Monday, April 8, 2013

Happy 2nd WBT Birthday

It's my second WBT birthday. It was during the Easter holidays in 2011 that I began to explore WBT. I watched videos, downloaded material and read what I could. Before you know it the holidays were over and it was time for this new baby to venure out into the world. It is great to look back at the beginning and celebrate my 2nd WBT birthday.
Babies start with few skills and build on these over time. I started with class- yes. This is the WBT attention getter. How you say class, the class copies it but says yes instead. If I whisper it, they whisper back etc. Then I introduced hands and eyes. This is another attention getter used for when you need to make special points. I say hands and eyes and the children drop everything, clap their hands and keep them together and look directly at me. This strategy works a treat. So with these few skills WBT had began and now I was building on my skills.
Just like a baby I was keen to explore more.  I introduced the WBT scoreboard. This was another super effective strategy. I drew a smile face and frown face on the board and gave tally marks for positive things and not so positive things. When the smile side wins we celebrated and when the frown side wins we groaned. The more success I had the more I wanted to try. We then added gestures to our class rules. Our rules are set by the school so I just added gestures to them. Then I started adding in more and more. I was exploring WBT and so were the children.
Just like any two year old I have had many trips and falls along the way but just like a two year old I get up and keep working on my skills. I look forward to the year ahead and learning and growing some more. Perhaps there will be less trips as the days pass and my skills improve. One thing I know is that WBT works and I will not go back to the way I was teaching before.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching Glasses

Have you discovered your whole brain teaching glasses? I realised I had my pair on when I recently attended a professional development day on spelling. The presenter was fantastic, and the information shared was both encouraging and challenging. At no stage did the presenter talk about whole brain teaching or any other form of whole brain approach. What did happen was that I was seeing things differently because of my new whole brain teaching glasses. I don't recall exactly when I got them, but I think it has been a gradual process over time and now they are firmly in place. 
I first realised my glasses were on when I started relating things that were happening to my knowledge of how the brain learns. The presenter was vibrant and enthusiastic about the topic. Ah! she got me, and my prefrontal cortex had decided to buy into what she was saying and my visual cortex was watching her move around the front of the room with ease and my Wernicke's area was involved in comprehending what was happening. My limbic system was engaged as I was enjoying the session. Before long we were sharing thoughts with a partner and now my Broca's area was involved as I talked my thoughts about spelling. Next thing I know we are doing an acitivity and moving around and now my motor cortex was involved.
Learning about the brain and how it works in relation to learning has helped put those glasses on. This new knowledge and my new whole brain teaching glasses helped me get the most out of the day. The thing that really helped put those glasses on was particpating in an Action Research Course on Whole Brain Teaching. As part of this course we had to read the text "How the Brain Learns," by David Sousa. This book helped me put theory behind what I am doing and helped it all become more meaningful. My new glasses helped me look forward and think of new ways to work on spelling that will be more challenging and engaging for the students I teach.