Monday, August 4, 2014

The Art of Improving Student Behavior

Since I have been using Whole Brain Teaching for about two years and have been selected as one of this year's interns, I have set two goals for myself in order to grow as a Whole Brain Teacher.  One of those goals is establishing a Super Improver Team.

After reading Chapters 15 and 16 in Chris Biffle's Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids, I was eager for more information.  I immediately went to the Whole Brain Teaching website and looked for the webinar connected to this behavior management theory.  

On a bread crumbing journey through the wondrous world of Super Improvers, I also found this amazing video of a teacher, Deanna Schuler, expressing her experience after using the SIT for a short time.  She tells an amazing story about a boy who was a challenge and whose behavior improved in a very short time all because of this technique.  After watching the videos, I felt confident and ready to put it all together.

Then, as a mere coincidence, Nancy Stoltenberg, emailed our group of interns a blog post. She was working on establishing which items were some of the needed Whole Brain elements used in classroom set up.  There she connected me to even more resources!

Today, I went into my classroom and began setting up my Super improver Team area.  First, I went to Office Depot with my flash drive full of WBT posters and charts that I had to have in color.  After some cutting and laminating, I was ready to assemble my wall!
Here is Tara West's TPT store where I downloaded these beauties!

I chose a place in the front of my classroom that was near the area where I do a majority of my whole group lessons.  In general, this location is very easily accessible any time of the day.  I attached the colored levels in order from the Beginner up to the Genius level.  The colors represent rungs in a ladder with no top rung.  The idea is that a student can always improve their behavior or achievement goals.  
Once I receive my class list, I will add a white card with each child's name on it and insert them into the blue pocket chart.  As the students work to show they are following the rules and working hard to increase their achievement, each student can earn a star on their white card.  Once they earn ten, their success is celebrated by exchanging their white card for the next color level and of course a round of ten finger woos would certainly be in order.  

The greatest part of this system is that it is all positive and students are competing against themselves to improve their behavior, social, and academic achievement.  "If we focus on student improvement in academic activities and social growth, then scores on state tests will take care of themselves.  Nothing will produce higher test results than a class of students who are continuously striving to break their own personal records." (Biffle, 2013)

As students move up the rungs of the ladder, it is important to reward them with leadership opportunities and just pure fun.  Chris Biffle has many suggestions for ways to maintain student interest.  When a student reaches level 4, take a picture of the child and a few friends making funny faces.  Bring the photo in and put it on the wall backwards.  In order for the child to turn the picture around, the student will have to earn five more stars.  He suggests adding this photo bonus on every other rung after level four.  Another motivator, is to give those students who attain a leader level the opportunity to lead the class with a class call-out.  You could signal the identified leader and the student could call out, "Class!" signaling the class to say, "Yes!" 

I know what you are thinking now.  "What about those students who aren't following the rules?"  Chapter 17:  Practice Cards, targets individual behavior problems.  As soon as I read it, I had another one of those "AH HA!" moments.  Chris Biffle urges that those impulsive students who continuously resist the rules, simply need practice.  

For this aspect, you will need to create a section of your board that identifies your students by number and not name.  It is important to respect the anonymity of the student and will help you maintain control.  
Here is a look at Nancy Stoltenberg's Numbered Student Chart.

As you are teaching and a student keeps calling out answers.  The first step is to call out, "Rule 2!"  The class will answer, "Raise your hand for permission to speak, please stop."  If this doesn't eliminate the problem, remaining calm and not calling attention to the student is key.  In order to keep the lesson moving forward and maintain control, add a white Rule 2 Practice Card to the student's numbered pocket.  This is merely managerial for you, so that you can easily remember those students who require practice.  The key is that no more than two practice cards should be added to a students chart per day.  

Doing this allows the lesson to continue and signals to the student that you are aware of their behavior.  During recess, lunch or another free time during the day, give the child the practice card and set a timer for 1-2 minutes.  For example, if the student needs to practice Rule 2, he or she would sit there and repeat the rule and practice the gesture repeatedly the entire time.  This gives the child "additional time to focus on a problem she was having with a specific behavior." (Biffle, 2013)  Biffle also describes this as a powerful experience for this child to practice this rule over and over again.

Another level of SIT and what defines the "T" as "team" is what you see on the left of my board.  Sometimes, there are many students who require additional practice with a certain rule or skill.  We have all had those classes who are chatty or highly energetic.  As this need develops, you would provide a class goal for the students to work on.  It is very important that they must work extremely hard to earn a point on the board for the class.  Note individual improvement but only reward the class when you have achieved exceptional compliance.  These points are gained separately from the color cards.  The clincher is how to use these points.  On Fridays, total the points and only those students who will gain a level from the points will actually benefit from them.  For example, if a student has 9 stars on a level and the class has earned 1 bonus point, this student would be able to utilize the bonus point and move up a color level.  If another student has 5 stars, one point would not help this student and therefore there is no benefit for them this time.

As you can see, this Super Improver Team is so complex and filled with infinite possibilities.  Stars can be earned for anything the child improves upon.  If they decrease their time in a Super Speed Challenge, raise a test score, or raise their hand in lieu of blurting out, a child can earn a star and show improvement.  What an amazing opportunity to show how to track 100 or more improvements a child can make within a school year.  I cannot wait to get started.


1 comment:

  1. This is great Amanda...thanks for including me in this experience. It's a way for a student to guide his own behavior and thus his learning experience..I can't wait to see how you have all of this set up in your classroom!