Wednesday, March 27, 2013


 One of WBT's most POWERFUL classroom strategies...the can you use it with in your classroom?

I've been working on lesson plans for the rest of the year, and one main focus in my planning is the implementation of the Teach-OK. I look at this as the magic component of WBT. It's this piece that does so many things to take a lesson to the next level. I've made a list of my "Top Ten Teach-OK Things to Remember". OK, so I only have six so far. So really it's a Top 6 list. But Top 10 just sounds cooler.
Check out the great posters from Stephanie at
3rd Grade Thoughts!
1. Introduce "Mirror" first. Get your students used to mirroring your gestures. Show them exactly how to move their hands, and explain exactly why those movements work (they help to show the meaning of the words). If we want students to eventually be able to come up with their own gestures they need practice with somebody else's gestures first. Students need to get over their fear that "everybody is watching me." What can help them get over this, and start to feel comfortable gesturing with purpose, is to be given the tools to be successful right from the start. The stages of Teach-OK are: start with mirror, move to repeat Teach-OK (where students simply repeat everything that was said exactly as the teacher said it), then move to summarizing, then move to critical thinking.

2. Use "Switch" after each level above when students have reached their comfort level. For example, get students comfortable repeating exactly what you said with gestures, then use "switch"so they get used to doing it on their own. Then, once they are comfortable summarizing content using the Teach-OK, have them summarize using Switch. For me, the Teach-OK helps to teach students how to talk. Switch teaches students how to listen. The talking part needs to come first, because you can't learn to listen if now one knows what to say!  Switch takes the students out of their comfort zone, and makes them a little more exposed. This is wonderful practice for those students that have a big fear of public speaking. It's still public speaking, but only to one person in a room where lots o other people are talking at the same time.

3. Introduce specific,key, critical thinking gestures. The gesture for the because-clapper and the example popper are two great brain toys to use in the Teach-Ok. Make these gestures the Go-To gestures for critical thinking. If students can give a reason and an example of a fact then they really do understand it. Introducing these two simple gestures gives students a "bag of tricks" to pull from when they are expected to do some critical thinking about a topic.

4. Give enough time for students to say everything they can possibly think of, and then give them a little bit more time. Students should continue the Teach-Ok until the class is called back with the Class-Yes. Practice from the start to repeat over and over until called back with the Class-Yes.This habit really needs to be formed before the summarizing and critical thinking steps take place. If this is a habit, then students will continue trying to think of new ways to say the same fact, of new examples to give,or new reasons. This is exactly what you want! Get them to exhaust their brains, and then give them more time to think of even more.  The key is to find the perfect balance, because if you give them too much time you may have some discipline issues (which of course you would fix the scoreboard).

5. Praise, prompt and leave. As the Teach-Ok is happening, do not stand in the front of the room watching. Scan the room looking for gestures. Head right to that pair of students that aren't using gestures appropriately. Usually in my class there's always one student that looks like he's having a seizure or something - spastic gestures just for fun - he thinks I won't notice his gestures don't really mean anything :)Whoever you see first, use this time to quickly walk by and praise them for something they are doing well, prompt them to make certain improvements, and then leave them alone to adjust their own behavior.

6. Include some super silly Teach-Ok's! A great way for a lesson to start is to have the class Teach-Ok  all about how excited they are to learn about (fill in the blank with your topic). Yes,middle schoolers will giggle and roll their eyes at you. But they will all be rolling their eyes on task -and 100% on task behavior is what makes teacher heaven!

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