Monthly Archives: July 2013

KISS Your Old Behavior Plan Goodbye

“Please turn in your classroom discipline plans by Friday.”  How often as a teacher have we heard this and dreaded the chore of putting in writing what we actually do in our classrooms?  This generally brings anxiety because teachers tend to have a complicated system, with charts, clothespins, and marbles, that makes sense in their heads, but hard to put down on paper.  Well, think about it.  If it is hard for you to write each detail, then how do you expect your students to understand it?  The acronym KISS comes to mind.  The acronym WBT also comes to mind.  In this situation, WBT = KISS.

Whole Brain Teaching focuses on five rules: 1) Follow directions quickly, 2) Raise your hand for permission to speak, 3) Raise your hand for permission to leave you seat, 4) Make smart choice, and 5) Keep your dear teacher happy.  Each has its own power within the classroom, but each also has its challenges.  Rule 4 – Make smart choice – is a rule that carries a lot of power in the classroom.  If I can get my students to understand what is meant by the term “smart choice” then it will be easy for them to follow the other four rules.  Is it a smart choice not to follow directions?  Is it a smart choice to speak or leave your seat without permission?  Is it a smart choice to not keep your dear teacher happy?  Making smart choices for 4th graders is difficult, but giving them plenty of opportunity to practice at a young age will help them make choices as they enter their teenage years , and will follow them to their adulthood. Making smart choices is a life skill.

A smooth running classroom greatly depends on a well-managed classroom.  Using the five basic Whole Brain Teaching rules is a smart choice.  Now is the time to not only kiss those bad choices goodbye, but also kiss those old behavior plans farewell. 

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May I Have Your Attention Please…Oh Wait, There is Something Better

I wrote what I thought to be a wonderful book talk entry on the Class…Yes to realize that it was not to be in essay form.  So instead of wasting all that time, I will share it with you……

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1,2,3, eyes on me…If you hear my voice clap once….My hand goes up, your mouth goes closed…or any of the other techniques teachers use to gain their students’ attention.  Do they work? If so, superb, but I speculate they do not or there would not be so many variations to the way educators use to get the attention of their students?

The “Class…Yes” method has proven effective not only in my 4th grade classroom, but also in my colleague’s 1st grade class and in classes on every grade level across the world. How could one method be so successful with people of any age? The reason behind the effectiveness of the “Class…Yes” method is that all brains are essentially the same. They all have a prefrontal cortex that is the boss and it can control how the remaining parts respond to a stimulus. If you capture a person’s attention, the prefrontal cortex takes over and will demand that the rest of the brain reacts. When the ears hear “Class” and the mouth verbally responds with “Yes” and the hands fold and the eyes focus on the speaker, the listener’s brain is actively engaged and is ready to learn. Ever trained an animal to perform an action or command, well this is basically the same premise; but unlike animals, people need variety. By changing the “Class, Yes” attention grabber, the listeners stay on their toes and it sets up a sense of anticipation within the classroom and they are constantly listening to hear how is the teacher is going to change it this time?

There are a few basic tried, but true variations to the “Class, Yes.” A few that I prefer are “Oh, Class…Oh, Yes,” “Classity Class…Yesity Yes,” and “Class, class, class, class, class….Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” (sung in a little tune). After being in Whole Brain College, “Class-a-doddle-do, Yes-a-doodle-do” became one of my students’ favorites. “Oh, my sweet class…Yes, my sweet teacher,” is one I would like to utilize when I know my students are not real happy with me. Changing ones voice to robot sounds, monster noises, baby talk, giant groans, or any other creative way is another fun way to add variety to the “Class…Yes.” “Class, mam…Yes, mam,” or” Class, sir…Yes, sir,” is one I like to use when my administration walks into the classroom. Wow! Talk about total buy-in, if he or she is not already on board. You know you have hit a homerun when the students are given the opportunity to gain the attention of their peers and they use a version they have created on their own.

Chris Rekstad presented a variation at the Whole Brain Teaching National Conference that has excited me. He states a gnarly multiplication fact and the students respond with not only the answer, but also repeating the problem. For example, if I say, “8 x 7,” the class responds, “8 x 7 equals 56.” I feel sure this is a method I will implement fairly early in the school year. Using various vocabulary terms can also be interesting, but keep in mind that what is said should be short, sweet, and to the point.

Now, put away all those fancy techniques and leave the lights on. The simple, but effective “Class, Yes” method of engaging students will not only, gain their attention, but also capture their imaginations.

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