Saturday, June 8, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching

Kathleen from Growing Kinders just posted a great blog post on her beginning findings/journey into Whole Brain Teaching {WBT}.  I decided since I've been using components of this method for the past two years, I would share a little of what I do.

Kathleen is a step ahead of me.  She's reading the book. I, however, did not.  I did read every single thing written on their website and watched several videos on YouTube that showcase Whole Brain Teaching in action.  I must say though, I've already purchased the book and will be reading about it a little bit more this summer to {as Kathleen said} "dig a little deeper."  

WBT is an excellent classroom management tool with learning approaches that tap into the way your brain learns best.  The different 'tools' used keep all students actively engaged in learning by keeping them 'on their toes' and anticipating what's next.  The idea of using WBT, for me, was to create a fun and positive learning environment that was stress-free and centered around my students.  That happens to be the concept behind WBT!

Here are some of the different techniques I use in my classroom.
On the WBT website you will find some of this information under the 1st steps tab.

Five Classroom Rules

If you are like the majority of classroom teacher's out there, you usually have your classroom rules posted on a wall somewhere in your classroom.  You either go over them the first week of school or create them with your kiddos the first week of school, but then rarely refer to them for the rest of the year.  WBT's concept is to recite these rules daily so that they are constantly running your student's brains, making them more effective.  
How it works in my classroom:
I start each and every morning {even if I have a sub} with our rules.  On Monday's I recite them.  Every other day I select a "friend" {I use this term to refer to my sweet little kinders} who has shown great behavior {follows the rules} to recite them.  Since everyone wants to be the rule person for the day, they all are eager to follow the rules!!  I use several other whole brain techniques to recite them.  This is how it sounds:
Student: "mirror"  {keep reading to learn more about that} student holds up hand.
Class: "mirror" - students raise hand {like giving an oath} 
Student: "Rule 1" - holds up one finger
Class: "Rule 1"
Student: "Listen when the teacher is talking" - makes a talking mouth with hand
Class: repeats and makes hand motion
Student: "Rule 2" - holds up two fingers
Class: "Rule 2" - holds up two fingers
Student: "Follow directions quickly" - makes an 'ocean wave' motion with their hand
Class: repeats
Student: "Rule 3" - holds up three fingers 
"Keep your hands and feet to yourself" -crosses arms one at a time
Student: "Rule 4" -holds up four fingers
"Raise your hand to speak or stand" - raises hand to shoulder level, makes talking hand, then points finger up {to represent the 'getting up and standing' - they do this motion as we say that particular part}
Student: "Rule 5" - holds up five fingers
"Be safe, be kind, be honest" {I have my kiddos say the first part, class repeats, then the second, class repeats, then the third, class repeats.  They also hold up one finger at a time to represent the three important rules within Rule 5}.
After they do that I chime in and say "And the most important rule of all?" Class recites "Keep your dear teacher happy" {we point to smiling face and tilt our heads side to side}.
To keep this part more interesting for them, we sometimes use silly voices when reciting our rules. :)

To read the rules provided by WBT click HERE.
To see it in action, as well as what "mirroring" is {not my class} click HERE.


"Mirror" is simply when students mimic gestures that you do to engage them during a lesson.  The concept behind "mirroring" is this: "As student's imitate your motions, their motor cortex, the brain's most reliable memory area, is automatically engaged." 
Here is an excellent video on mirroring in a first grade classroom.

Attention Getter: Class-Yes

This is my all time favorite WBT technique.  I use it ALL.THE.TIME.
Instead of saying "Class" though, I say "Friends."

This is super simple and greatly effective.  Often times getting the kiddos to quiet down and get settled can be a daunting task {it was definitely for me in my beginning years}.  This method is simple.  To grab your students attention you simple say "Friends" {or "class:} and they all reply "Yes."
Simple right.  But this is the part that's important.
Students have to repeat this simple word however I say it.
For instance I might say
"Ooooohhhhh Friends" in a deep voice and they must repeat it the same exact way when saying "Oooooohhhhh Yes."  I change up my voice each and every time.  What kid doesn't love using a silly voice?  It's so positive too.  Not once has a kiddo not repeated 'yes' back to me without a smile and/or giggle.

Here's the scientific reasoning as to why this simple technique is so effective:

"The neo-cortex, the part of your brain behind your forehead, controls, among other things, decision making.  Think of the neo-cortex as an executive, organizing other brain areas for complex tasks.  When the teacher says, "Class!" and students respond "Yes!," you have, in effect focused your students' neo-cortices on what you're going to say next.  In other words, their brain's executives are ready to take directions from your brain's executive."

Pretty cool, huh?


This technique is a class favorite. I mean, what kiddo doesn't love to be the "teacher."  This technique allows you to fully engage, simultaneously, in all four learning modes - seeing, saying, hearing, and doing.  How great, right?
I am not even going to waste time typing how it works.  Just watch this incredible video of a first grade class {I've posted this before}:

Are you hooked now?
I highly recommend going to YouTube and searching this method.  It is so fantastic in so many grade levels.  These videos are what had me convinced that I needed to begin teaching this way immediately!

These are just the components that I use frequently, if not daily, in my classroom.  There is so much more to WBT though.  I highly recommend joining in on this journey with Kathleen and purchasing the book for yourself. 
I can't wait to learn so more techniques to begin implementing this next school year.  What I've already been doing has definitely made my life so much more easier.  

"Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn" Ben Franklin {{love}}


  1. Did you know WBT is doing a book study? You can earn up to 700 WBT points and get certified to be a WBT.
    You can check it out at
    Hope you will join as I did!

    Shepherd's Shining Stars

  2. I've read a bit about WBT and I'm interested. Maybe I'll read the book this summer too. :)
    Brandee @ Creating Lifelong Learners

  3. I LOVE WBT!! I wish there was a conference near me. I know there is more I could be doing with it in my classroom. I'll have to check out the book for sure.
    Colleen :-)
    Fun and Fearless in First

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