An Apple A Day- Whole Group Instruction

It's time to link up with The Applicious Teacher for An Apple a Day!
This week our focus is on whole group instruction and I think this topic is pretty important!  Don't you?  If your whole group lesson falls apart nothing can save you (except maybe recess)!  Small groups fall apart and independent work is impossible if your whole group instruction doesn't have structure.  Today I am going to share with you my structure for whole group instruction. 

See what I did there?  I snuck (word?) an objective in there. "Today we will..." or "Students will..." statements are used often in my classroom and it really has changed my outlook on whole group instruction.   We started using posted objectives in our district about 7 years ago.  At first it was a pain....I won't lie.  Writing them was difficult and remembering to put them on the board was even worse.  Thankfully we adopted Teach 4 Success a short time later and the objective writing process got a lot easier.  We simply post an objective with an "observable" verb.  In other words you want to be able to see your students reach the goal with them reading, writing, listing, solving, or sharing.
  • Students will solve addition word problems. 
  • Students will list descriptive words. 
  • Students will compare and contrast two fairy tales using a Venn diagram. 
The most important part of using objectives is to USE OBJECTIVES!  You can't just post them on the board and forget about them.  My lesson starts with the objective, I refer to it (most of the time) a couple of times during the lesson, and at the end of the lesson I ask my students, "Did we meet our objective?".  Here is an example of where I post my objectives in my room. 

Ok....this one was a joke for my principal and a much needed objective the last week of school.  I borrowed it from Whole Brain Teaching and it's one of my favorites of the 5 rules!  On a NORMAL day I have an objective written for Daily 5 (sometimes 2....one for Read to Self and one for Word Work), Math, Writing, and Science or Social Studies.  If I don't put the objectives up....the kids freak out! Seriously!  They love knowing what to expect!

Where do you teach from?  I am a big believer in proximity.  If my students are at their regular seats I need something to draw them in.  I like using:
Document Camera:  I first saw one of these in a math training about 4 years ago.  I am so THANKFUL our district bought them for us.  I no longer have to make overheads (woohoo) and students can share their work with the rest of the class.  I love it!
 
Mimio Teach (Turns your board into a SMART board!)  I use this in conjuction with a lot of different websites like Brain Pop Jr., Turtle Diaries, and Scott Foresman Success Net.  Sometimes the whole lesson is done on the Mimio and sometimes it's just to show an example.  I will tell you though, kids sit up and pay attention if they know we are going to use this baby!
AND 
  
My Redcat Sound System for sharing.  The kids LOVE talking into the mircrophone!
If kids aren't getting up and solving problems in front of the class or sharing their math, science, or writing journals they get bored.  It's super important to make this a norm in the first few weeks of school so kids feel comfortable speaking in front of the class.  Let me tell you, it's much easier to get a 1st grader to share in front of their peers than a 5th grader!  I spend a lot of time creating a culture of caring and cooperation so we all feel safe and eager to share!
If I'm not teaching from the front of the room, you will usually find me at our meeting area.  I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, to find a huge rug to fit my 25 kiddos but I've never been able to swing it.  So I usually have a space laid out on the floor with tape or some type of markings so they know where to sit and I teach most of my lessons from this space.  

This is a really bad pic but that's good so I didn't have to blur out any kids!  My husband stopped by my class the first day of school (as he usually does) and snapped this one on his phone.  This was my first class that I didn't have to put any tape on the floor.  They could handle our rug area without having to "sit on the line" but most of the time I do tape.  Gorilla tape works the best....but it leaves marks!  Pretty duct tape works well too but you have to replace it a couple times a year. 

Lesson Delivery.  It is my belief that every teacher has their own style and this cannot be "taught".  I get crazy with my kids but they know my expectations.  We do crazy cheers to celebrate each other and hoot and holler every time we make a new discovery.  I can get their attention saying the craziest of sayings but they know it's time to listen.  I noticed after teaching a couple of joint lessons with my bestie that she has all the same type of ideas, but they belong to her.  I "own" mine.  I don't mean they are copyrighted by me, I mean they work for me.  You can't observe a teacher and then start copying everything they do because it just doesn't work.   I've seen people try and it's a disaster.  Find out what works for you and what fits your personality, then go with that.  I could describe my teaching style as a lot of Whole Brain Teaching, a little bit of Dr. Jean, and the rest is just me.  I'm hoping next year I can just confidently say, "I Teach like a pirate!"  (I am REALLY enjoying this book!)

If you haven't already you should link up for "An Apple a Day" even if it's just to go check out some great ideas about Whole Group Instruction.  

Until next time....happy teaching! ~Heather