Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Study Part 4: Whole Brain Teaching For Challenging Kids

Here we are on week 4 of our Whole Brain Teaching Book Study.   This week we are talking about chapters 11-14 which certainly cover a lot of big ideas.  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.

Chapter 11: Scoreboard (Level 1)

     This chapter is all about using the scoreboard in the classroom.  What first might seem like a deceptively simple idea seems to really work with kids of all ages.  I have worked with a teacher who has been doing a simple version of scoreboard for years and it is amazing how hard kids will work for a few minutes of recess or a quick in class game.  I myself have pulled out a simple scoreboard when dealing with challenging classes or on challenging days when kids are having a hard time remaining focused.  

     I love all the recommendations in the chapter for the different ways to vary scoreboard.  I have never done this every day because it seems to get boring pretty fast but with all these variations, I think it could work for the full school year.  

Chapter 12: Mirror, Hands and Eyes

     I think it is super important to make sure kids are listening when you are saying something that is very important.  I have used the phrase "hands in your lap and eyes on me" over and over again in the classroom.  It has been a great way to get focused attention.  I ask for it then wait until I have it before moving on.  This is very much like hands and eyes described in this section without the gesture.  I think adding the gesture will help make this even better.  

     I have not tried much described in the mirror section of this chapter but I find the brain research behind the idea fascinating.   The idea that getting kids to mirror you can actually rewrite their brain is some pretty powerful research.  I definitely think that learning more about how the brain works makes me a better teacher.   

    This chapter also presents the idea of industrial strength Whole Brain Teaching.  I can only imagine the difficulties some teachers face with students and am so happy to see that there is another level of this that is designed to specifically work for the most challenging students.  I am also happy to know that this resource is out there if I ever need it.  

Chapter 13: Daily Classroom Procedures

     As much as I enjoy spending so much time in other teacher's classrooms, it can completely drive me crazy sometimes.  I see the good, the bad and the in-between when it comes to classroom management and the amount of time wasted on classroom procedures.  My biggest pet peeve is wasting time sharpening pencils.  I buy a few huge boxes of pencils to begin the year dig out my lovely pencil sharpener and spend an hour sharpening pencils to start off the school year.  I give pencils to kids who need them all the time and also let them trade for a pre-sharpened one.  I have even convinced kids that it is a huge honor to be able to touch my pencil sharpener and excellent behavior combined with getting work done will sometimes allow a few lucky students to earn the privilege of sharpening pencils for me.  I can absolutely not stand wasted minutes for all these little procedures and wish all teachers would read this chapter and gain some new ideas! 

Chapter 14: Scoreboard Levels

     This chapter provides a brief overview of the seven levels of scoreboard.  I am excited to read more about these! 

Have you tried using scoreboard in your classroom?  What classroom procedures drive you crazy?  Please respond in the comments below!  


  1. I try to do as Regie Routman and teach with a sense of urgency. Wasted time is not cool. :)
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. I like the idea of teaching with a sense of urgency!

  2. I just started using the scoreboard this week with amazing results. I could not believe my fourth graders would buy into this, but they did. I think the key will be switching up the rewards so they don't lose their enthusiasm. I just received this book last weekend and can't wait until I have more time to delve into it.

    1. Awesome! I am reading next week's chapters and they really take the scoreboard t the next level.