Primary Chalkboard: The Schroeder Page
Showing posts with label The Schroeder Page. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Schroeder Page. Show all posts

Executive Brain Function in the Primary Classroom

Friends~Executive Brain Function!  I know, I totally thought what in the world is that when I heard it the first time too!  But, as teachers we are masters of this and don't know it.  

Let's back up a bit. Many of you don't know that last school year,  I made a MAJOR change in my career and moved to a brand-new Brain Based charter school Bradford Preparatory School! (No building in place=pulling a wagon to school each day until our mobile units were placed on site after a month of school!)  Also, moved to first grade after 8 years in 2nd grade.  So a new school and new grade and a totally new out look on education! 

It was a CRAZY school year but it turned out to be the very best thing I have ever done!!!

Back to EF!  Once the school year ended,  I was asked to compile some information about Executive Function and what a Brain Based classroom looks like. I have spent my summer reading and meeting with one of the founder's of the school.  What did I discover?  I have been tapping into EF in my classroom for years and never knew it.  I just knew that certain things worked. 

Below is a great introduction video of what Executive Function is and how it relates to our primary classrooms.  
I love how this video talks about EF being like an air traffic controller in the brain.  When I watched this,  I totally began to have a different outlook on how students function in the classroom and how I should react to their behaviors.  

It is easy to see students that are struggling with behavior as making that "CHOICE" but truly much of it is about their delay in brain development. 

That is true for students struggling with learning concepts or staying organized.  Things that would drive me crazy like messy desks or forgetfulness,  I am finding are just delays in their EF development.  

So, exactly what is Executive Function? 
In a nutshell, EF is 
~Being able to focus, hold, and work with information in mind, filter distractions, and switch gears 
Not an easy task for many learners!

 How does it relate to our classrooms? 
 I am going to bullet the functions for you and also show how you are already helping to support EF in your classroom! 
~Goal Setting
~Planning & Strategizing
~Sequencing and Ordering
~Task Initiation
~Working Memory
~Time Management
~Task Persistence
~Emotional Regulation
Goal Setting: Hello??? Our Data Binders and Behavior Plans
Planning and Strategizing: Student Conferences Classroom Jobs and Morning Meeting
Sequencing and Ordering: Music/Chants, Visual Cards and Posters, Classroom Schedules, and Color Coded Groups
Task Initiation: Must Do Activities and Daily 5 Choice
Working Memory: Chants/Songs, Visuals, and Review
Time Management: Visuals, Timers, Posted Times, and a Predictable Schedule
Task Persistence: Routines and Class Pledges
Emotional Regulation: Behavior Expectations, Whole Brain Rules, Cool Down Areas, Character Ed, Brain Breaks and Fidgets

Below are some of the resources that I have been reading and watching to help you on your journey.  
I am totally not an expert but I am loving the new light EF is shining on me as a teacher. 


I sure hope this post gets you thinking about your students and how you are already doing AWESOME things in your classroom to support their Brain Development.  I also hope this post sparks your interest a bit and drives you to research ways that you can make your EF in your classroom even better.  (That is where I am at right now!) 

Classroom Debate!

Friends~I love debating in class with my first graders!  Nothing makes me prouder than to see these little guys share their opinions and back them up with facts!  

Each Friday, we have a classroom debate after morning meeting.  Since we just finished our unit on the Iditarod and sled dogs we debated about what was the best pet~Cat or Dog.  

It is so simple to do!  I just grab a sentence strip and write a question or statement on it.  I laminate it and add magnets to the back.  I place it on the board and my students chant THINK!  After they have thought a bit, I place 2 cards on either side of the question.  The cards are the choices for the debate.  

I then say HUDDLE and the kiddos split into 2 groups to discuss facts to support their thinking.  I then say DEBATE and they break into 2 groups.  

The students then stand so that they can begin to discuss their points on the topic.  I ask the students to agree with or disagree with a speaker.  They must have a fact to support their statements.  

As a class, we have been working on eye contact and poise as part of our speaking and listening goals. 
Give it a shot in your classroom!  It is such a confidence builder:)  
Check out more fun over on The Schroeder Page !

You can also check out my Discussion Towers to get your kiddos talking with each other!  

 photo signature-39.png

Morning Meeting Ideas

Friends~Do you host a morning meeting with your class?  I do, and it is one of my most favorite parts of the day.  It truly sets the tone for how our day will unfold.  It helps to build a strong classroom community all year long.  I am so lucky that at my new school we have time set aside in grades K-4 to have morning meeting each and every day! 

