Sunday, December 20, 2015

Changing the World!

Kindness and Compassion

The world is full of kindness and compassion, but many times these qualities are overshadowed by heartache, despair, anger, and bullying.  I would like to take a moment to remind you that generosity is alive and well.  It is something that can be seen, heard, and felt in my elementary school on a daily basis.  If you have never had the opportunity to step inside the classrooms of Frontier Elementary, let me tell you that you are missing out!  Our students are the most upbeat, caring young citizens that I have had the opportunity to share my daily life with.  They are the kind of kids that make me happy every day when I go to work.  They are the kind of kids that make me wish I could have all of them in my own class.  They are the kind of kids that my own kids are proud to call their friends.  

This year I have been blessed to be the coordinator of Frontier's Kindness and Compassion Club.  The club consists of 4th and 5th graders who want to make the world a better place.  We meet once a month after school and dedicate our time to community service projects. 

If you are concerned that these qualities are a fading trend, then I welcome you to visit Frontier Elementary on any given day.  Our KC Club is leading the way of spreading generosity, not only throughout our school, but around our community as well! We are planting the seeds of humanity, encouraging the growth of positivity, and changing the world!!! 

Below are the highlights of our first semester!  Enjoy!

In September, we painted signs to kick off Rachel's Challenge for our school!
KC Club fearless leaders are Patty Craft, Nita Surrite, Leslie Singleton, and Robyn Hays.

Rachel's 5 Challenges
1. Look For the Best in Others
2. Dream Big
3. Choose Positive Influences
4. Speak With Kindness
5. Start Your Own Chain Reaction
For our October/November meeting, we taped motivational messages to all the student bathroom mirrors!  We also made signs for our Bedlam Canned Food Drive that benefited students at one of our Edmond Middle Schools!
In December, the students created over 50 amazing, hand-made Christmas cards for a local nursing home! 
Troy (KC Club member), joined by his sister, Piper, and brother, Colton, delivered the Christmas cards to some very special nursing home residents on Saturday!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Going Batty Over Brainies!

It's finally October, so you know what that means!  Lots of fun Fall activities for the classroom!  My AMAZING teaching partner, Mrs. Ziggy, found the cutest idea on TPT that we introduced today!  Meet Shadow, the Bat!  

Shadow will be in our room for the entire month, writing us daily letters that he will need help editing.  He had quite a few writing mistakes, so we made sure to tell him, "You're still cool, Shadow!"  After we edited his first letter today, we practiced reading it with our WBT Brainies!  Check out our video!

The students then wrote letters to Shadow, letting him know about our classroom! 

The "Quiet Place" corner is pretty quiet!

Hanging out under a desk could be dangerous!

Shadow definitely needs to make sure he doesn't fly after the alarm is set or else he will set off the motion detector!  The kids are REALLY concerned about this happening tonight!

Shadow will be teaching our class how to improve our editing skills during Morning Meeting through letters he writes to us each night!  The only problem is that Shadow loves quiet places, so we had to warn him that our WBT classroom will be loud when we are learning!  He said that was fine, as long as everyone was following the Class Rules, using their Brainies, and fully engaging in Partner Sharing! If not, he may fly to another classroom, or (gasp!) even another school!

Finally, the most exciting part about having Shadow in our classroom, is that he has a BFF in Mrs. Ziggy's classroom!  Meet Mrs. Ziggy's Shadow:

We will update you on Shadow throughout the month, as well as showing you our ever-improving Brainies that we use in the classroom each day!!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Spreading the Word!

Today I had the opportunity to spread the word of Whole Brain Teaching to my amazing faculty at Frontier Elementary!!!   Here is an overview of what was covered:

The Organizer: The Classroom Rules
Rule #1 Follow Directions Quickly!
Rule #2 Raise Your Hand for Permission to Speak!
Rule #3 Raise Your Hand for Permission to Leave Your Seat!
Rule #4 Make Smart Choices!
Rule #5 Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy!
Diamond Rule: Keep Your Eyes on the Target, Please!

*Practice "Right-Way/Wrong-Way" to make learning the rules for exciting for students; use Student Leaders to help review the rules to the class; Partner Practice is also a great way for rehearsal time!

The Attention Getter: Class!-Yes!
*Remember to change up the way you say it!  Ex) Classity! Classity! - Yessity! Yessity!, Hey Class! - Hey Yes!, Frontier Class!, Falcon Yes!  You get the idea....!!!

