Sunday, June 16, 2013

WBT Book Club Chapter 5: The Brain on Whole Brain Teaching

Thinking about your own teaching tendencies, which brain areas are you most likely, and least likely, to activate in your students? 

As I think about my own teaching style, I am more likely to activate the visual cortex (seeing), the Motor Cortex (movement), the Wernicke's Area (listenting), and the Limbic System (Emotions) parts of the brain.  Most teachers tend to incorporate lessons that include the learning style they like best, and I am no different.  I am a very visual learner, so I use images and video clips a lot in my lessons.  I have always tried, though, to incorporate other learning styles, too, although my lessons lean toward auditory and visual.  I have been told by former students that I am called the 'Color-Coding Nazi.' Ha!  Ha!  I do think that color, as opposed to black and white, 'wakes the brain.'  We chant and march, sing, listen to music, and many students even create their own lyrics.  I also have students create their own podcasts (digital voice recordings) that we listen to as a group.  Act-It-Outs are a part of my lesson planning, too.  Students take a topic, often a problem in history, and present a short skit (often moderated by a news host-me) to the class.  I use a great deal of maps in my lessons, as well.  I have student led lessons that allow the kids to mark on large U.S. and world maps about what we have been studying.  

I also use an interactive notebook with my history students.  Essentially, the left side of the notebook is the instructional side, and the right side of the notebook is the student side.  (Left side: input, right side: output)  We color code a lot in our notebooks.  I have used the term 'mental model' since the beginning of my teaching career to describe to students mental images we see in our head when we hear certain terms, ideas, and vocabulary words.  I even have students draw 'mental models' on their notes and on their 'output' notebook side.  There are many 'student side' activities that help learners process new information for later recall.  

Until I found Whole Brain Teaching, I was least likely to activate the Pre-Frontal Cortex (the brain's light switch), the Amygdala (pleasure/pain), and the Broca's Area (Speaking).  Let's face it!  It is very difficult to get middle school students interested in learning content material.  My whole group discussions rarely ever included half the class.  However, since implementing WBT strategies on a 'consistent basis' this spring, I am more alert during my planning of lessons.  Using WBTs Core Four and The Big Seven has helped me be more relaxed and more humorous, an attribute my sixth graders love and appreciate.  I am a better teacher because I think I am activating more parts of my own brain.  Now, I can't imagine teaching without using WB!

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