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Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 4 Setting Up Your WBT classroom---Genius Ladder

Today was a long day in the classroom.  After 5 hours this afternoon of moving stuff from my old classroom and realizing I have too much crud excellent teaching materials....I finally got to work on my Genius Ladder.  I did get to put up some writing station focus station materials and some library station focus wall materials.  Overall it was a productive day.  I cleaned out alot of trash, got my grid up on my Power Pix wall, and got some furniture rearranged.

Now, onto the WBT part of the day!  I decided this year to be a bit creative with my Genius Ladder.  I loved seeing all the pictures of cute ladders last year and my poor kiddos just had a white board with the levels written on it.  They had cute little personal Genius Ladders they kept in their desks for reference but not something cute and exciting in the classroom.

Well this year we are stepping up our game.  Since I will be looping with my kiddos this year most of them will know how the Genius Ladder works and what kind of writing expectations I have.  This is  one area where my husband and I will be team teaching.  I will teach writing to all the 1st graders and he will be teaching Science/Social Studies.  So they will rotate between us for instruction.  I am super excited to be teaching writing this year.  It will be the first year that Writing (in addition to Language) will be taught.  We will start the year off with the WBT Writing game (find more information at and transitioning into the Genius Ladder.

My goal this year is to have each of our 1st graders become a published author by the end of the year.  Of course they will be 1st grade published authors but what a goal!!  I believe that with the writing game and the Genius Ladder we will reach our goal.  It might be a poem.  It might be a short story.  Whatever my students decide to come up with we will work hard to reach our goal.

To set up the pictures let me lay out the foundation of the the Genius Ladder.  Our students writing abilities have declined.  It is a shame that students in high school are struggling to writing simple paragraphs that have meaning and complexity.  In college, there are workshops offered for students to have their work proofread and revised.  We just don't put alot of focus on writing these days.  In comes the Genius Ladder.

This amazing tool helps students take basic (BLAH) sentences and turn them into complex and meaningful (GENIUS) sentences in a systematic way.  In kinder, this is done primarily orally however, two years ago I had a class that could do the ladder on paper with partners.  The sky is the limit.  In 1st grade our goal will be for each student to be able to take a blah sentence and  and turn it into a genius sentence independently.  Here are the levels we will be working with in 1st.

BLAH:  This is your basic sentence. Students will understand that all sentences have a noun and a verb.  They  will be able to identify the noun and verb and replace them with different nouns and verbs to create their own blah sentences. EX:  The dog runs.

SPICY:  Adding and adjective always make a sentence more interesting.  Students will learn what an adjective is and be able to label them along with the noun and verb.  They will also be able to interchange with other spicy words. EX:  The black dog runs.

EXTENDER:  This is where students get to add more information to their sentences for the reader.  In upper grades this would look like prepositional phrases.  In kinder/1st we will simply refer to them as MORE INFO!  EX:  The black dog runs over the hill.

GENIUS:  Oh TEACHER HEAVEN!!! This level is where it gets good.  Our 1st graders will learn how to use BECAUSE to tell us why the noun in their sentence is doing what it's doing.  After the "because" clause is mastered we will add the "because/and" clause.  EX.  The black dog runs over the hill because he sees a rabbit.  EX:  The black dog runs over the hill because he sees a rabbit and he is hungry.

I hope this gives you some help on how you can take your kinders and firsties all the way up the ladder.    Once we are able to writing sentences like the last example we will begin working on paragraphs by using adder sentences.  More on this can be found in the WBT Writing Game.

If you made it this far THANK YOU!  Here are some pictures from my classroom work today!  ENJOY and WIB ON!!!!!

-----NOTE:  When blogger stops acting weird I will upload some more pictures.  But the main one of the Genius Ladder is here!!!

Wib on!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

And the winner is.....

Oh I just couldn't choose and figured you all deserved it :)!  So email me at and I will give you link to down load it :)!  Thank you so much for being faithful followers!!  Make sure you let me know who you are (if your name isn't in your post below)!

Love and Blessings,
Wib on!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

100 Follower GIVEAWAY!!!

I'm just tickled pink to have reached 100 followers!  Howe exciting!  To celebrate this blogging milestone I am giving away a copy of my Long V-Owl-S Word Work Unit!  Register below to be entered into a random drawing!  Entry will be open until Sunday Evening at 10:00 CST!  The following are the ways you can enter:

1.  Follow Fabulous Firsties--comment when you do, if you are already a follower just leave a comment to that effect
2.  Share Fabulous Firsties on Facebook--leave a comment with link when you do
3.  Share the give away on your blog!!!--leave a comment with a link when you do

That's it!  Each of the three gets you an entry!  I will draw winners on Sunday night!  I am going to draw three winners!

