Saturday, August 27, 2011

Coaching Fun in First

This week, I was observing in a first grade classroom, and the teacher was asking if a story was fiction or non-fiction. First of all, the teacher said, "Fiction is when a story is true, and non-fiction is when a story is fantasy". (I am pretty sure she knows the difference, but just said it backwards.) I began to walk up quietly, because as an instructional coach, I need to correct inaccurate information. She called on her top student, and the student repeated it the same way the teacher presented it, to which the teacher replied, "That's correct". Uh oh! I whispered to the teacher, and asked her if I could teach the kids a little trick to remember fiction/non-fiction. I then showed the students the gesture for fiction, (3 fingers on the forehead like 3 eyeballs), because if someone had 3 eyeballs it would definitely be fiction, or make-believe! We laughed, and asked each other, "What is fiction?", and answered, "Fiction is when a story is made up, it is not real" (with accompanying gesture of 3 fingers on the forehead). Then, I proceeded to teach them the gesture for non-fiction, (2 fingers right below the eyes), because a real person has 2 eyes. We then moved on to ask, "What is non-fiction?", and answered "Non-fiction is when a story is real, not made up" (with accompanying gesture of 2 fingers below the eyes).  I asked them if I could come back later and show them some pictures that would help them remember fiction and nonfiction, and we would play a game. They resoundingly responded "Yes!"
Later that day, I returned and brought the power pix for fiction, and non-fiction, and we played "Yes, No Way" and "QT". Oh, what fun!
This process took no more than 5 minutes each time, and the students got it!!!
I saw these students in line for lunch the next day, and they said, "Mrs. Weigel, I remember fiction and non-fiction" (with gestures).
I love my job!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mrs. Weigel, Mrs. Weigel, What Do You See?

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" is a much loved children's book by the talented Eric Carle. I have read this book so may times, I am certain I could quote it from memory! On each page, the characters are asked, "What Do You See?", and they respond "I see a _____ looking at me".  I was reminded of this beloved children's book as I began my new role this year as an instructional coach. What do I see when I walk into classrooms? Do I see teachers working hard, but students not working hard? Do I see students engaged in learning? Do I see respect modeled? Do I see students being held accountable for their learning? Let me share with you a peek at what  WBT  techniques I have seen this week on our campus:

In Kinder: Students have learned Class-Yes, the 5 Rules, and Hands and Eyes. They are practicing "Tell your neighbor", which is a prelude to Teach-OK. The scoreboard has been introduced, and all are working hard at earning smilies. I am so proud of how much they have accomplished in a week!

In First: Class-Yes, the 5 Rules, Hands and Eyes, the Scoreboard, Teach-Ok, and Switch have all been introduced and practiced. The teachers are using the rules as cues to help manage behavior.  For example, when a student blurts out, the teacher cues "Rule 2", and the class says, "Raise your hand for permission to speak!" All this is one week's time!

In Second: Our second grade teachers have all commented how easy their transition has been, since all first grade classes used WBT last year. In fact, the students have probably been the biggest factor in our second grade team wanting to use WBT this year- since they are seeing the wonder of students who follow procedures and are engaged in learning. The teachers also shared that at Open House, many parents were asking if their children would be using WBT in the classroom this year, because they LOVED it in first grade!

In Third: Our third grade teachers are probably the most enthusiastic about embracing WBT as a whole team. I have observed them having students using air punctuation, rehearsing the rules, and lots of Teach-Ok. They are asking for training on the Genius Ladder.

In Fourth: One class is using WBT a bit, and the other 2 are still unsure of how WBT will work for them. Our fourth grade team was strong last year, and the students made great progress. I am going to introduce oral writing, the writing game, and prove it to them. I think they will find these tools useful this year.

In Fifth: I observed one class where the teacher was working extremely hard to teach types of sentences, but only a few students had hands up and were answering all the questions. After some whisper coaching, she began asking teams to read questions, and partners to discuss answers using the because clapper. By the end of the lesson, the class had teams "competing" to see if everyone on the team could get the answer- of course, helpsies were allowed! I witnessed the class transform from a handful of students engaged to a classroom of students practically begging the teacher to call on their group. Why?Because they were confident that their team each had the correct answer! Oh, did I mention that they incorporated air punctuation in their answers, with the whole class mirroring? Yes!!!

In Sixth: I watched a teacher during reading, using Class-yes and Teach-ok. After the lesson, we chatted, and she shared that she was skeptical about trying WBT with 6th grade, but she did, and they love it! She is brand new to WBT, and only knows what I presented during orientation week, so I was encouraged to see her integrating WBT into her lessons.

"Mrs. Weigel, Mrs. Weigel, What do you see?" "I see classrooms of happy Teachers and Learners, looking at me!"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to School We Go...

"Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to school we go..." I find myself singing this familiar tune as I am getting ready to go back to school! But, for the first time, I am not setting up my own classroom. This year I will be serving as an instructional coach, assisting our teachers as we pursue excellence. I must admit, I still have mixed feelings about this transition. On the positive side, I am excited because I enjoy helping teachers, and will be able to spread the WBT joy amongst those who are embracing it. On the other hand, I KNOW I am going to miss the day to day interaction with my first graders! 

Oh no! I just realized I will not be able to wear my "Rule 5" button!!! I am wondering, can I adjust Rule 5 (to apply to the teachers)~ "Keep your coach happy"? Hmmm...

Many of our teachers are "dabbling" in WBT, and a few are fellow Wibbiteers! We even have two teachers who are participating in WBT's Model Classrooms.  How exciting!  Check out the ebook at

I am looking forward to hearing the sweet sound of students teaching each other as I weave in and out of classrooms across the campus.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to bed I go, BECAUSE tomorrow is the first day of school!!!!!!!