The Focuser: Hands and Eyes!
Say this to get students back on task, with eyes on you and hands folded, ready to listen to your next BIG point!

The Routine Setter: 3-Peats
Students will repeat your directions 3 times.  Ex) Pencils out, out, out! or Lines, lines, lines!

The Engager: Gestures
Get those hands moving!  Use Power Pix and Brainies gestures throughout your lessons! Gestures are one of the most important parts of a WBT classroom!  Check out the Brainies and Power Pix on the WBT website!

The Active Learner:Teach-OK
Students will pair up and teach their partner skills and concepts that they have learned; The teacher will clap/stomp/snap in a patter and say "Teach!", the students will repeat the pattern, say "OK" and turn to their partners ready to share!  The more teachers talk, the more students they talk in short chunks and let those students start sharing what they've learned!

The Involver: Switch
The "Switch" eliminates chronic talkers and chronic listeners.  Every student becomes an active participant in the classroom!

The Unifier: Mirror
Use the Mirror to introduce new concepts and review learned skills; remember to use those BIG gestures!  Students will not only mirror the teacher, but their partner/student leader as well!

The Critical Thinker: Power Pix
Power Pix are a great tool to use for incorporation of state standards and key concepts!  I will blog in further detail about Power Pix in the future!

The Reward Giver: Woo!  It's Cool!
Reward your students with a Ten Finger Woo...or even a Ten Finger Woo with a Lightning Sizzle!  Also, don't forget to say, "It's cool!" when a student (or especially the teacher) makes a mistake!  

The Writer: Genius Ladder
Blah Sentences!  Spicy Sentences!  Extender Sentences!  Genius Paragraphs!  *More details about the Genius Ladder coming soon!

The Class Motivator: Scoreboard
Start tallying up those Mighty Oh Yeahs and Mighty Groans!  Who will earn the most points by the end of the day???  Do you see a quick Dance Party in your future?!

The Individual Motivator: Super Improver Team
Everyone is a Super Improver!  Students can improve on handwriting, following directions quickly, math facts, reading fluency, the list goes on and on....even the teacher is a Super Improver!  *More info to come on this amazing strategy that is used in Whole Brain Teaching classrooms!

Teacher Heaven: The 5-Step Lesson Plan
In the 5-step lesson plan, make sure you state a question, provide an answer with a gesture, expand on the answer with examples and review, evaluate using Yes/No Way/QT/Prove It!, and finally, don't forget about the critical thinking aspect with the concept and writing assessment!

The Energizer: YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You are the driving force in your classroom!  You set the stage for your environment!  Don't be afraid to act and look silly!  Your students will love the action of a WBT classroom and will be highly engaged in the learning process!

***The WBT strategies that are the easiest to implement TOMORROW are the Classroom Rules, Class-Yes, Hand and Eyes, 3-Peats, and the amazing Scoreboard!!!  Go get your WBT on!!!

"Tell me and I will forget; Teach me and I may remember; Involve me and I will learn" 
Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classroom Tour!

Full Classroom View 1
Full Classroom View 2

WBT Rules
1. Follow Directions Quickly!
2. Raise your hand for permission to speak.
3. Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat.
4. Make smart choices!
5. Keep your dear teacher happy!
(aka the "No Loop-Hole Rule!")
Diamond Rule: Keep your eyes on the target! Please!

Super Improver Team
(Every child is a Super Improver!  Even the teacher has her own star!)

Bloom's Taxonomy
Six Writing Traits
Math Centers
WBT Strategies Posters
Pat Pavelka Center Wheel
Teacher I'm Done, Now What Do I Do? Area
Classroom Library

Genius Writing Ladder
(More details to come!)

Language Power Pix Wall
(Power Pix are major curriculum concepts that are taught
through highly engaging gestures)

Math Power Pics Wall
(Examples of Power Pix to come soon! Each Power Pix
 has a question, answer, picture, and gesture!)

Word Wall
(I use Amazing/Vocabulary Words for higher-level learning.)

Competition Brainies Poster
(This is located at the front of the classroom.
My students have already started learning several of the Brainies during the first 2 days of school!)

