Whole Brain Teaching Workshop: Day 1 - Part 1

Monday, July 14, 2014


I am so excited after leaving my first day of the Whole Brain Teaching Workshop. Chris Biffle (in the flesh) was the presenter, and he was AWESOME! It's so amazing that all of the resources are FREE including tons of internet resources. 

Throughout this post I'm going to try to sum up what we learned today and share some strategies you can implement in your classroom. This is going to be a long one, so strap in!

"Teach!" "Okay!"

How Do We Seize Students' Attention?
If you know anything about WBT you have probably have heard of "Class-Yes". This can be used whenever, wherever, to get your students attention. The most important thing we added to this today is to train your students to have their hands in their laps, clasped, when they say "yes". This get's their body ready to listen to what you have to say. 


In addition to "Class-Yes" we learned "Class-Boom" and Core Knowledge-Yes. These two new attention grabbers can be kept in the back pocket, for special occasions, when you really need to switch things up and grab their attention! 

"Class-Boom" goes like this...you say "Class-Boom" and clap hands together on 'boom'. Then, the kiddos respond with "Yes-Boom" and they too, clap hands together & place in lap on 'boom'. This is a good way to get your students really used to clasping their hands together to get their bodies ready to listen.

Finally, Core Knowledge-Yes is a simple yet genius idea! You yell out a question, a fact, a something that your student's should know. "What is 5x5?" Your student's will respond, "5x5 is 25!". Chris Biffle (Coach B) said the reason our kids struggle is because they don't get enough reps, not enough practice. Why not use every precious moment we have to practice our learning?

How Do We Emphasize a Big Point?
While we're on the topic of attention grabbers, let's talk about how we get students' attention when we need to emphasize a BIG point.

Instead of the normal "class-yes" we will say "Hands and Eyes" students will mirror this making sure to focus their hands and eyes on us...wherever we are. This is what Coach B says is our front pocket move, it can be used all the time.

When you need to pull something out of your back pocket, you REALLY need their attention you say, "Hands, hands, hands and eyes!" Students will mirror this again and get their bodies ready to listen. 

How Do We Achieve 100% Student Engagement?
"The more we talk, the more students we lose." -Coach B. That was what really stuck with me today. As teachers, we love to talk, duh that's why we're teachers! But we need to stop. Coach B told us today that we should try to chunk whatever we're saying in 2 sentence increments, no more! You'll lose 'em!

We need to engage students' whole body when we teach so this is where Mirror Words, Silent Mirror, and Magic Mirror come into play! Mirror Words is your front pocket move. You'll want to use this one the most. But, as always, you need to switch it up...keep them guessing! Silent Mirror and Magic Mirror are your back pocket moves.

Silent Mirror is just like it sounds, silent. Your students will mirror your motions as you talk, but they should not repeat your words.

Magic Mirrors...Oooohh! is a fun one! You, the teacher, speak with your hands behind your back. As you speak, your students will repeat you AND create their very own hand motions to go with what you're saying.

Your mind is going to be blown, watch these 3rd graders. Watch as they use Mirror Words when speaking to the class. Can you find a single disengaged kid? I can't. Mirrors are not just for teachers teaching, your students should use them when they are speaking too!


What Are 5 Powerful Classroom Rules?
This is the last essential thing you need to start your year with WBT. Master these and sprinkle the rest in later.

Here we go:

Rule 1: Follow Directions Quickly
Rule 2: Raise Your Hand for Permission to Speak
Rule 3: Raise Your Hand for Permission to Leave Your Seat
Rule 4: Make Smart Choices
Rule 5: Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy!

You better believe there are gestures to go with your classroom rules. Learn them by watching below.

I got the cutest set of classroom rule posters here!

Okay, back to business. Coach B says that when you're teaching the rules you should practice 5 times a day! Anddd that you need to practice the wrong way followed by the right way. This is important for students to see. 

Here's my absolute favorite part of the whole rule procedure! Let's say you, the Almighty Teacher, are talking and one of your friendly students forgets to raise his hand and blurts the answer right out! (like that ever happens?) You simply say rule 2 and gesture a 2 in the air. Your entire class will repeat rule 2, showing and reminding that student of the correct procedure. I love this because everything is a learning experience. Your students are helping each other to learn and reinforce the classroom rules. You can gesture any of your rules and teach your entire class to recite them when necessary.

My favorite was when Coach B said if you have a student who loves to talk back, rather than responding to him or her, just hold up your 5 fingers and say "Class, What's Rule 5?" Your students will rattle off "Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy". Coach B says that your disrespectful students won't like to be working against his "homies" and his "homies" have your back as the teacher. With luck, that disrespectful student will join his "homies" and support you too!



Whew! That was a lot to cover, but we learned more. Come back to the blog tomorrow to learn more about the Scoreboard, the 5 Step Lesson Plan and what to do when you have a Sub!

All of this information can be found on the Whole Brain Teaching Website.

What's your favorite part of Whole Brain Teaching? Let's hear your success stories!

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