Thursday, April 3, 2014

TBT with Primary Possibilities & Whole Brain Teaching

This is my first time linking up with TBT with Primary Possibilities
-click the image above and you can too!
I am reposting a post from July 27, 2012 on Whole Brain Teaching.  When I was in the classroom, I used WBT and absolutely loved it!  If you are not familiar with WBT, I encourage you to read more about it.  You can find all my WBT posts {HERE}.

Original post- The Whole Brain Teaching Big 7
I attended a Whole Brain Teaching Conference last week in Union, Missouri.  I live nowhere near Union, Missouri, but after seeing some of the videos on YouTube, reading blog posts, and perusing the WBT website, I knew I had to go.  I was one of over 600 educators who attended the two day conference.  The first day was focused on classroom management.  I feel like I have a good handle on classroom management.  I pull cards in my room, use positive reinforcement constantly, and address problems as they arise and before they get out of hand.  After the first day of the training, I knew I was going to completely revamp the way I manage my classroom.  Whole Brain Teaching {from here on out referred to as WBT} is a way to actually teach while you are managing. 

Let me TRY to explain what that means.  WBT has what they call the Big 7.  Seven key elements to effective teaching that uses every part of the brain.  If you are unfamiliar with the Big 7, they are Class-Yes, Five Classroom Rules, Teach-ok, The Scoreboard, Hands and Eyes, Switch, & Mirror.  My goal with this post is to show you how the brain is engaged in each of the 7.  I promise I will not bore you to death with scientific words.  I am going to attempt lay it out there so that it makes sense to me, and if it makes sense to me, then it will make sense to you!  I mean, I am an educated girl, but I need some things explained in plain old English sometimes!

First up- The Five Class Rules:
I wrote a post where I explained the five class rules in great detail.  To read that post click {HERE}.  The five rules are meant to be rehearsed in class over and over again and have gestures to go with them.  When they are, 7 areas of the brain is engaged.  These areas are the prefrontal cortex (reasoning), Broca’s area (speaking), Wernicke’s area (listening), limbic system (emotions), hippocampus (moves information from short to long term), visual cortex (processes visual information), and motor cortex (duh, movement).  WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING.  Using the WHOLE BRAIN! Brilliant.

Second- Class-Yes:
Class-Yes is the attention getter.  The teacher says Class and the students respond with Yes, matching the teacher’s tone of voice.  It gets the brain ready to receive info.  This gets the prefrontal cortex (reasoning part) going.  It can be used for crowd control, start a lesson, to interrupt an activity, etc.

Third- Hands and Eyes:
This is the focuser.  It causes the students to focus ALL mental activity on what the teacher is saying.  Here’s how to do it- teacher: “class,” students: “yes”, teacher: “hands & eyes”, students: “hands & eyes.” On hands and eyes, students are to snap to attention, sit up, and fold their little hands together.  You’ve got them! The next step is to teach your big point.  But the trick is, and what I will have to retrain my brain to do, SPEAK BRIEFLY!  The Whole Brain Powers That Be say 15-45 seconds!  I feel sure none of us teach our big points that fast.  But relax; you’re chunking your information into small parts so the students can teach their neighbor.  Leading us into…..

After you give this little blurb of info, clap twice and say “teach!”  Students mimic your movement and say “OK” just like you did.  They then turn to their partner, neighbor, however you set it up (because the students already know who they are supposed to be with because you have rehearsed and practiced until it is like clockwork!).  While students are teaching one another (repeating the info you shared in that 15-45 second blurb) you walk around and listen (assessment!).  If your low to mid students are repeating the information correctly, go on.  If not, review it right then and there. Just use the same pattern as before.  This is basically the “format” of your lesson.

Switch allows each student in the pair to have an opportunity to speak and listen (Broca’s and Wernicke’s area).  While students are teaching their partner, you yell out, “SWITCH” (side note- WBT is not quiet) Students say, “Uh Oh, Switch” while pulling an imaginary cord from ceiling.  We should use switch to give the chatterboxes a chance to practice listening, shy ones the chance to be heard, and English language learners have an opportunity to listen and speak.  While the students are teaching one another they are using the gestures and words the teacher used. 

Mirror is used when you want the student to mimic exactly what you say or do in that 15-45 second blurb.  It looks like this- Class! Yes! Mirror! Mirror! Speak briefly using gestures while students copy you.  Clap twice, Teach! Ok! And you walk around assessing comprehension.  Mirror is great to use when you are describing a process or giving several steps, telling a story, for crowd control, or to wake them up right after lunch!  Mirror activates the visual and motor cortex of the brain.

Last, the scoreboard:
The scoreboard is how we involve the limbic system (emotions) into learning.  A simple t is drawn on the board.  A smiley on one side and frownie face on the other.  Here you will award the class for jobs well done and subtract for off task, to slow of a response, etc.  It is recommended that you keep the game within 3 at all times.  Too many smileys will cause the class to get lax, too many frownies can discourage.  Keep the score close to keep them on their toes.  When a tally mark for a smiley is given students clap their hands once and shout “Oh yeah!”  When frownie points are given, students lift their shoulders up and drop quickly and give a might groan.  Students are playing toward something.  Start small.  One extra minute of recess if smiley side wins, one less if frownies win.  They told us last week to put them in the whole early, but give them marks back quickly.  For the first few weeks, play for 1 extra/less minute of something.  Throughout year, go up, but pace it.  May is a long way from August!  It sounds like this clapping and cheering is going to be a mad house.  It won’t if you practice.  The goal is for the class to do it in unison and the mighty oh yeah and might groan only take about 2 seconds.
I can’t say it enough, the key is to PRACTICE.  Practice starting the first day of school.  Go over the rules.  Explain the scoreboard.  Show how to mirror.  Tell the students who their partner will be during Teach-ok.  It will not work like it should if you do not put in the practice time.  Another point that was stressed at the conference- make this work for you.  There is no WBT police that will come and make sure you are doing it “right”.  “Right” looks different everywhere. The Whole Brain Teaching Website has tons of information.  Click {HERE} to get there.
I hope this was informative.  I know it was long!  Bless you if you are even still reading this! I created posters with the 5 rules, and signs with the other Big 6, intended to be displayed while teaching the students how to do each one.  This is the same download as in my previous post, but I wanted to link it again in case you missed it the first time. 
To sum it up in my own words, WBT is teaching concepts with gestures, talking about it, seeing it, listening to it, and involving emotions.  
I'd LOVE to hear your comments, thought, and/or concerns on WBT.  Do you use it? What does it look like in your classroom? Do you want to use it now after hearing all about it?


  1. Thank you for linking up. I use Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom too!! Great post!! Stephanie

  2. I love WBT! I use many WBT techniques in my classroom! :) My admin's love it too! :) Great TBT post, Dana!


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