Wib on!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 3 Setting up your WBT Classroom---Super Improvers Wall and More

Hello Wibbiteers! Today has been a very productive day. I made it to my classroom about 10:30 this morning and spent 4 hours working. I feel like I didn't get a whole lot done, however, my neighbor thought I had made amazing progress! So onto what I know you all want to see.

Today I worked on three thing specifically: Super Improver Wall, Scoreboard, Practice Card Pocket and Rules.

I got the super improver wall up first because I knew it would take me the longest. For those reading who are not familiar with the SIW let me give you a brief description of how this works in a WBT classroom. If you want to know more you can visit and download the eBook on WBT Model Classrooms for further information.

Super Improver Wall
"Our students, even the quietest, crave recognition...but what form should it take...and what should they be rewarded for? In WBT, we believe students should be rewarded for academic and behavioral improvement. We don't want to reward students for where they are now, but for how far they've come since last month" (Chris Biffle, Model Classroom eBook, 2011).

The super improver wall does just this very thing. It is differentiated and the only one a student is "competing" against is him or herself. It does not matter the academic ability of the student as we can always find improvement in what our students are doing. It could be behavior. It could be academic. It could be that they just washed their hands after using the restroom without being told like the last 100 times. Basically this system lets a student improve and beat their own personal records instead of feeling like they will never catch up to the brightest student in the class.

This is my super improver wall:

The levels are labeled and different colors.  I used  sports theme for my labels to keep things simple and really I don't have a set theme in my classroom this year.  My levels are the same as laid out in the model classroom eBook that Coach Biffle suggests.  The labels are (from top to bottom, left to right):  Fan, Rookie, Starter, Leader, Captain, Star, MVP, Super Star, Hall of Fame, Legend.  I made the labels in Microsoft Word and printed them on regular paper.  I didn't laminate as I never know if I will change them next year or if my super smarty first graders go through the levels before Christmas they may come back to a new set of levels.  Wouldn't that be so cool!   Now, all students start on white and are FANS.  They will have opportunities to earn stars (I will use the little metallic stars because they are cheap and a large pack will usually last all year) and each time I catch them improving on their personal goals they will get to put a star on their white star.  When they get 10 stars on their big white star they will get to take it down, take it home, and I will replace it with a new star in the next color level.  At this point they start all over.

When a student reaches the CAPTAIN level...just so happens to be the end of top row of levels...they will get their picture taken with their friends.  However, this picture can not be seen until that child reaches the next level in the rotation.  After I take the picture, I will print it out and put it under their star FACE DOWN.  Oh how hard they will work to get to the next level just to see that picture.  This process will go on and another photo opportunity will be at level 7 and 9.  Once a child reaches level 10, I will take their picture, issue a certificate of achievement and they will get to eat lunch with a friend from the other 1st grade classroom.  Oh I can see them now trying so hard to get to level 10.

A twist I will be adding in this year to help with critical thinking is Goal Setting.  The first level we are going to be working on following rules and procedures for the class.  However, when a student moves to level 2, they are going to have a goals meeting with me to set a personal goal they want to work on.  I will guide this process based on what I think they need to work on but I believe that the students can really focus in on areas they need to improve.  Perhaps they aren't getting their morning work done on time or perhaps they are struggling using proper voices during small group work.  The possibilities are endless.  But what better way to get a student on board with improving those struggle areas than to have them come up with the area that needs improvement.  It is just pure genius!

The next thing I worked on today was my Student Pockets that will be used for lunch choice as well as Practice Cards later in the year.  Here is a picture of the pocket chart:
Each student has a numbered pocket that will be their number all year.  They must writing it on all their work that must be turned in.  When students enter the room each morning, part of their morning routine is to make a lunch choice.  Our students are required to bring their lunch as we have no onsite cafeteria.  Some students don't bring a lunch in the morning because their parent or guardian brings them a hot meal at lunch.  The lunch must be dropped off at the office due to security at our school.  For my convenience and the office and the welfare of my students, if a students lunch hasn't been dropped off by 11:00 the office starts making calls to parents.  The students will come in and put a green tag in their pocket if they have their lunch in their locker and a red ticket if they don't.  Then I have a quick reference to give the office of whose lunch they should be watching for.  Later in the year, these same pockets will be used for our practice cards...but that is information for another post!

Here is a bigger picture of my rules and the pocket chart and my stations chart.  I then got a little creative and made a yellow smilie and blue frownie for my scoreboard.  For more information on the scoreboard visit and download the free eBook. 

Well Wibbiteers, that about wraps it up!  As you can see I didn't get a whole lot done today.  I did get quite a lot of trash taken out and other bulletin boards up with paper and border.  Hopefully I will get more up on Monday!  Have a happy weekend!!

