Friday, July 18, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching {Chapters 4 & 5}

This post is focused on Chapters 4 & 5 of Whole Brain Teaching  for Challenging Kids.

You can find my thoughts on the Chapters 1, 2 and 3 {here}!

These 2 chapters were read, on the winding mountain roads through Tennessee. Did you see that I said winding...that is why only 2 chapters were read! I forgot how easy it is to get car sick and a headache. Good thing we stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch and bought some peppermint sticks...


Chapter 4: Charting Progress

"You can't tell where you going without a chart of where you've been." (pg. 14)

 Chapter 4 was an interesting read about Mrs. Maestra. She gave a great  example of how police officers and soldiers have to make wise decisions and have self control during "battles" or "murder scenes." Imagine, if in the midst of a horrific crime a police officer lost his cool. It could be a matter of life or death.
In a sense, it is no different for teachers (but a much easier task for us than them).

 We have to maintain control during difficult situations, challenging students etc. Our emotions must stay the same. We cannot allow our student to see us wavering. Our reactions to situations and students must remain calm. {yelling is not going to solve anything!} Mrs. Maestra decided her primary classroom goal would be to manage her behavior not the students.

She split her class into 4 different groups, not known to the students
  • The Alphas (4 points):  Your model students
  • The Go Alongs (3 points): Usually will do as teacher ask
  • The Fence Sitters (2 points): Students could go either way. New students were also placed in this group.
  • Challenging Students (1 point): The students that rarely or never followed directions.
At the end of every week, she would determine where each student fell into the groups. She then totaled the points and divided by the total number in her class. She would then have an average score for the behavior of her students. Every week, she could tell if her classroom management improved. Her goal was for each student to move up 1 level by the end of the year. She did create a group called, the Leaders that would be above the Alphas to have another level to reach.

My Thoughts

I actually had to read this chapter twice, maybe because of the hills but mostly because I needed to. Don't good readers sometimes have to read a section twice?? The first time I read this my honest thought was, seriously?? That takes a lot of time. When would someone do this? How would you do this with an objective mind? I honestly thought it was silly.

But then riding in the car, I decided to read it again with an open mind. I began to see why this could be helpful. This would perfect for a teacher to do who struggles with classroom management, a new teacher or veteran teacher. Okay any teacher. After thinking about, I really don't think it would take much time. Have a check list ready and on Friday right before you walk out the door give each kiddo a score. I actually think it would be interesting and informative to do. I am a very competitive person and I could see myself actually working hard to get my score to improve each time. It would also be an eye opener to see on paper exactly where each student falls and may help you create some sitting charts.

That said, I don't see myself doing this every week. However, it may be something you want to consider doing in the beginning of the school year to help you see which students really are you Alphas and Challenging students. It would be interesting to see how many students start as Alphas that first week and move into Fence Sitters...oh the honeymoon phase for some.

Chapter 5: The Brain on Whole Brain Teaching

  I am not a science major. I have never been completely interested of the inner working of the brain. I know there is a lot going on up there and I cannot fathom how it all works. With that said, this chapter talks a lot about the working of the brain. I will not even attempt to try to explain it all to you. I am not an expert at all in this area so I encourage you to read this chapter to get all of the technical terms and the process of the brain. It is a good read..if you enjoy that kind of thing. :)

After, I got passed all the brain jargon, then some things started making sense. The examples used, were much easier for this brain to understand... especially on a summer day. So, imagine you have this cute sweet baby in front of you. You start saying bah-bah-bah...what is the baby going to eventually try to do? They will try to say it back. You laugh. The baby begins to laugh. The child is mimicking you. Ahh now this I can relate to!

Stand in front of a class and begin to slowly clap your hands. What happens? They start to clap along with you. Now make a pattern with clapping. They will follow your lead.  They are mirroring your behavior or in more technical terms that I learned from this book, activating their neurons!

My Thoughts

Okay now this makes some sense to me. Once I got past the brain jargon. :)  I have seen this work in my class every year. The majority of my students' learning comes from when they are mirroring my behavior. I am really excited to read on about the Whole Brain Teaching learning strategies!

The Whole Brain Teaching learning strategies are discussed in the next several chapters. These are the 7 strategies that I will be soon posting about!
  1. Class-Yes
  2. Teach-Okay
  3. The Five Classroom Rules
  4. The Scoreboard
  5. Hands and Eyes
  6. Switch
  7. Mirror
Stay tuned and make sure you are following me BLOGLOVIN' to catch the next post!
If you are reading along with me or even if your not, share your thoughts below! :)


Chapter 6 & 7 can be found {Here}


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I'm really interested in giving the students scores for the week... although I wonder how time consuming it might be. Something to think about!

    Trials and Triumphs

    1. Thanks for reading! That is why I am thinking, maybe I could do that just the first few weeks..,just to see!

  2. I really like the idea of charting progress!! I agree, every week would be too much! But it'd definitely something to try! I've seen/heard/read things about Whole Brain Teaching for years and have always wondered what the big deal was about the class repeating. it makes perfect sense!! Thank you for sharing what you're learning!!

    A Tall Drink of Water

    1. Thank you so much for reading! I am learning a lot through this book. I am so glad that I put this on my list for reading this summer. I just posted the next couple of chapters. Be sure to check it out...freebies are included! :)



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