Desk Brainies
(Each student has their own mini version of the Brainies poster on their desk.
They will be able to quickly reference this during Teach-Ok!)
Entrance to my classroom.
(After learning a new concept,
the students write down something
they have learned on a sticky note
and stick it on the frame!)
We Are Bucket Fillers
Life Principles (Great Expectations)
Safe Place and Calming Strategies (Conscious Discipline)
I hope you have enjoyed this WBT Classroom Tour!  I will be blogging about each strategy in upcoming blog posts!  These pictures will be available on my Pinterest and Instagram accounts!  Let me know if you have any questions about anything that you have seen!  Remember - it's never too late to start incorporating WBT into your classroom!
I hope you have an amazing school year!  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Lovin' of Excellence

There are many reasons why I love summer…I get to sleep in later than normal,  I am able to spend more quality time with my children, and I don’t have to stress about schedules, outfits, or homework.  Usually around this time, near the end of July, is when I start gearing up for “back to school” mode.  I won’t lie – some years the end of summer has been a hard pill to swallow.  (The years after each of my babies were born were definitely the toughest!) 

This summer has been a little different for me because my school mode has never turned off.  I have literally spent every day either attending conferences, working on my WBT internship, brainstorming like crazy with my two teaching besties, or enlarging my circle of teacher friends through social media. (By the way, I am blown away by all the amazing things social media has to offer – I am now completely addicted to Periscope, as well as Google Hangouts…what an amazing way to connect with teachers all over the country!)

This non-stop action may sound crazy to you, but this has truly been the best summer ever!  I have never been more excited for a school year to start!  I feel more energized about teaching than I have in a long time.  I can’t wait to try out all the new strategies that I have learned with my upcoming class that I will welcome in 4 weeks.  (My only wish is that I could have all my previous students join in the fun too!) 

One of my favorite quotes is, “There are no shortcuts to excellence.”  I have taken this quote to heart this summer as I continue to learn and grow in my teaching career.  I want to be excellent at being ME.  I want to be the best that I can be, in my own little classroom in Edmond, OK.  My excellence won’t look the same as the next teacher’s excellence, and that’s ok.  Are there going to be days that I feel my best is not good enough in the eyes of others?  Absolutely…for me, that’s every single day of my life.  My goal is to do what I can do to feel proud of myself when I walk into my classroom each day.  I am so grateful for not only my teaching besties (huge shout-out to Melissa and Kristen!), but also to all the new teachers that I have had the opportunity to connect with this summer.  They are all such amazing educators and I look to them for inspiration as I strive towards “my version” of excellence. 

P.S. Don’t worry – I’ve still been able to sleep in (thanks to staying up til 2 am working on school stuff), take my children to all our favorite summer spots (I won’t recommend ice skating though), and we’ve definitely NOT followed any type of schedule AT ALL!!! (And that has truly been excellent!)

Thursday, July 9, 2015


What exactly is Whole Brain Teaching?  No matter if you are already familiar with WBT, or if this is the first time you have heard about it, it’s always nice to know about the scientific details….s’more fun facts will be included too!

Whole Brain Teaching is a teaching system that takes a regular “lecture style” classroom lesson and kicks it up to the highest level of interaction, where students’ brains are fully-engaged in the learning process.  Here are two different lesson types:

In a Regular classroom lesson (aka boring), only two parts of the brain are stimulated:
1.              Wernicke’s Area (Listening)
2.             Hippocampus (Memory Formation). 

In a WBT lesson (aka party!), the entire brain is activated:
1.              Pre-Frontal Cortex (Focusing)
2.             Broca’s Area (Speaking)
3.             Wernicke’s Area (Listening)
4.             Visual Cortex (Seeing Gestures)
5.             Motor Cortex (Making Gestures)
6.             Limbic System (Emotions)
7.             Hippocampus (Memory Formation)
8.             Amygdala (Motivation)

Wow!  That’s a BIG difference!  I mean, just imagine that you’re at the “S’mores-Gabord Galore Cook-off”, and Chef #1 yells, “S’mores are ready!”  Your mouth is watering; you can’t wait to take a big, gooey bite… but then the chef only gives you a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate.  Ummm….this isn’t quite what you were hoping for.  Where’s the marshmallow?  Why isn’t it even warm?  This s’more is sooo boring!  Hey!  It’s actually not fair!  You start to pout, cry, and then get angry.  You even start pushing the girl next to you in line!

Hearing cheers and laughter, you look over to see a big group at Chef #2’s bonfire station, so you decide to see what all the fuss is about.  Ohhh my, it’s not a fuss.  It’s a revolution!  These s’mores are perfectly cooked, with ooey-gooey marshmallows, melted milk chocolate…and…what?!  There’s more?!  Here, the chef is adding on extras - white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter, sliced strawberries or bananas, Andes mints, Nutella,  cinnamon, dulce de leche, salted caramel, even bacon!  This s’more is truly going to be a PARTY in your mouth!!!  Now, this is what you were craving!  Yes!  You feel happy!  You smile, laugh, and then start to dance.  You even give the guy next to you a high-five!

