Sunday, March 3, 2013

Teach – OK

Using the Teach/OK strategy was one of the first transitions that I made towards being a WBT teacher.  I watched several videos about the strategy to see it in action.  I read the page on the fabulous WBT website about Teach/OK to make sure that I was employing the strategy correctly.  Then, I tried it out and was impressed right away.

            I was impressed with Teach/OK for several reasons.  One of the biggest reasons is because (clapJ) it took my Differentiated Instruction strategy of having a clear learning goal to the next level.  Now, not only does every lesson have a clear learning goal, but the children are teaching that goal to each other!  Another reason that I was so impressed is because (clapJ)the strategy is so effective at ensuring that my Kindergarteners retain the information taught!  Not just a few students, either.  Every student, even my strugglers.  Why are they able to retain the information?  because (clapJ)they are using their Whole Brain when they learn it.  I have found that it is imperative to ensure that they not only mirror hands and words and use gestures, but that they also teach each other as many times as possible back and forth.  The repetition is key for retention! Teach/Okay is also impressive because it can be tweaked so that students know what comprehension skill they are practicing.  Here are some ways  tweak it during reading comprehension: Predict/Okay, Infer/Okay, Connect/Okay, Prove It/Okay!

Of course, I use Teach/OK in all content areas, so I wanted to make sure that it was actually working for my kiddos.  I assessed this in two ways.  The first was by observing them during successive lessons to see if they were able to build upon previously taught objectives.  They were!  I also assessed them by observing them during academic conversations and calling them over to “quiz” them.  I have yet to be disappointed! 

A few tips for teachers who are just starting out:

- watch a few different videos first to see it in action!

- start off simple and grow from there.  It takes a little practice to become comfortable, but soon it will be second nature!

- collaborate with a friend or two or three J to come up with new gestures that will work for you!

- have fun with it, of course!  Remember one of the key reasons that Teach/OK works is because (clapJ) it attaches a pleasant emotion with learning…so always remember to SMILE!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

I love Whole Brain Teaching BECAUSE

On Friday I watched a You Tube video of Chris Biffle's podcast on teaching BECAUSE. This is the first full podcast that I have watched, and once again, I AM HOOKED! I had the pleasure of watching this one with my close friend and business partner, Megan, who also happens to teach right next door to me. We collaborate with each other all the time, and sometimes feel like our brains are somehow linked because we think so much alike. I was watching the video on a lull during conference night, she came over to see what I was up to, and BAM! We were intrigued and excited. The next morning we watched the full podcast together, took notes, made plans, crafted a sign, and bought supplies (some cute "because clapper gloves" from the dollar store).

Today, I introduced BECAUSE. And guess what? It was fun! And the students all met the learning goal of understanding that everything after the word BECAUSE is the reason (evidence). They were using beginning reasoning skills and having FUN doing it. I didn't use the PDF video because my computer is hooked up correctly for that and I'm not sure if it would be as effective for my students. So Megan and I both planned to take the basics of the PDF and teach it ourselves. Today was just the introduction and was all oral language. We used our Because Clapper Gloves all day long. "We are going to lunch now BECAUSE we are all hungry. We are going to pack up now BECAUSE it is time to go home". I was so excited to see that three students used the word BECAUSE correctly in their independent writing during Work Station time! I will post a picture of the gloves and sign that we made tomorrow, because they enhanced the lesson greatly.

Megan and I found pictures and wrote EZ Reader stories to go with the next two lessons of BECAUSE. We will model and practice how to use the word BECAUSE to find text based evidence. We bought some Because Clapper Gloves to put in a workstation and made some printables to use as a station. After these two lessons I will decide how and when to teach the Double Because and Clinkers. I will post more soon about how the next two lessons go. I plan on watching the WBT podcast about Evidence very soon too. I love Whole Brain Teaching BECAUSE it is so effective and brings such positive energy to my classroon. As Chris Biffle ended the podcast, so will I end this post..."Power to the Teachers!!"

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Teach to Every Whole Brain!

     Holy Whole Brain Teaching Batman!!  Last year I began to learn about Whole Brain Teaching.  My first look at Whole Brain Teaching came through Pinterest.  I happened to click on a video of Miss Freundlich and I was hooked!  I had been teaching Kindergarten for 12 years, had my Masters and National Board Certification, and yet still had never been as excited to implement something in my classroom.  I watched her videos over and over.  I told my whole Kindergarten team about them.  I searched the internet for more videos  and began watching them.  I even watched them on my iphone on the way to school.  I was so very excited, and I still am!
     Why was I so excited after watching these videos of Whole Brain Teaching in action?  One of the biggest reasons was because the children were so engaged in the lesson.  Not just the first few minutes of the lesson, either.  It was through the entire lesson.  The students all seemed intrisically motivated to learn and pay attention.  They were actively learning.  They were all happy, and so was the teacher!  Another biggie was that the learning goals were clear in each lesson.  The children were able to state what they were learning about and were building upon knowledge that they had already gained.  These features should always be impressive for any teacher, and they surely impressed me.  I was even more impressed, however, because these fabulous features also align so closely with the "Exemplary" ranking of the new evaluation rubric that my county is using to rate teachers.  So...wait just a minute!  Was I seeing this correctly?  Whole Brain Teaching is a method of teaching that seems like the best thing for little learners AND it will help me earn better scores on my evaluation?  Count me in!
     My next step was to go to and create an account to become an official member of the Whole Brain Teaching world!  I read through all of the "First Steps" so that I could combine the explanations with my knowledge I had gained from watching the videos.  This all happened in a matter of days.   After visiting the Whole Brain Teaching website and reading/watching more about it, I was even more impressed and excited.  It seemed that WBT was going to fill a void in my classroom that I didn't even realize was there.  I began to implement the "First Steps" right away!