Saturday, 29 April 2017

Building student engagement with Whole Brain Teaching

If you've never heard of Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) then let me introduce you to the best way I've found to hold students' attention while learning.

I stumbled upon WBT in 2014 and immediately tried it out with my students. I was so excited to find an interactive and fun way to keep them engaged in learning while I was teaching. WBT is a certified training course you can undertake and there are levels of attainment you can work towards, of which I have done none. However, there are some simple tricks WBT has that are super easy to use in your classroom today to keep students engaged.

Let me show you a few of my favourite techniques...

One: Get their attention

This is the first technique I used with WBT on my students and you're probably familiar with call outs and call backs when you want to get their attention. I use:

T: class, class, class
S: yes, yes, yes

and you can funk that up a bit sometimes to:

T: classity, class, class
S: yesity, yes, yes

and so on... the point is to train them to stop and repeat. If you aren't already using this system of ' 'attention getting' you should start now - it really works and you can use it anywhere. The key is to keep the students' attention.

Two: Mirror Words

Teach students 'mirror words' by using a hand gesture or movement whenever those words are said. Watch the video below and notice that this is a student who has been trained in this technique already. She repeats the chant learnt in class and uses the mirror words, the students in the class chant it back and use the same movements with their hands. This reinforces their memory of these concepts by using a different part of the brain (i.e. using their whole brain). Notice how, as the camera pans around the room, every single child in that class is doing the actions. Nobody is gazing out the window and behaviour is completely focused on repeating the chant with the actions.

Tip: If you have hearing impaired students in your room you might like to try and learn some sign language and use this. When I taught in classes with hearing impaired students I would take the time to learn the necessary signs and use these instead as it also teaches the other students in the room some basic signs they can use as well!

Three: Teach, Okay

This is my favourite part of WBT, getting the students to teach each other! You know yourself, there is no quicker way to learn something than when you have to teach it to somebody else! Students are the same. The minute they are asked to teach key concepts to another student they suddenly become the 'teacher' and they all love that! It's important to state the objective very clearly once they are paired up (the old fashioned term might be 'think, pair, share' however this is slightly different as there is no sharing at the end). 

T: class, class, class
S: yes, yes, yes

T: find a partner and hold their hand up when you're ready

T: today we have been learning that a noun is a person, place or thing. I want you to tell your partner what a noun is and give them 5 examples, then switch - *claps hands three times* teach
S: *clap hands three times* okay!

This is when WBT becomes a better strategy than 'think, pair, share' because the teacher can then walk around the room and listen. Listen to what students are saying. Are they on task? Are they correct in their examples? It's a perfect way to gain instant feedback for a strategy you have just taught and guess what, they are teaching themselves so they are not just listening to your voice all the time!

Hint: For higher level students I will often listen and then give them an extension activity such as 'Okay, now I want you to use those nouns in a compound sentence'. Lower students will benefit from some one-on-one you'll be free to give them during this time and you can even pair with them.

This video below shows the Teach, Okay technique (btw how cute is the little girl at the front who turns around and sees the teacher with the camera in her hand 'what are you doing?'!)

There are many more advanced techniques but these are the three that I really love and are quick to train students in. Try them next time you teach and come back and tell me how the lesson went. I'd love to know!

To finish here is my favourite WBT video as it's such a great example of WBT in practice. Enjoy.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

5 Quick and Easy Ideas for Celebrating Mother's Day in the classroom.

It's often difficult to squeeze in Mother's Day activities into an already crowded curriculum but there is real value in making time to recognise seasonal celebrations.

Listed below are 5 of my favourite ways to bring Mother's Day into my classroom.

1 Mother's Day is a cultural celebration - what is a celebration and how have mothers' roles changed over the years?

The study of celebrations are the basis for most History, Geography or Civics studies as an understanding of cultural celebrations, their purpose and their impact on the lives of people around them has deep meaning for countries and cultures.

In Foundation Year HASS, students explore the purpose of Celebrations and sequence these events.

In Year 1 HASS, students explore family structures and roles. It is especially interesting to look at the mother's role in the family and how this may have changed over the years.

In Year 2 HASS, students explore changes in technology and think about Then and Now of items such a clothing (shown below). What technology around the house does your mother use now compared to the past? Has it changed your mother's life? How does your mother's dress compare to mothers in the past?

And in Year 3 HASS, students examine ways in which a celebration is different to a commemoration. What makes Mother's Day a celebration? How is it symbolised in society?

2. Read a Mother's Day picture book and explore some of the key vocabulary connected with mothers. What do mothers do? How do other people celebrate Mother's Day?

3. Mother's Day craft - there is never a more perfect time in the school calendar than Mother's Day to get funky with some fun hands on craft ideas.

This Mother's Day Flower Card is so easy to make - download the template here.

4. Create some Mother's Day Gift Coupons/Vouchers

While making connections to chores that are done around the house (see Year 1 HASS: History) it is a great way to discuss what chores they could offer to do for their mother on Mother's Day.

These come with coupons (US) or vouchers (UK/Aust) that can be quickly made up and placed inside any decorative card and voila! Instant Mother's Day gift that any mother will appreciate! 

5. Make some Mother's Day cookies.

What's a celebration without something delicious? Check out these adorable cookies for Mother's Day (these could be done in a snap in your classroom) or browse the Mother's Day Pinterest board for some ideas to bring your classroom to life with hands on activities!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Win a HASS History and Geography Mega Bundle!

As an author of educational resources, I strive to provide the best quality teaching materials to meet your needs. 

All of TechTeacherPto3's products are aligned to the Australian Curriculum. HASS (History and Geography) products for Foundation Year to Year 3 are already available from TechTeacherPto3 store. 

However, I want to know what you would like next?

I've had requests for Year 4 History and Year 6 Geography... what do YOU need in YOUR classroom to help YOU teach your subjects in line with the curriculum?

I'm giving away 1 x copy of the HASS Mega Bundle which contains over 450 pages of materials for teaching Foundation, Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3 Geography and History and is valued at $40.

To enter all you have to do is:
  1. Click this link to the Survey here.
  2. Tell me what you think in the survey.
  3. Give your email address at the end so you can enter the draw (entries are subscribed to the Foundation into First mailing list if you are not already subscribed).
  4. Check back on the TechTeacherPto3 Facebook Page, Instagram Account or back here on the blog to see the winner announced on the 1st May.

One entry per person,
Competition runs from 1st April until 30th April 2017.
Winner will be announced on all of TechTeacherPto3's social platforms 1st May 2017 and the winner will be notified by email with their downloadable product attached.

UPDATE 1st MAY 2017
and the winner is...