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So Easy a Kid Can Do It! September 22, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — wholebrainteacher @ 7:23 pm

Today I was held up on the other side of the building at the start of my advanced class.  I told the teacher I was talking to that I had better go because my rowdy group of smarties were probably running amok by then (this week I have already had 3 “less HW” points show up mysteriously on the scoreboard while I was standing in the hallway during class-change).

I walk in to find Johnny Smith (we’ll call him) has taken charge of the class and is going over the answers to the warm up problems in a semi-serious way.  He’s calling on students to come up and write their answers on the board.  The class looks at me when I walk in, but I tell them to carry on as if I’m not there.  I went ahead and sat down in the back.

Then comes the Power Teaching.  Chatter and laughter fill the room as I sit down.  Johnny responds to this with a deep, stearn, “Claaasss.”  And gets a perfect, “Yeeeesss” back.   Johnny continues, “I know you don’t want more homework tonight.”  (I laughed to myself that, being a student himself, he only threatened more HW, but didn’t actually put a point on the More HW side of the scoreboard.)

He went on through the rest of the warm ups and really got me laughing when he called for a 10-finger woo to a student who found and fixed a mistake on the board — still using his version of a “teacher tone.”

It was just too funny.  The power of routines in your classroom can not be underestimated.  It also goes to show that if someone else, even a 13 year old boy, knows a few whole brain teaching “tricks,”  they can man the class just the way you would.  Johnny was also not the one I would have expected to take over.  I have other students who I thought would have jumped at the chance to take center stage.  Johnny had great charisma with the class and (to a scary degree) imitated all my tones and mannerisms very accurately.

It was a great start to my morning.


Getting Ready August 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — wholebrainteacher @ 11:42 pm

Somewhere around April of last school year, I stumbled upon WBT videos.  I had punched in “brain based learning” into the Google search bar, because I have a lot of interest in how the brain works during learning.  I clicked on a whole brain teaching link and was soon watching video after video.  The first was of a 6th grade math teacher introducing the rules of order of operations.  Coincidentally, I was also teaching 6th grade math.  I was a little taken a back by the choral responses at first… didn’t know if I liked that.  But I immediately loved how this math classroom was buzzing with discussion over each step of PEMDAS.  She taught one step at a time, using creative gestures, and then shouted the magic word: “TEACH!”  And in amazing unison, students responded, “OKAY!”  Then the craziest thing happened.  They enthusiastically began throwing their arms into the gestures and teaching one another.  It was loud!  But it was productive!

At the time, I had recently noticed so many of my students — the usually enthusiastic ones even — had gone into this sort of March funk.  They had slowly begun to drop off the effort wagon.  Watching (and drooling over) the symphony of student involvement in the video, I knew this WBT stuff was golden.  These kids were having a blast in math class — gasp!

So over the last 6 or 7 weeks of summer, I have prepared to try WBT in my classroom this year.  I’ll be moving up to 7th grade math, so I’ll see many familiar faces from last year.  It’ll be fun to see their faces when they realize class will not be anything like it was last year!  Also, I love to have fun in the classroom.  I like how WBT gives me some specific places to channel my humor while still running a “tight ship.”