Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oral Writing to Genius Ladder...how does it all work?

We have talked about several aspects of writing, but now how do you implement them and in what order? It's always good to get good ideas, but then we take them home and wonder, "how does this really look in my room...tomorrow?"

So this is how it feels to me right now. Don't forget that this is a totally new, fluid process,  this is right now, but that may change in the next few months.

I started with Oral Writing (OW) on the first day of school. We did some easy questions that they would know the answers to, and would have more than one sentence answers readily available in their summer zonked brains. I have since done OW with every possible scenario from "How do we walk to lunch?" to "What is a declarative sentence?". Whenever I want them thinking with a neighbor, we're doing it in the OW fashion. It can only help them be better thinkers!

That same day I introduced the Genius Ladder (GL). It's been a ride every day since. I really thought that I would have trouble coming up with the sentences, but I'm keeping them pretty simple and going from there. These two features are similar, but different. They both practice the concept of OW, but the GL really takes them to the next level.

Now you add 10 Minute Writing in there and you have the concrete writing aspect that so many of us feel we need to have...why? Tradition mostly...but I do know that we need to write, it's just that with these first two elements you get so many more practice sessions/repetitions per minute of in class time.

Try these three pieces out all at once, or add them in slowly like the seasoning on a good steak.

Power to the Teacher!

Friday, August 26, 2011

10 Minute Writing

This writing technique is such a simple task to implement, and yet it is so powerful for the best results. Kids need massive repetitions with writing, we know this. The use of Oral Writing and the Genius Ladder gets kids the oral reps that they need, and now we are going to add the writing that will bring these together.

At the end of the day have the kids get out some paper and begin writing on the writing prompt that you give them. The first few times, let them write about what they want, and as time goes on, they should be responding to writing prompts that you choose, that could be from the state writing test if your state has one.

They are going to write for 10 minutes straight with no interruptions. As they begin, tell them you are only looking for neatness right now, today, and maybe even the next three days. You are going to walk around with a red pen and a green pen looking for neatness. Here's how an interaction may go;
       Me: That sentence is neat and exactly what I am looking for. (I make a green mark next to the         sentence.)
       Student: Thank you, Okay, Yes Sir/Ma'am...some type of statement that says, I heard you Mr. Rekstad. Kids are used to dissing teachers; no more. They will now take ownership for their work and respond in kind to your comment. Are we talking to hear ourselves talk? No...have them answer you, it'll feel so great.
       Next Student:
        Me: This part of the sentence needs to be neater please. (I make a red mark next to the sentence.)
        Student: Thanks Mr. Rekstad. (I move on to the next student.)
This goes on until I have gone all the way around the room. It is very quick and efficient. It doesn't take long to look at a students paper when you are looking for neatness.

The next day, you have them write again, but this time they are going to have yesterdays paper right next to them so that you can compare them. If they are making similar mistakes, make two red marks next to the problem.

As the weeks go one, you can start reading their papers for more grammatical things. So, by the end of the year they can write for 10 minutes and be working hard on all of the skills that you have been teaching.

Try it out!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Hardest topic to Teach...Writing - Not any more!

Friends pay careful attention to these few words, and then the continuation of this content as the year progresses. I don't mean to sound haughty, I'm just trying to save you some time from the age old frustration of teaching kids writing. This will be the first in a series of writing posts so that you can see how this evolves as the year moves on.

We at WBT have found the Writing Solution! Do you have some tissue next to you? Here we go...

Step 1: Oral Writing--Get your kids to talk in paragraphs! Ask them a question. Have them answer it in a complete sentence, and then have them add another piece of information to it. Here is what is posted on my board right now;
The question: What is your favorite sport?
The answer: My favorite sport is baseball.
The adder: This is my favorite because I played it so much growing up.

Bingo...you're done! Get the kids to do this several times a day and they will become better at articulating what they are trying to say. As the year progresses, the question will be about core content and that way you'll get many more reps for the state test practice.

Next post...10 minute Writing!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The 7 Wonders of the Whole Brain World!

These wonders of the WBT world of course are the Big 7 Daily Instruction Techniques. Today was my first day of school, and I vowed that this is all that we would do....all day.Yes, teach the kids the Big 7 so that we can use them all day every day all year long. I may even do them all day again tomorrow.

You know the most frustrating thing for teachers is the whole concept of the kids don't listen and don't follow the rules. I'm going to give up a few days of instruction here in the beginning so that I can have some great learning times the rest of the year. Management is crucial these days and the WBT way will always get you what you need, just be patient with it.

My students today were on the edge of their seats all day, waiting for the next great wonder of the WBT world. Tomorrow will be more fun and learning!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Summer is winding down!

I have done three WBT conferences in the last seven days, and I'm seeing some extremely excited teachers ready for the new year! This in turn has made me a little more excited about starting the new year...more than usual.

You can always tell when a group of teachers are excited about WBT...here's how. I'm talking about how we want kids to start changing their own behavior in level two, three and four of our system and before I can say, "Can I get an Oh Yeah!"...a teacher in the back says, "I hear that!", followed by a "Preach it Brother!".

You see fellow WBTer's, we are here to change the world, one classroom at a time! So come on board and join the WBT movement....it's free, but it'll change your life.