Monday, October 5, 2015

Flipped Whole Brain Teaching Robotics w/ PBIS

This school year has been very busy for me. Our district is adopting PBIS, Positive Behavior Intervention Supports this year. I'm on my building's committee for that. In my classroom, I have implemented Whole Brain Teaching classroom management strategies. I've also decided to flip my classroom for Math this year. Plus, I am coaching two FIRST Lego League Robotics teams after school.

PBIS has already made a difference in my classroom. I made a few purposeful "positive phone calls home" for students that displayed behavior issues with other teachers. I simply observed small things these students did correctly and showed appreciation for this. PBIS encourages 4 positive feedback encounters, or more, for every negative, or corrective feedback encounter. These positive encounters with parents encourages them to be supportive of me as a teacher. Positive encounters with students encourages them to want to come to school to learn.

When I first came across Whole Brain Teaching, I was reluctant to implement it, because it seemed too prescriptive and was more like creating cookie-cutter children, which contradicts the idea of differentiation and individualization that I aim to acheive in my classroom. Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try since I needed to improve my classroom management techniques. I have the five WholeBrain Teachingaa rules posted in my classroom and taught them to my students. I use "Class"-"Yes" to get students' attention. I also use "Teach"-"OK" to encourage student to student talk and for solidifying concepts through repetition. One of my students said Rule #5 "Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy" was the easiest rule to follow since, "My teacher is always happy." That definitely goes with my philosophy that teachers should smile before Christmas. I believe happy teachers lead to happy students, which leads back to happy teachers.

I have been thinking about having a flipped classroom for a couple of years. However, I never felt I had the time to make high quality videos. Plus, I was not sure how to hold students accountable for watching the videos. After hearing parents frustrations about trying to help their children with math homework related to the Common Core State Standards and seeing some students not completing their homework worksheets, I decided this is the year to flip. This summer, I came across the youtube channel, Talesof4thGrade, by Mrs. Proffitt. She has an excellent video called "The Flipped Classroom for Parents." In that video, she mentions that she has her students complete Guided Notes that accompany her videos. Instead of making my own videos, I am curating videos that already exist for the math concepts I want students to know. To keep students accountable for watching the videos, I create Guided Notes that students must complete. I told parents that this allows me to draw from other great teachers around the country. I draw from Khan Academy, Learn Zillion, and other great resources. Next summer, I plan to make videos to fill any concepts I can't find adequate videos for during this school year. Eventually, I plan to assign videos Monday- Thursday. On Monday, we complete some type of activity in our Interactive Math Journals, since students did not watch a video the night before.

I have a wonderful parent volunteer, who helps administer individualized spelling tests and helps me prepare for science lessons. I've decided to do Science every Monday, since I do not have Specialists/ planning time that day. This also allows me to prepare on Friday night for the Science lesson on Monday.

The thing that has taken up most of my time has been coaching Robotics after school. We have an amazing robotics team at our local high school, who was recently featured in the news for making a prosthetic arm form a local girl. They compete annually in the FIRST Robotics Challenge. I learned that FIRST has a program for students age 9-13 called FIRST Lego League. So, I decided it would be fun to coach a team of up to 10 students for this competition. To participate, the parents pay the local Booster Club $100, since the costs of running a team is about $900. I thought that I would be lucky to get enough interest to form a team of 10. Instead, the response was overwhelming. So, now I am coaching two teams of nine, and helping a colleague start a Jr. FLL team for younger students. Fortunately, I've received support from our local Robotics booster club, as well as parents and high school mentors for the robotics teams. So, I've been able to take on more of a role of coordinator.

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