Whole Brain Teaching & CAFE: Gestures for Reading Strategies

If you are like me, once you start using Whole Brain Teaching, you start using their principles for everything!

The concepts of movement, gestures, repetition, teaching each other, and having purposeful fun in class makes the day more enjoyable for my students and best of all, me! Can't beat that :)

This is the second year I have been using Daily 5 and the CAFE headers in my class for teaching reading and I love it! I recently was working with a small group of students during our guided reading "Teacher Time" and we were discussing a comprehension strategy. I found myself pointing to the side of my head with my index finger while saying "understand" and voila, the idea of combining gestures with the CAFE board was born.

Here are the signs and corresponding gestures in italics:
Comprehension (point both index fingers to your temples): I understand what I read (point both fingers to your temples and then put both palms together and open them, as if you were opening a "book")

Accuracy (point both index fingers to your temples): I can read the words (point both fingers to your eyes and then put both palms together and open them, as if you were opening a "book")

Fluency (point both index fingers to your mouth): I can read accurately and with expression (point both fingers to your mouth and then put a palm out into the air, palm up, like an opera singer-- this is a fun one!)

Expand Vocabulary (move both index fingers from your temples out during "Expand" and move both index fingers out from your mouth for "Vocabulary"): I know (place index fingers on your temples), find (place index fingers on your temples) and use (move both index fingers out from your mouth) interesting words (point both index fingers up to the sky-- like a lightbulb is going off!)

In my small group, we practiced teaching these to our partners and, although we haven't added too much to our CAFE board, I love the fact that they now know and can teach others what each header means! This really helps my kids who need the CAFE strategies the most! I don't think they had quite grasped what some of these headers meant until we were tapping our brains & eyes and making "books" with our hands.

I hope this is helpful to those of you delving into both WBT & Daily 5. If you use these, or any other gesturing with Daily 5, leave me a comment, I would love to add more moves to our repetoire!!

If you are interested in the Chevron CAFE Headers, they can be downloaded for free from my TpT Store HERE.


This Year's Daily 5 Anchor Charts

I had posted my Daily 5 Anchor Charts for last year HERE, but wanted to give you a quick follow-up with this year's charts.

I don't make them exactly like the book, and you can probably see the differences pretty quickly.

I incorporate one of our school's character assets under each of the options. This gives the kids the chance to think about that asset as they work in that session and I can also draw out some pretty cool character asset compliments during this time, like, "I love how so-and-so is showing so much respect toward our iPod!" during Listen to Reading.

I also don't always put "Teachers are:" on the right-hand side of the charts. We do that for the first chart on Read to Self, but afterwards, I like to use the space to write down choices they have during that time. This helps answer a lot of questions about what they should be working on and gives them huge visual clues in case they forget :)

Without further ado...


For more information on how I use Daily 5 in my classroom, click HERE.


Making Smart Choices at Recess + a Freebie :)

This year, I have switched my Class Rule #4 from "Raise your hand to speak or stand." to Whole Brain Teaching's Rule #4 "Make smart choices." I like this quite a bit because I think it can be more easily incorporated into lots of different lessons and teachable moments throughout the day. Plus, we move around a LOT in our class, so this fits my style a bit more :)

PS- This gesture is tapping our index finger to our temple three times.
This rule was quite nice when it came to nipping some daredevil-ish behavior on the playground the other day. I came up with a quick worksheet and we have been discussing as a class what smart choices on the playground look like using this Making Smart Choices at Recess sheet.

I partnered up the kids and we went outside to hang out in the different areas of our playground. We focused on our four main parts of the playground: the swings, play structures, field, and four square. Partners walked around to each area and jotted down 3-5 bullet points about what smart choices looked like in these areas.

I then had them work on the back side of the page and brainstorm what smart choices looked like when it came to behavior with friends, other grade levels, and what we should do when the bell rings to come inside. The last square was their best parting advice about what to "always remember" when it came to recess choices.

Some of the great "Always Remember..." responses included:
  • Be kind
  • Treat others the way you want to be treated
  • Don't cheat
  • Say nice things
  • Don't whine (lol!)
  • Be safe
  • Follow the rules
  • To have fun and just be kind to one another
It was a great activity and gave us the chance to get outside, go over the rules in a kid-focused way and reiterate some of the rules in a way that was geared towards "smart choices" as opposed to me lecturing for hours on end- yay!

I have posted this for FREE on Google Docs HERE. Since I know that your playground probably has different areas, I left the last page blank so you can add in four sections of your choosing.

Happy Wednesday!


Quick Management Tip: Ask 3 Before Me (Repost)

I have posted about this strategy before, but it was tucked into the middle of some Daily 5 info, and I definitely feel it deserves a spot of its own... especially this time of year!

Do you ever find yourself answering questions about directions you gave just a few seconds ago? Do you have students interrupting your conferences with another student to ask you where something is located in the classroom?

My solution is to introduce Ask 3 Before Me. I have used this for many years and LOVE it!

The basic idea is that if a student is wondering where something gets turned in, where something is in the class, any of those types of questions, and you are in the middle of something important, you can simply say, "Ask 3 Before Me" and hold up three fingers. This means they can ask three students in class their question and if no one knows the answer, they can come back to you. Later on, I only hold up three fingers as a reminder of this policy.

