Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Whole Brain Teaching Wednesday! Certification Videos & 5 Step Lesson Plans

      So today was my second day student teaching. Our day consisted of staff meetings, individual meetings with the principal and prep periods alternating throughout the day. I am going to provide an update tomorrow, as my student teaching schedule has changed DRASTICALLY (in a good way).

     In the mean time, I have exciting news!! Our principal, "Mrs. R" has told me that I should be able to film my class when I come back to student teach in October! :) Our school has a letter that goes home to all students at the beginning of the year for parents to sign which gives teachers permission to take photos/videos of their students that can be used on the school website and around the school itself. She is going to discuss it with her team and see if we will send home another letter explaining that a student teacher will be filming the students but we aren't sure yet. No matter what needs to be done, the good news is that it will all be done and good to go by the time I return in mid-October!

     So, in addition to working on my university courses (which start on Monday) and prepping for the four grades I will be teaching, I also need to start fine tuning those WBT skills for my certification video. (Yes.... for those of you who caught that, I will now be teaching four different grades... tune in tomorrow for that news). So after snooping through the forum and through the certification notes, here are some requirements and tips for certification videos:
- At least 5 to 7 minutes in length
- Uses Class - Yes
- Uses Teach - Ok
- Uses the Scoreboard
- Uses the 5-step lesson plan
- See Farrah Shipley's video for an example
**Remember that this video is filmed in a Kindergarten class and is not an example of how I will be teaching students at the High School level, it is just meant to show the use of different WBT strategies**

     Although I am still working out exactly what units I will be teaching in October I feel more than confident in regards to the Manitoba curriculum. I also feel very confident about implementing "Class-Yes" (can't teach without that now!), "Teach-Ok" and "The Scoreboard" in the classrooms I will be in. One area I need to work on, however, is creating lesson plans that resemble the 5-step format promoted by WBT while also meeting the lesson plan requirements of my ed degree which follows a 3-step format. Essentially, I think I can use the 5-step format within my existing 3-step format. More specifically, I will be using the 3-step format that I am familiar with to organize the content of my curriculum and the WBT 5-step format to organize how I present the content to my students. When I have a sample prepared I will make sure to post it for clarification..... but first what is the WBT 5 Step Lesson Plan?

 “There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.”
― Robert Frost

    Think back to when you went through the school system, or even through your university degree, how many times can you remember when you zoned out during a class? Did you ever find yourself day dreaming? Doodling? If you used a laptop in your university classes, did you find yourself on your favourite websites instead of following the lecture? Face it, the longer we are at the front of the room talking, the more students we lose due to boredom or confusion. Our classrooms have many different students in our classrooms with many different needs and many different intelligences. If we are talking for long periods of time what happens to our kinesthetic learners? Our inter-personal learners?

     The WBT 5 Step Lesson Plan is specifically designed to ensure that we, as teachers, are not spending an entire classroom period at the front of the room talking while our students are left with no opportunity to be an active part of their own learning. To clarify, the 5 Step Lesson Plan does not shorten how MUCH content you cover with your students, it just changes how your DELIVER the content. If you check out the format below, the 5 Step Lesson Plan obviously begins with the WBT attention getter "Class-Yes". Once you have the attention of your students you begin your lesson and pass the learning onto your students using "Teach-Ok". The basic format is repeated again and again as you make your way through your content; ensuring that the time you spend talking is reduced into small portions that are separated by times where your students are teaching, reviewing and clarifying with their partner.

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Biffle, Chris. (2011) Whole Brain Teaching: Lesson Design & Delivery. pg. 18
     To use the 5 Step Lesson Plan to its full potential, ensure that you also understand the WBT strategy of "Teach-Ok" which will be used to break up the time the teacher spends delivering content at one time. To read one of my first posts on "Teach-Ok" click here. The following describes the "Teach-Ok" content as it is stated by Jeff Battle on the Whole Brain Teaching website.

Teach-OK works like this: Divide your class into teams of two. One student is a One, the other member of the team is a Two.You want students to do a large amount of the teaching. Present a small amount of information, complete with gestures. When you finish, look at the class and clap two times, say “Teach!” Your students clap twice and respond “OK!”  Look at our Power Teachers videos for examples of this approach.
Teach your students to copy your gestures (kinesthetic) and mimic the emotion in your tone of voice (limbic).  As your students teach each other, move around the room listening to what they are saying.  This is an excellent opportunity to monitor student comprehension.  Then, call them back to attention with the Class-Yes!  If you are not convinced your students have understood your lesson, repeat it.  Otherwise, go on to the next small group of points.

     "Teach-Ok" has a lot of potential in the classroom. When "Teach-Ok" is often shown in WBT videos, students are almost always only repeating the exact words the teacher has stated. Although this may be needed/beneficial in younger grades or for specific examples such as definitions, the basic strategy of "Teach-Ok" can be used to have students summarize the content in their own words, relate information back to previous lessons, evaluate background information on the content, or what ever else you may require in your classroom! Whatever you use "Teach-Ok" for, remember, you want to ensure that you are presenting information in shorter chunks and encouraging visual, verbal, mental and physical engagement!

     So while I will continue to use my required 3-step lesson plan format to organize what content I am presenting to my students, I will be trying my best to use the 5 Step Lesson Plan to organize how I present that content. I will be consciously trying to shorten the amount of time I spend talking and increase the amount of time my students spend actively reviewing the material using various intelligences (visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal, etc). In the past I would use "Teach-Ok" a few times in a class and would often make a big deal of it. I am hoping that this time, however, I will be able to incorporate it smoothly into our regular routine so it becomes second nature. Wish me luck!

To learn more about the 5 Step Lesson Plan, check out the FREE e-book download, Whole Brain Teaching: Lesson Plan and Delivery, on the Whole Brain Teaching FREE e-book page. (You will need to register if you haven't already)

To watch a FREE webcast on the 5 Step Lesson Plan, check out Program 535: Oh So Simple Lesson Plans on the Whole Brain Teaching website. 

Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to see Jeff Battle's instructions on "Teach-Ok" in context or check out Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see this strategy in action


  1. Hi Miss L!
    I found you on Farley's Currently and I'm a new follower! We've tried to use WBT with our firsties this year. It's been going ok, so I'm looking forward to spending more time on your blog and learning!


    1. Welcome Maria! I love finding new blogs, especially other teachers using WBT :) If you ever have any questions I'd be happy to help out.

      Thanks so much for following!

  2. That's awesome, Kirsten! You have been working so hard, and are so deserving of many accolades! All the best as you begin this next leg in your teaching program!

    Mrs. Stoltenberg's Second Grade Class

    1. Thanks Nancy, your support means a lot! :)


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