Wednesday, September 4, 2013

#WholeBrainTeaching First Week

Our first full week of school has come and gone! I can't believe it has gone so fast! I already missed 1.5 days due to sick babies, so I'm hoping everybody gets healthy soon! Even with that, it has truly been a great start to the year. With WBT things just go so smoothly. I see so many smiling faces everyday, and hear so many kids talking about me as their "favorite teacher". Such a great feeling!

Here's a brief overview of what we have done so far. Please leave me a comment if you have any questions!

CLASS-YES: Introduced on day one. The early focus was on how the class yes needed to be completed.  Students need to stop what they are doing, look at me, and fold their hands (or just lay them on the desk). Variations on the class yes include silly changes in pitch, tempo, and repetition.

5 RULES: Rule 1 introduced on day one with gesture. We practice following directions quickly while pretending to take imaginary supplies out of their desks. This is also how I teach students what they need to bring to each class. Rules 2 and 3 are introduced on day two with gesture. We talk about when these rules apply - which is anytime I am giving the class direct instruction.When I ask students to talk with their neighbor, rule 2 obviously doesn't apply. During a lab activity, neither rule 2 or 3 apply. Rule 4 and 5 are introduced on day 3 with gesture. We talk about smart choices and not smart choices. I explain that I am happy only when students are learning, so anytime there's behavior that's stopping other people from learning then I am not happy.

Teach Okay: On day one I ask kids to tall their neighbor several things. I tell them specifically what to say. Things like, "Tell your neighbor, you better be fast!" and "Tell your neighbor, take out your green folder!" This gets kids used to talking to their neighbor, who may be somebody they don't know well. Kids also love being bossy, so this always makes them giggle. On day 2, I ask kids to talk with their neighbor about specific things. I say things like, "Talk with your neighbor until I call you back about why Rule 2 is so important!" This continues to help students feel comfortable talking with their neighbor in preparation for the teach okay. On day 3 I introduce the teach okay. We practice the cue, where I clap twice and say teach then they clap twice and say ok. We practice that a few times until they have it nice and crisp. Then I have them add a full turn after they say ok, and we practice that a few times. Next I add that their hands go up when they do their full turn, and we practice that a few times. Finally, I have them do a teach okay about their favorite food. It's important to have them get comfortable sing big gestures, so I want to be able to guess their food by watching their gestures! As the days continue, we use the scoreboard as a reminder for all of the important points included in the teach okay. I also explain that the reason for the teach okay is to engage all parts of their brain, which helps to build long lasting memories.

Scoreboard: Introduced on day three. After we practice the teach okay with favorite food, I explain that the scoreboard will be used to make sure everyone is engaged. We talk about the prize for winning is bragging rights, just like it is when they win a basketball game. I also tell them that later in the year we will play for +/- homework and +/- free time. Telling them this right from the start really helps to get buy in early.  This is a key element in using all of the above techniques! Use this to teach the kids exactly how you want them to behave. If they aren't fast enough, aren't lour enough, are too loud, etc., they are retaught using the scoreboard. Give them a negative point and have them retry. Then another negative point and retry again. Then a positive point when they improve.

More on mirrors, the SIT, switch, and hands and eyes later!



  1. I would LOVE to hear more about WBT in middle school. I am a first year teacher of a 6th grade classroom and I feel like now that we're 6 weeks in, it's almost too late to start WBT now. Do you have any suggestions for a first year teacher?

    1. It is never too late in the year to start WBT! Tell your students that you've been WAITING for them to be ready to use some techniques that will amp up the fun in the classroom, and they are finally ready! I'd love to hear how it's going in your classsroom!