Now – which S’more would you rather have for dessert? 

Which classroom lesson would you rather teach? 

With Whole Brain Teaching, you will be able to create a classroom environment where 100% of your students are actively engaged, highly critical thinking skills will be integrated throughout the curriculum, and disruptive behavior will disappear, all because students are having fun while learning!

Until my next post, go check out these great sites!

P.S. Eating S’mores while WBT’ing at the same time, is, by far, the best thing ever!!!

Friday, July 3, 2015


Picture this:  Over 1,000 women (and a few men) hooting and hollering.  Scores of wild pictures being taken and posted on social media sites.  Long lines of fans waiting in anticipation for autographs.  Was this the premier for Magic Mike XXL?!   No, my friends, this was the scene last week in Pineville, Louisiana at the National Whole Brain Teaching Convention! And the #1 celebrity of this show was none other than Chris Biffle, aka Coach B, aka the creator of Whole Brain Teaching, aka Teaching Legend, aka educational GURU!!!

Celebrities are a breed of people that captivate their audience, ooze charisma, and make you feel like all the troubles of the world have melted away and you are in Heaven.  (Especially when you get the opportunity to meet one.)  Yep.  You heard that right. I met my #1 celebrity last week!  Let me set the stage: Me, standing in a hotel lobby.  I look over into a meeting room and see him. HIM!!!  The hairs on my arms stood up and I knew that I had to make a great first impression.  (I had been dreaming about this moment for 3 years!)  I walked.  Slowly.  Towards him.  I could see that there were other people in the room.  For whatever reason, they were sitting in chairs, all in a circle, with notebooks and laptops.  I kept walking straight into the room, through the circle of people, and right up to my celebrity.  My heart was beating so fast, I thought I was going to faint.  My celebrity, wearing his signature ballcap, stood up to greet me and I introduced myself.  (Y’all, I remembered my name in this moment, and that was a great thing!)  We shook hands.  (I’m never washing my hand again!)  I vaguely noticed the other people in the room had stopped talking.  (Maybe they thought I was a celebrity too?!)  Our conversation only lasted a few minutes, but the analyzing of those few minutes lasted hours.  For real.  Probably 2 hours. More like 4.  (My amazing friend, Melissa, can feel free to comment on this, as she was a witness to all the highs and lows of what can only be described as “Robyn.”) There may or may not have been a slight panic attack involved as part of the analyzing.  The panic attack might have had a little something to do with the fact that immediately after I said goodbye to my celebrity, I realized that I had just CRASHED a meeting that he was conducting in private.  Oops.  (Hey – at least I made an impression, right?!)

Wow!  After 3 years of admiring via Youtube videos and webinars, I finally met Coach B, the man who has extraordinarily improved the way I teach!  Not only did I get to meet him, but I was able to see him in action, from my front row seat, over the course of 3 days at the National Whole Brain Teaching Conference in Louisiana!  This guy owns the triple threat of teaching.  As a highly-engaging educator, he has all the right moves.  (WBT hand gestures, that is!)  During his presentations, he has just the right mixture of seriousness and humor.  (I mean, who else can talk about the profound effects on the brain WBT has in children, while also referring to the ridiculousness of this season’s Bachelorette?!) And when it comes to singing…well, I was a witness to his performance of a “Yo-ho-ho” pirate song.  (It was YouTube worthy!)  Coach B is, by far, my favorite celebrity.  (Sorry to break it to you, Magic Mike!)

Can Coach B captivate an audience?  If having over a thousand women (and a few men) hoot and holler for you isn’t proof for being captivating, I don’t know what is!   Does he ooze charisma?  Only wildly charismatic people are asked for hundreds of photos and autographs!  What about that invitation to Heaven? Without a doubt, Coach B knows the secret to TEACHER HEAVEN, where all your teaching troubles really will melt away.  I have experienced Teacher Heaven, first-hand, over the past 3 years, and I can’t wait to share the secret with you in upcoming posts that will highlight the remarkable world of Whole Brain Teaching! 

P.S.  I’m pretty sure I made a lasting first impression on Coach B – he said, “Good for you!” when I apologized later for crashing his meeting. (Even if I’m only remembered as that infatuated teacher from Oklahoma!)