Best Practices: Whole Brain Teaching

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Whole Brain Teaching aka Power Teaching

Whole Brain Teaching is a method, developed by Chris Biffle,* designed to engage students in fun activities that activate different areas of the brain.  The methods are effective with students from preschool to adult.  Since the students are having fun they are more likely to remember the content of the lessons.  Students also demonstrate greater on-task behaviors and increased participation.  The activities that I have found to be most effective for university students are:

Class-Yes.  This is a signal for bringing students back to focus on the instructor after they have been doing group or individual work.  The instructor says ‘Class,’ students respond ‘Yes!’  However the instructor says ‘Class’ students must say ‘Yes!’  and that’s where the fun comes in.  The instructor uses different voices which the students mimic.

Score-board.  This simple device makes the class as a group accountable for responding quickly and accurately to the teacher’s cues.  The class is pitted against the instructor for some reward, such as learning-game time, homework or extra credit (completely under the control of the instructor.)

Micro-lecturing.  The content of any lecture is broken down into easily repeatable steps.  Teacher speaks for less than a minute.  Students repeat the micro-lesson in the Teach-OK technique.

Teach-OK. In this technique the teacher gives a signal (for example, 2 claps) and says ‘Teach!’  Students repeat the signal and say ‘OK!’  Then they turn to a partner and repeat the micro-lesson in a loud voice with big gestures. (Everyone talks at the same time.  The shy people finally feel it’s safe to speak.)

Switch.  A variation of Teach-OK.  Students are in pairs; one is A, and the other is B.  The A’s speak first while the B’s listen and mirror gestures.  When the instructor calls ‘Switch’ the B’s talk while A’s listen.          

Hands and Eyes. Instructor says ‘hands and eyes.’ Students fold hands and stare at the teacher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBeWEgvGm2Y  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6rOIOW2Jf0

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