Several years ago when I was a fledgling student teacher, I found a Youtube video called Whole Brain Teaching: Kindergarten. I remember watching with my jaw dropped as a classroom full of wiggly little 5-year-olds engaged with the teacher, with each other, and followed directions perfectly. “What magic is this?!” I wondered.
After some searching online, I discovered that Whole Brain Teaching is a teaching approach based on brain research used in thousands of classrooms today. By engaging different parts of children’s brains, children stay engaged and attentive during lessons. What’s even better is that they’re having fun!
Now that I have a couple years of teaching under my belt, I feel ready to move beyond what I was taught in college and during student teaching. I’m ready to start adopting my own teaching methods and applying them in the classroom. Whole Brain Teaching is something I’ve wanted to try for years, so I thought, “When better to try than this next year in Alaska?”
I ordered Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle from Amazon. I’m now in the middle of the book and am loving the strategies presented. While I read, I supplement by watching Whole Brain Teaching videos from Chris Biffle’s Youtube Channel to see the strategies in action.
One of my favorite Whole Brain methods is the “Teach-Okay” technique. This technique completely engages students in a lesson while allowing them the opportunity to engage with and repeat the information back to their friends.
Here’s a sample script from Chris Biffle’s book demonstrating “Teach-Okay”:
Teacher: Today, we’re going to talk about five important numbers. Teach!
Class: Okay! (Students teach their neighbor what the teacher has just said.)
Teacher: Classity, class!
Students: Yessity, yes!
Teacher: The five numbers I’m going to talk about are the five numbers we use when we begin counting. (Holding up her hand, counting on her fingertips.) One, two, three, four, five! Use your fingers just like I did. Teach!
Class: Okay! (Students, many of them using their fingers, teach their neighbor what the teacher has just said.)
Here, using the “Teach-Okay” technique, the students repeat what the teacher said to a partner. It’s as simple as that! It breaks up teacher talking time and allows for students to process every bit of a lesson. You probably also noticed the “Class-Yes” technique that the teacher used in the script to get students’ attentions. The former student in me is kind of jealous of kids who get to learn in Whole Brain classroom settings!
This year, I’ll experiment by using and adapting some Whole Brain Teaching strategies in my K-2 classroom to fit my teaching style. I might only use a few, I might end up going full-on Whole Brain, or I might end up abandoning it all together. That’s the beauty (and the curse) of teaching! You never know how a class is going to respond to something until you try.
Make sure and check out the Whole Brain Teaching website for much more in-depth explanations, information, videos, and more!