Wib on and Power to the Teachers!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Long V-OWL-S Literacy Station Pack

I finally finished my Long Vowel Literacy Station unit. This cute unit has an Owl Theme and will cover common and uncommon spellings of long vowels. Students will look for long vowel spellings in words, sort words under correct vowel spellings, and even match long vowel rhyming words (some of which have different spellings but still rhyme)! Below is a thumbnail of some of the pages. Click on the image to visit my TpT store to purchase this unit! Happy Teaching!

Thank you and Power to the Teachers,

Setting up your WBT Classroom--Introduction

Hello there fellow Wibbiteers!  I am back from our 5th annual national conference in Alexandria, Louisiana and boy am I on fire to get started back in my classroom to prepare for next year.   Unfortunately I did not get back to Lubbock until about 2 a.m. on Monday morning.  I had to go into school to turn in travel receipts and such and was looking forward to returning home to veg out and relax for a few days and be back in my classroom today!  Well, as is with most of the best laid plans, mine did not see fruition.  I was informed on Monday that we would be having training on Tuesday and Wednesday for our new kindergarten teachers and my team teacher in 1st (my darling husband) for our reading program.  I wasn't required to attend however it would be best if I could be there to help train.  So my tired self managed to make it in yesterday and today.  With that over I have decided it will probably be Friday before I go in to do any work in my classroom. 

I was however, thinking of all my fabulous friends I met in Louisiana this past week and how I had promised them I was going to do a series on setting up your classroom for Whole Brain Teaching.  I wanted to start that series so I figured I would do a brief introduction into what we I will be doing and setting up.  Then (as I did for day 1 and 2) I will give pictures and play by play of I am doing and setting up.

SOOOOO----let's begin!

Setting up your WBT classroom is not as hard as it sounds.  It will be easy to integrate with what ever curriculum requirements your school has.  Everything that I use in my classroom is integrated into the current existing standards--it does not replace anything.

There are a few things that you will need to implement to have a Whole Brain Teaching Classroom.  Let me give a disclaimer here:  I am not saying that you must implement EVERYTHING on the WBT website into your classroom.  There are however a few distinguishing characteristics of a WBT classroom that you  will need to consider putting in place.  They are as follows:

1. The Rules
2. The Scoreboard
3. Power Pix Focus Wall
4.  Seating that is conducive to Teach-Okay
5.  Genius Ladder

These 6 things in your classroom will give you the beginnings of a Whole Brain Teaching classroom that will blow your administrators socks off.  If you are currently working on certification to become a CERTIFIED WBT INSTRUCTOR you need to be implementing these things in your own classroom as well to become familiar with them and be able to share the great success you are having through your essays!  While becoming a CERTIFIED instructor is relatively about watching webcasts, reading eBooks, attending conferences and then writing AMAZING ESSAYS, if you wish to go further in your Certification you will need to show that you are using these amazing tools in your own classroom as well as shoot video of them being used.  Setting it up from the beginning will help you be ready for those levels of training!

At this point I would like all my fellow Wibbiteers who are following along in setting up your classrooms with me to read up on the top 6 items and then post an amazing essay on the forum for Certification Points.  Never know when I might be reading the forum and see one of your amazing essays and give bonus points!!!

Until next time Wibbiteers,
Wib on

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Behavior Plans???? How about a classroom behavir GAME!!!

So as I peruse all the blogs over the past few days I am seeing more and more posts on behavior plans that teachers are using, modifying, thinking about, creating, and dreading.  I say "pppppppppppppllllllllllllllllllllllllllbbbbbbbbbbbbb" (done in my best 2 year old tongue out style)!!!  I am here to share the most amazing, best invention, and exciting behavior plan GAME that the teaching world has ever seen.  I discovered it about 4 years ago.  After spending money and time, money and time, and more money and time in numerous behavior management systems that only worked for a few months (weeks at times) I found what has to be the only solution ANY teacher needs to have an active engaged classroom that is eating out of her hands on the edge of the seats and ready to learn at a moments notice.  You ask what this amazing behavior GAME is?  You are wondering if it is too good to be true...well...drum roll please.......

You will need the following:
1 White board (in classroom)
1 dry erase marker I have you wondering? Are you waiting with anticipation? Well now you will have to  wait!  I know...I want it NOW!  Over the next week I will be blogging about the amazing behavior game brought to you by Whole Brain Teaching.  If you want an up close and personal discussion and training on our amazing classroom management GAME come see us in Alexandria, Louisiana June 14-16 at Louisiana College.  The conference is free and you just need to visit to register.  But if you can see updates on not join us...keep checking back here to get information on each of the levels of the ONLY classroom management GAME you will ever need again!  If you can't can visit the Whole Brain Teaching and check under the ebooks section to find a free down load explaining the entire program!

Happy Teaching and Blessings!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 2....Work Areas and Bulletin Boards

Well today was a very productive day.  First was trip to the service center to do some laminating!!!  That part is is the cutting out that is a pain in the behind lovely joy!  That's what teenagers are for right?