Here is a video from Teaching Channel that explains Ask 3 Before Me beautifully:

Here are some additional helpful tidbits:
  • We talk a lot about making good choices when it comes to who to ask. If you weren't paying attention to the directions because you were talking to a friend, they probably aren't a good person to ask because you were both not following Rule #1: Listen when your teacher is talking :)
  • I never, ever, ever {cue Taylor Swift song that my girls were singing today} have a student do this if they are unsure of an academic concept or if they are legitimately questioning something. This is simply a reminder for my students to not always rely on me and to not only ask others, but to also try to problem-solve (and listen!) the first time. I loved the correlation to real-life business in the above video!
  • I hang a sign on the side of my desk and near my teaching chair in the meeting area to remind kids of this procedure. This allows me to hold up three fingers and point to the sign if I need to :)
There are quite a few SUPER-CUTE signs from Down Under Teacher in her TpT Store!! She has:
Check them out!

I also made one that matches a lot of signage in my room, like my Class Rules and some of my other projects. You can grab it for FREE from Google Docs HERE.

Freebie Fridays

Do you use Ask 3 Before Me in your class? How does it go?


Whole Brain Teaching: 10+ Finger Woo & It's Cool

I hope your school years have gotten off to a great start! Mine has been busybusybusy and I have been trying out some new things that I definitely need to tell you about :)

Two of them I discovered this summer at the Whole Brain Teaching Conference. They are fun ways to acknowledge a student and also a way to cheer a kiddo up if he/she makes a mistake. They are the Ten Finger Woo and It's Cool.

Ten+ Finger Woo

This is the simplest way to acknowledge a student who has volunteered/shared an answer/done something awesome in my class. I use the Clip Chart for good behavior, but for quick, classroom-wide acknowledgements or to give a shout-out to a pair or small group of kids, the 10+ Finger Woo is perfect.

I will simply say, "Let's give so-and-so a 10 Finger Woo!" and then all of the kids will put their hands out in front of them and wiggle their fingers while shouting a "woo!". It's awesome :) You can't help but smile, whether you are the person giving or receiving, so it's perfect :) :)

Then, when I was watching a super-helpful WBT video, I saw the idea of making the woo! even bigger!

Click to the 2:10 time to see it in action:

I loved it! Now, I can say to my kids, "Let's give so-and-so a 13 Finger Woo!" and my students and I will wave our ten fingers while giving one longer "woo!" and then count with fingers using short "woos" three times.

I love this variation because it forces the kids to listen carefully so they can add the right amount of ones on to the end.... and who doesn't love an activity that helps kids practice careful listening?

Oh, and it's even better when you can have the kids give themselves a 10+ Finger Woo- they point their fingers towards them and it's way cooler than giving yourself a pat on the back :)

It's Cool

Lovelovelove this! Do you ever die a little when a kiddo volunteers to share their answer and it's wrong? Their little shoulders drop and they probably wish they could crawl under the table for a while. Sigh... I hate that :( WBT to the rescue with "It's Cool!"

Anytime someone messes up by giving a wrong answer, simply say to them as a class, "It's cool!" in an it's-okay-because-we-all-make-mistakes-so-no-biggie kind of voice while shrugging your shoulder.

I loved presenting this to the kids because I am ALWAYS mixing things up, losing my place in a read aloud when I get lost on a tangent teachable-moment, misplacing papers to pass out, you name it and so the kids get TONS of practice by saying "It's cool!" to me ;)

We then talk about how we always make mistakes, but that making mistakes is proof you are trying. If you are too afraid to take a risk because you're afraid you might fail, then you'll never try something new and never get to experience the thrill of success. Creating a culture of "It's cool!" when mistakes are made is a great way to build a try-new-things community and a successful year ahead.

Check out this AWESOME poster from Shannon @ technology rocks. seriously.

Read more about these strategies from WBT's website HERE.

I'm sending along a virtual 10 Finger Woo to all of you- it's almost halfway through the week! Woooo!

**UPDATE** If you're looking for some alternatives to the 10-Finger Woo!, check out this post HERE. Enjoy!


Better Bucket Filling "Buckets"

I love Bucket Filling and incorporating it throughout our day and year. It is such a fantastic way of thinking about our words and actions and the best part is that it's so simple!

I blogged about how I launched bucket filling HERE and I wanted to tell you about a super-fun find that is working perfectly in my classroom this year- a hanging jewelry organizer!
My mom found this one for me at TJ Maxx for under $20 and it was such a great deal!

This hanger has 30 small pockets and three large pockets on the bottom. I used address labels to label each pocket with a student's name and am using the bottom middle pocket to store the blank bucket filler cards.

These are business cards from Vistaprint and you can usually get them for super-cheap. I just altered the text on the card design found HERE or by searching "Owl Business Card".

These tiny pockets are perfectly sized to hold these cards and it makes it sosososo easy for me to see who needs a quick bucket-filling :)

The kids must be in love with this as much as I am because they are writing these cards all.of.the.time!! When we just had one class bucket, I noticed that mainly the girls were filling the cards out for other girls, but with this system, EVERYONE is getting on board!

My students will empty these pockets every Friday at the end of our class meeting and read through them before they take them home to share with their parents. That gives me a full week to make sure each child's pocket "bucket" is full with at least one card to read and take home :)

I found a few options on Amazon by searching for "Hanging Jewelry Organizer" just in case your local TJ Maxx doesn't have any in stock.

Some good news for those of you with multiple classes is that there are 33 pockets on the front and 33 on the back. We don't use the back in my class, but you could easily flip this around to use with two classes if you needed to!

The other piece of good news is that this whole hanger measures about 26"x16", so it takes up barely any room. This was ideal for me, since wall space is at a premium in my classroom and, although I wanted to make one desperately, I just couldn't find the space to hang individual buckets for each student. Problem solved and I am super happy :)

I hope this find helps you as much as it did for me!

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