What are you reading??

One For the Murphys by Lynda Hunt Book Review

One for the MurphysOne For the Murphys by Lynda Hunt

Goodreads Summary:

Twelve-year-old Carley Connors can take a lot. Growing up in Las Vegas with her fun-loving mother, she’s learned to be tough. But she never expected a betrayal that would land her in a foster care. When she’s placed with the Murphys, a lively family with three boys, she’s blindsided. Do happy families really exist? Carley knows she could never belong in their world, so she keeps her distance.

It’s easy to stay suspicious of Daniel, the brother who is almost her age and is resentful she’s there. But Mrs. Murphy makes her feel heard and seen for the first time, and the two younger boys seem determinded to work their way into her heart. Before she knows it, Carley is protected the boys from a neighbourhood bullly and even teaching Daniel how to play basketball. Then just when she’s feeling like she could truly be one of the Murphys, news from her mother shakes her world.

My Thoughts:

Amazingly delicious book that I devoured in one day! Carley grabbed my heart right away although I do have to admit that for awhile I went back and forth between feeling sorry for her and thinking she was too much of a smart alec. She ended up winning my heart when she finally revealed her true character. She’s one of those lost souls that you just want to wrap your arms around and save.

This was an excellent story that I did not want to put down. I think I might have lost a couple of pounds from all the tears that I shed!!

I’ve got to put this in the hands of my 5/6 graders!

5 out of 5 stars 

Or maybe 6 out of 5? 🙂

You can follow this FAB author on twitter- @LynMullalyHunt

Or you can visit her website- http://lyndamullalyhunt.com/book_murphys.ph

BUT you MUST read this book!


Zooma Running and Boston

I got my ZOOMA shirt in the mail!


I will be running the ZOOMA Women’s Race Chicago 2013  on August 10, 2013 with my good friend Susan over at BRB. I.CAN’T.WAIT.

She ran the Boston Marathon yesterday and perservered with strength and courage. I’m so glad she and her family are safe. 🙂

We will run.

Roll and Read Fun

28 days left in school. Spring fever. 6th grade. Need I say more?

With the ants in the pants syndrome that I the kids have right now, I decided to spice things up a bit for me them.

We are studying WWII right now with the next lesson being on how the war affected the people back home. Since this lesson isn’t one of the “sequence” lessons where it has to go in order to make sense I made a “ROLL and READ” activity to put some spark into it for them. 🙂

They will roll a die and read a certain section depending on what number they rolled. Pretty cool, huh?


Here’s a copy of the Roll and Read sheet in PDF format:

Roll and ReadWWII

If you want a template that you can edit here you go:

Roll and ReadWWII2

I grabbed the text that they will read from History On The Net.

On the PDF version I got the cute little clips from Krista’s Borders.

The cute little hamster clipart came from Melonheadz.

Do you have any ideas to spice things up these last few weeks of school????

It’s Monday-What Are You Reading? 4/15/13

Here we are with another chance to share wonderful books with each other thanks to Jen and Kellee over at Teach Mentor Texts and Sheila over at Book Journey who both sponsor this great meme each week for young adult/children and adult respectively!

Intermediate Grade Books:

The Well: David's StoryGlory Be

Daphne's Book

Glory Be was my favorite of the above 3. I liked The Well and Daphne’s Book, but not as much as Glory Be.

Currently Reading:

Prisoner B-3087

If you have been following me then you know my fascination with all historical fiction books about the Holocaust. This one is no exception. It’s written from the point of view of a young boy in Poland. I’m only on page 66 where he has been sent to his first concentration camp. Love it so far!

Not sure what I’ll read after this one since my week is going to be crazy busy-I mean CRAZY BUSY!! 🙂

What’s your fave from the week?