I may be Learnball's biggest fan. I know that I'll never teach without it! Why would anyone? Learnball allows me to do what a teacher is supposed to donot entertain, not baby-sit, not policejust help students learn! I cannot imagine teaching without Learnball! It would be like climbing up the ski hill instead of riding the chair lift! (You'd wear yourself out getting up the hill and be too tired to ski.)
I teach 7th and 8th grade math in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. I began my 6th year as a teacher, not knowing that my life would never be the same! That was the year I attended a Learnball presentation at the National Middle Schools Conference in Portland, Oregon. After the session, I literally ran to the Learnball booth, joined Learnball League, and obtained The Learnball Classroom Guide. Another teacher from my school also joined the League, and we couldn't wait to get back to school and help students organize Learnball teams. Having a partner really helped. We met daily for the first two weeks to discuss the fine points of the Learnball process.We quickly realized that ALL answers are in the guide.
The Learnball Classroom Guide makes teaching fun because kids follow the guide steps and run a Learnball contest in a mature, orderly fashion. Teams strive to post the best record of attendance, behavior and academic achievement. My classroom atmosphere was positive before Learnball, but the improvement since Learnball is awesome. Attendance, promptness, completion of assignments, and performance have all dramatically increased!
Jane Roletto, Cour d'Alene, Idaho
After observing one of my fellow fourth-grade teachers use Learnball with great success, I decided I wanted to take that leap and try it myself! I will never go back to my old classroom discipline plan again. I have used Learnball in my classroom for the past five years now, and every year, my students and I love it. Trying new things sometimes involves a risk, but it sure was worth it. One year, I had 23 boys and 9 girls in my class, and Learnball saved my life that year. This is my 8th year of teaching, and I have found that Learnball works for all students. Learnball helps kids learn the important life skills of teamwork and positive attitudes. Kids can't wait to come to my classroom every day. Thank you, Learnball League, for providing such a wonderful program, because new generations of boys and girls leave my classroom every year with increased self-esteem and positive attitude.
Anne Buccola, Huntington Beach, California
Working Together Respectfully
I started using Learnball 9 1/2 years ago and can't imagine establishing a community of learners without it. The children really feel the room belongs to all of us when we establish the rules and point system. The contest managers soon take over routine duties while the presidents and vice presidents organize their teams. As a fourth grade teacher, one of the greatest benefits for me personally is that most of the time everyone does their homework. We use the ingenuity conference to solve any problems. This really makes us work together and respect each other.
Pat Thomas, 4th grade, Modus, Connecticut
Most Useful Management Program
I had been a classroom teacher for twenty-two years before using Learnball. I started using it two years ago and I would never teach again without it. Through the years I have used several different classroom management techniques and felt that all of them were successful to some degree. But after implementing Learnball I can see that it is by far the most useful classroom management program that I have ever tried.
Sue Lenarz, 8th Grade, Alta Loma, California
Bridge the Language Barrier
I graduated from college in December. In January, I started substituting, and in February I was offered a job teaching fourth grade. Learnball proved to be a great way to motivate my students and manage classroom behavior. Three fourths of my 33 students either spoke limited English or no English at all. Learnball bridged the language barrier and helped these students get involved in our class.
John Lenarz, 4th Grade, Alta Loma, California
Solution for At-Risk Students
Learnball makes me part of the solution, not the problem, for many of my inner-city, at-risk students. It frees me from being classroom cop, which in turn, enhances my role as teacher, counselor, and facilitator. After 14 years of teaching small Chapter I Math classes (maximum of 10 students in each), budget cuts forced me to instruct in another area of my certification. Suddenly, I had five big (35-40) eighth and ninth grade social studies classes plus a large homeroom. I was able to cover the material and maintain order, but invariably when I asked a question, there was a sea of blank faces and barely a hand raised to answer. Lacking the skills and confidence to engage in exciting learning discussions, students often compensated by staging lively disruptions. On my part, I strongly criticized many who behaved even though I knew I was further lowering the self-esteem of many disadvantaged children in my charge. Thanks to Learnball, the blank stares are replaced by a sea of waving hands and imploring eyes whenever I pose a question. One enjoyable learning discussion follows another and all my comments are positive.
Loretta Griffin, 9th Grade, Memphis, Tennessee
Just wanted to share our first Learnball Tournament results with you. Three fifth and sixth grade classes participated in the cafeteria Friday morning. The students had written the questions the week before. We stuck to math, spelling, science and social studies. What a BLAST we had. At this time of year sixth graders are so turned off. Not Friday! A pizza party was on the line. You could feel the controlled excitement. We had questions in English and Spanish, lots of team spirit, and those who usually might act out or have an "attitude," didn't have a chance. We kept it up for an hour and a half until recess. Some protested having to go to recess! The shootout at the end produced a very happy team. (The score had been very close throughout.) The other teachers were very impressed. We all want to repeat. It was a great review of the term and the year. Why did we wait so long to do this?
Linda Hare, 6th Grade, Imperial Beach, California
Learnball Works with ALL Abilities
Before becoming a principal, I taught 24 years. Until I discovered Learnball, teaching was a trade-off. If I appealed to the low-achievers, the scholarly students suffered and vice versa. But with Learnball's unique bid system, all students happily work and learn together! The bid system makes Learnball popular with mainstreamed and underachieving students who normally detest any academic competition. They are the team heroes on any given day, and that's why they love it.
Nancy Bukley, Norwich, Connecticut
Firm but Positive Discipline
I teach in a small town, and I have never experienced the severe discipline or dropout problems that I read about in the newspapers or see on television. But, like nearly all the teachers I know, the sabotage in my classroom caused me plenty of headaches. So when I read a wonderful description of Learnball in the Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, I was intrigued. The story told how Learnball motivates and disciplines students K-12 in any subject, and was guaranteed. I said to myself, "I have nothing to lose and everything to gain." I sent for my Learnball guide. it took me less than an hour to read, and the process was also quick and easy to implement. Once the teams were established and the process began, students showed an incredible inclination to follow the rules and assume responsibility.With Learnball, I have the firm discipline that I want, yet I am always positive towards students. The Learnball process is largely something that students do to organize and manage themselves. It frees me so that I have the time and the energy I need to teach.
Judy Koontz Garris, 6th Grade, Saltsburg, Pennsylvania
"Learnball: Merlin Stone That Transforms Negative Enegry into Gold" by Judith Koontz, originally appeared in The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, and is reprinted by permission of The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International.
It Saved Me
I have been teaching for 25 years and have never had a class this difficult to manage (all 36 of them). I learned about your program and started it immediately. IT HAS SAVED ME.
Debra Connolly, Medford, Oregon