Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Study Part 3: Whole Brain Teaching For Challenging Kids

Here we are on week 3 of our Whole Brain Teaching Book Study.   This week we are talking about chapters 8-10 which are all about Teach-Okay.  I enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on last week's post.  It is not to late to join in!  If you want to catch up, just grab a copy of the book and pick up where we are or go back and comment on past posts.  Here is the posting schedule.

Chapters 8-10 Teach Okay

     My first thoughts as I read the first few pages of chapter 8 were not very positive.  It seemed like a routine for teachers who teach in a skill and drill method which goes against my ideas about teaching constructively.  I am glad I kept reading.  As I read, I saw that Teach-Okay is much more than I gave it credit for.

     I have come to see Teach-Okay as a great tool for engaging students, holding them accountable and providing more fun in the classroom.  I can see myself using Teach-Okay over and over again especially when giving directions.  I have always tried giving clear directions and then having a student repeat them back to me but the idea of ALL my students repeating the directions back to another student had not occurred to me.

    They author mentions in chapter 8 that Whole Brain Teaching methods prefer students working in pairs over groups of 3 or 4.  I think this is HUGE to student learning.  As a student myself and a teacher who has worked with kids of all ages, I find the majority of the time pairs are the way to go.  When I work in groups of 3 or 4, it always seems like someone is doing all the work and someone else is just along for the ride.  I almost always use pairs in the classroom and really feel that everyone gets a lot of learning out of a lesson when working in pairs.

     I have been using think-pair-share in my classes for several years now and it has had amazing results.  I think Teach-Okay is the next step along the way for me and my students.  I love how pairing up and teaching someone or summarizes provides opportunities for kids to practice speaking and thinking clearly and having the chance to articulate their answers in a non threatening environment.  If I had more opportunities like this as an elementary school student I think some of my painful shyness would have vanished much earlier.

   While students are doing think-pair-share or Teach-Okay the teacher has a great opportunity to just listen and do some formative assessment.  Who is talking?  What are they saying?  Do students have the big ideas?  I find that listening to kids talk in pairs is one of the best ways I can monitor my teaching and my students' understanding.  With some practice, I am now able to hear several conversations simultaneously and use it as an opportunity to see if all, some or none of my students are understanding the big ideas.  This helps me better adjust the tempo and emphasis of my lessons and allows me to see who needs more work with the big ideas.

    I am loving the ideas presented in this book and can't wait to read more!  Have you tried using Teach-Okay in your classroom?  Tell us more!

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