Today, I am going to share with you some ideas to get your own morning meeting time started!

I was so lucky this year to be working with a morning meeting master!  I got to observe one of our 2nd grade teachers this year that has been doing morning meeting forever. Mrs. Poling has the best format and her's is so directed towards character education.  She starts each week off with a word of the week.  Like this week was COOPERATION.  She reads a book at each morning meeting that goes along with the word of the week.  She even has a song for each word!  So AWESOME! She introduced me to these great CDs by Red Grammar.  They are perfect for morning meeting.  We use the Just Say Hi as our signal to begin MM.  Student head up to the front and sit in a circle and sing along!

Some ideas for Words of the Week are: 
Compassion, Active Listening, and Self Control

I highly recommend you get yourself a squeaky     hammer! I use a squeaky hammer to call the meeting to order and my students get a huge kick out of it. I always welcome them in a fun way.  You can see some ideas below.  After I call the meeting to order, we count off to check our attendance.  

We also welcome each other with a fist bump, hand shake, or a high five! 
Next, we get to our shares.  The students love this time because they get to share their exciting news with the class.    
I love this book for keeping my morning meeting on track.  It has awesome ideas and tips!

 I use our stuffed hedgehog Henrietta to choose students to share.  I pass the Henrietta around and the students hold her in their laps as they share.  (This really helps in the beginning when the students are a bit nervous.) After each share, I say THINK and the students put their heads down and think of a comment or question about the share.  The student who shared chooses two students to call on.  During this time we are working on eye contact and listening skills.  

We also say our class pledge and work some brain gym to We Are the Champions by Queen! 
I love to get them up and moving as much as possible.  Check them out below activating both sides of their brains and pledging to show courage!

We also review our ABC sounds and read our word wall at the end of every morning meeting.  Starting in January, I began having a student lead morning meeting.  At my school, we work on special goals for presenting like voice level and poise.  Morning Meeting is a perfect time for my kiddos to practice this! 
Grab some FREE information about our ENRICH goals and how my morning meeting leader is assessed by clicking HERE!
I am always amazed at how much we accomplish during this time! 
We then meet again up front for calendar time and also to focus on our word of the week.  Sometimes, like Mrs. Poling we will read a story that goes along with our word or we may do some role playing.  I like to mix it up a bit.  The cool thing is grades K-4 all have the same word of the week so we are all focusing on the same skill.  

You can check out more of my morning meeting ideas by clicking the picture below.  My Morning Meeting Manual will get you started on your way to a successful morning meeting!
You can also see how I lead morning meeting in a much tighter schedule at my old school.  Still one of my 2nd graders favorite parts of the day!  Just click my blog button below to get started!

Bubble Science

Friends~It's Monica Schroeder from The Schroeder Page.  I am really excited to be blogging over here at The Primary Chalkboard!  Today I am going to share something super fun and science-ie with you. 
As the end of the school year approaches, this is one of my go to lessons to keep my kiddos engaged and loving learning.  
I start by simply creating a KWL with my students.  This is a great way to tap into prior knowledge and allow students to generate questions about this seemingly familiar topic.

I then break my students into partners and pass out some bubble facts.  This is a perfect way to help them answer their questions and also learn some quick facts. 
We then read this book called POP! A Book About Bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  
It is an easy read but it is packed full of tips on how bubbles are formed.  
This is my go to video!  It always sucks them into the magical world of bubbles. 
It is from the Discovery Channel on Soap Bubble Science. 
Give the picture a click to check it out!
We then participate in some super fun bubble science experiments that connect with our solids, liquids, and gases science goal.  
Check out a few experiments below:
Click the video below to see my son experimenting with blowing bubbles on our table at home.  
I was truly not sure this would work but it did and was totally awesome!

My kiddos loved this experiment and it is great for predicting.  I start by asking my students if they blew a bubble through a cookie cutter, would it make a different shape?  
I then present them with several cookie cutters and small trays of my favorite solutions. 
Click the picture above to download a FREE copy of my recording sheet for this experiment. 
This is only the beginning! You can touch on surface tension or even head into creative writing with bubbles. 
Here are some other fun ideas:
*Bubblegum Blowing Contest
*Pass out wedding bubbles as learning souvenirs.
*Use mini compass rings to track the direction of bubbles.
You can check out more of my Bubble Science by clicking below or give my blog button a click to read about how my class raised praying mantises and more!