Just What the Doctor Ordered

The book talk assignment for Chapter 5 of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids by Chris Biffle was to reflect on our lesson presentations and note which parts of the brain our lessons actively engage. Sometimes it is hard to admit that we are wrong or to even imagine that we are not doing what is best for our students, but mistakes are only mistakes when we do not learn from them. After taking a closer look at the parts of the brain and the role or function of each, it is clear to me why some of my lessons seemed more effective than others. My goal is to make all lessons actively involve the whole brain throughout the entire lesson. To find out more about the parts of the brain, pick up a copy of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids at http://www.amazon.com/Whole-Brain-Teaching-Challenging-Kids/dp/0984816712/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372384293&sr=1-1&keywords=whole+brain+teaching .

Why do people get x-rays? People generally get x-rays when something does not feel right. But again, why an x-ray? The answer is quite simple, to see what is not visible to the naked eye. Well, if we could take x-rays of our students’ brains while we are teaching, what would we see? Would we see a lot of activity or would we see parts of the brain sitting there dormant?

As teachers we spend hours planning and preparing lessons that we think our students will just absorb. You know the ones with picture-filled power points and interactive study guides. The ones where every minute of the lesson is packed full of all the skills, facts, and terms necessary to “pass the test.” That x-ray may show all parts of the brain are actively involved at some point of the lesson, but as teachers our goal should be to have the whole brain active throughout the entire lesson.

I had the unique opportunity to introduce whole brain teaching to my students the last quarter of the year. So I had first-hand knowledge of how whole brain lessons compared to my traditional lessons. Before WBT, I used power points and study guides to introduce lessons which activated the visual cortex and Wernicke’s area. Then, as the unit went on, I added some picture or word sorts or some other type of hands-on activities that engaged the motor and visual cortex. After that, I assigned a writing assignment which had the students tell why the skills or concepts taught were important to everyday life. This got several areas of the brain engaged especially the prefrontal cortex and the motor cortex. I concluded with the students orally presenting their written assignments which stimulated Broca’s area and the limbic system since I had a very animated class that loved to perform. I feel that throughout the unit, the whole brain was involved. However, after creating lessons that were centered on the WBT 5-Step Lesson Plan, I realized the injustice I was doing to not only my students, but also to me. All of a sudden, I became a teacher and not just a presenter. I knew I was more effective in the classroom when my students began asking me to do “that stuff” again. When I asked what they meant and they responded, “Teach us in that fun way; the way that we get to teach each other,” I knew I had made a change for the better. When it came time to “pass the test,” I again knew that I had made a good change.

After a careful review of the before x-ray, the one before whole brain lessons, and the after x-ray, the one with a dose of whole brain teaching, it is obvious that WBT is just what the doctor order. As the prescription states, “Continue using daily until funtricity takes over the class and continue using as long as you want to be in teacher heaven.”

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