Then it was back to my classroom to do some rearranging and start putting up some boards and focus walls.  Below are the pictures I took today at the end of my work day.

Technology Station!  I am very blessed to be the only teacher to have a student computer in the classroom!  I begged and begged for this and I used to have 4 but now I am down to only 1!  I am holding onto this for dear life!

The makings of my personal area and my small group instruction area!  It is a disaster at the moment!  I got rid of that clunker of a teacher desk and went down to much better!!!  I am working on some alternative seating ideas for the kids....don't really know what I am going to come up with but I am watching and searching other blogs for ideas!!!  Got some?  Post 'em below!

WBT ATTENTION!!!!  This is the Power Pix wall!  The red is for math and the blue for language arts.  I will be working on getting the grid up soon...but you can see they are pretty big.  The language arts is a bit bigger than the math because we have more LA Power Pix than Math in 1st grade that we will be using.  The grid will go across the entire board however and rows down only one side.  So it is like one big board divided into halves.

Calander and Morning Meeting area!  I used one of my white boards for this.  I will be putting a Math focus wall to the right for other anchor charts that we will be using in Math.  Our math manipulative area is just to the right of this picture and will be the Math Work Station area.  The yellow post it notes are just to tell me what goes in that area of the board...I am a post-it planner :)!

I haven't decided if I am going to paint all my baskets yet.  This is our Work Station Check Out!  Students will look at our Work Stations chart and find the station they should be at.  Then they will go get their  basket with their partner and find the area of the room they will be working in.  This allows me to use so many other resources for each station regardless of the actual work station for that day.  For example:  One week my Word Work Station may need the overhead in their activity.  In this case I would just have them work near the board with their station.  

This will be my Book Nook!  So excited for this little area.  I am thinking about building a tree...perhaps a little hut type area for the students to get in...really working on the design right now...but it will be AWESOME!!!

This is my writing station!  I have the little desk that the students can sit at to write as well as mailboxes for each of the students that will primarily be for their graded work but they can send each other letters.  I don't have all my "writing" supplies in the station's all a work in progress.  That door you see is the door that will separate me and my darling hubby! :)  I am so excited to be team teaching with him this year!

Well that's it for today!  It took a lot to get all this done! I spent about 3 hours in my classroom and don't feel like I made even a dent.  But I did have to go through a lot of trash and throw a whole bunch of stuff away!  Ok...onto planning!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer guide to setting up your classroom for WBT

Well summer is in swing and we are gearing up for another fabulous Whole Brain Teaching year.  Over the past four years I have tried a lot of different things to integrate WBT into my own themes and classroom design.  Some have worked, some have failed, but through it all the basic premise of WBT has held strong.  So as I enter my 9th year of teaching and my 5 year as a WBT, I want to take you along on the journey as I turn a fresh new classroom into a Whole Brain Teaching environment.  I have taught Pre-K for 5 years and just ended my 3rd year in Kindergarten.  I will be entering my first year in 1st grade and will be taking over a classroom that is a blank slate.  I am soooooo excited.  This is a great opportunity for me to hopefully share with all those teachers out there that just don't know where to start!  Each week I will be working in my classroom (no set days) and I will be posting picture updates and descriptions of the WBT components I have created and displayed.  If you would like to set your classroom up in WBT fashion you can follow along.  I would love to see your own personal twists on things as you will see my style put into the components.

Let's start with DAY 1!!!  I had to wait until the outgoing teacher got all of her stuff out of the classroom before I could get into it and see what I had to work with.  There is a lot of furniture.  One of the first things I noticed was this big hunker of a desk that the teacher was using.  It took up a whole lot of unnecessary space so it had to go!  Next I counted my desks and was so excited to find I had 20 MATCHING desks!!!  I have never had a classroom where ALL MY DESKS MATCHED!   After jumping for joy over my matching desks I took the time to start moving furniture and kinda sectioning off areas of the room for literacy stations and small group instruction.  Here are few before pictures to give you an idea of where I am starting. 

 This is the view when you walk in my door.  This big ole ugly visually challenging book display is no longer here.  I have since replaced it with my smaller book display from Kindergarten.  This will be my reading nook and writing center to the left.
 This is from the door just looking to the right.  The gut of my classroom.  It needs a lot of work as you can see.  I did get the big ole teacher desk out so it opened up the room so much.  Can't wait to start working on the "making it pretty" part of my classroom.

I will be working one day next week before heading to Louisiana for our WBT National Conference (for more information check out Whole Brain  I hope to see all your amazing faces there and know that we will have so much fun!!!

Also, if you are interested in becoming a Certified WBT Trainer, tune into the live webcast with Coach B and the team on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.  For times in your area visit the website link above and look for it on the home page.  Also check out WBT on Facebook!

Love and Blessings Fellow Teachers,