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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Study Part 5: Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids

Welcome to week 5 of our Whole Brain Teaching Book Study.   This week we are talking about chapters 15-18 which cover some of the big ideas related to Scoreboard.  I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on last week's post.  It is not to late to join in!  If you want to catch up, just grab a copy of the book and pick up where we are or go back and comment on past posts.  Here is the posting schedule.

Chapter 15: The Super Improvers Team

The idea of creating a system where everyone is rewarded for improvement is great.  "The race is more rewarding and motivating when we stop racing each other and race against ourselves."  School will not be a successful place for most learners if this does not happen.  I feel like the shift to differentiated instruction along with the emphasis my school has placed on having math and literacy specialists has done a great deal toward moving kids and parents to a different mindset.  The system described for the Super Improvers Team seems very manageable and I think most of my students would respond really well to that type of motivation.

Chapter 16: State Test Scores and the Super Improvers Team

I know most teachers and students dislike the state test and avoid thinking about it at all costs.  However, state tests remain important mainly because like it or not the scores are reported to the community and are often how a school is judged by the general public.  To me, the most important thing in this chapter is to make sure "students have something concrete and specific to do as opposed to engaging in mystifying mental activities." In my own school, test scores have improved greatly over the last 10 years in part because we have done a better job designing and implementing interventions and in part because we have become better at helping kids develop test taking skills.  

Chapter 17 and 18: Practice Cards

When a student is not following one or more of the classroom rules, the next step is practice cards.  The practice cards are given to students who are continuously breaking a rule.  They have to spend 2 minutes practicing the rule during each recess and lunch break for the rest of the day.  Additionally, a not is sent home to parents about the rule they are struggling with and instructions to practice the rule.  My favorite idea from this chapter is assigning another adult on campus as a substitute parent for those kids who come from families that are unwilling to participate in school related paperwork like signing a note about working on rules.  This seems like it would be an effective way to provide these students another adult they could trust, confide in and that would be checking in on their progress. 

As the year progresses to keep things fresh and ensure students continuously work toward following the rules, purple and green practice cards are introduced.  I like how these cards reinforce positive behaviors, especially how students are encouraged to keep a tally of how many times they follow the classroom rule.  

What are your thoughts on the Super Improvers Team and Practice cards?  Do these have a place in your classroom?  


  1. I haven't read the book, Tara, but am intrigued by the idea of engaging other adults on campus to ensure student accountability. That sounds like an idea that would have benefits far beyond some of the traditional mentoring programs.
    Thanks for sharing this book study!

  2. I like the idea of practice cards for the continual rule-breakers. I'm thinking of a few right now:)

  3. The practice cards sound very practical. I also like the idea of having the child tally the times they follow the rule.
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  4. I love my Super Improver Team! It is new for me this year and it is wonderful. I continue to add WBT strategies to my class and I love the student engagement.