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Monday, May 21, 2012

Could WBT really be that good?


Awarded 6/28/2012
When I started dabbling in Whole Brain Teaching about 2 years ago, I was more than half way finished the school year with a group of 24 somewhat challenging kids that generally fell into one of three groups- the “interrupters”, the “sneaky talkers”, and the “I could care lessers”. I needed to bring them in and get better overall control of my classroom. My observations in the past all said I needed to work on that management part of my classroom environment and even though I hadn't had one in 2 years, I knew that was still the case. I came across WBT online and wondered, "Could it really be that good and work as well as these teachers out there claim it does?"

I had nothing to lose, so I began with the basics - the 5 rules and the scoreboard. The students took to the rules and gestures easily because I had used gestures in some of my science lessons not knowing about their part in WBT. For winning the scoreboard, I allowed the students to have a minute of free talking time, which was a big hit! Using the rules and the smilies/frownies alone helped to cut back on some of the bigger problems I was having and I was pleasantly surprised. But as the last few months of school neared, their behaviors started to creep back in. It was time for another change.

Part 1 of the change was our rewards. After winning a set number of times, I pulled from a bag of choices - No shoes day, movie snack, extra recess. They enjoyed having more than just the minute of talking and the surprise element of what the reward was made it even sweeter to win. Of course they had their favorites, but they didn't seem to mind getting any of the new options.

Part 2 - Enter the Practice Cards! It was amazing the difference they made! I told my students that I would give them a trial run day so they could experience what the cards would be like and to show them just how often some of them were “forgetting” the class rules despite our reviews of them throughout the day. To say they were shocked at the end of the day by the high number of practice cards that would have been handed out is an understatement. So, when we played for real the next day, I thought I had another class in my room. Only a handful of students received cards, and many of  those students ended up being my habitual rule breakers that needed that practice 3-4 times a week even when I increased the practice time.

For the first time in many years, I made it through the end of the year without draining myself of all my energy trying to keep my class from going berserk. I knew that WBT was going to be part of my classroom from then on and I read and reviewed everything I could that summer to prepare for this year. How did this year go? I’ll talk about that in another post. :)

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