Saturday, January 4, 2014

Whole Brain Teaching - Part Three

Today I'll finish up my short series on Whole Brain Teaching in my Spanish classroom. You can find earlier installments in the following links - Part 1 on my routines and Part 2 on the Class Rules.

 The Scoreboard

A big part of Whole Brain Teaching is rewarding students for following the routines quickly and quietly. That's where the scoreboard comes in. In fact, it's the biggest and most important part of the whole system. On one side of the board are smiley faces. On the other side is a sad face. Students earn smileys or sad faces based on their behavior in class. Every time they get a smiley face they get to have a mini-fiesta and say "'¡Ooooooh sí!¨ and pump their fists.

When they aren´t doing what they´re supposed to - maybe several people are forgetting rule 2, raise your hand for permission to speak or they don´t get quiet quickly after clase, clase - they earn a sad face. With each sad face they shake their heads, frown and say pitifully "Que pena."

In some classes just earning more smileys than sad faces is enough. In most classes if they have more smileys than sad faces then they get a dolphin - our school-wide system of reward points. I always post our schedule and sometimes I will put video, game or dance party at the end of class. Then we decide together how many smileys they have to earn to play the game or get their dance party. They work pretty hard to listen and follow directions if it means they get a dance party.

The trick to the score board is to to base it on how the class is doing.  You don´t want them to get discouraged so you don´t want more than a difference of 3 between the smileys and sad faces. If they get more than three smileys I start getting very picky and will give a sad face because one student isn´t doing what they are supposed to. If they have more than three sad faces I do the same thing but I give smileys for every little thing done correctly.

For individual students who don´t respond well to the group scoring I give them their own separate scoreboard on a post-it. I place it on their desk when I walk in. We have a signal so they know when to give themselves marks, although I usually walk over and give them the sad faces. They get a special reward, a sticker for the younger ones or something out of my treasure box for the older ones.  If students get more sad faces then we talk about what they need to improve next time (kindergarten) or they spend part of their recess with me (fifth grade.) This, I should mention, is my own incarnation of a separate scoreboard for "tough" students. Since I see 670+ students on only a semi-regular basis I can't handle it exactly the way Chris Biffle suggests but so far this system has worked.

There are variations to the scoreboard although I haven´t tried them yet. Since I only see my kids twice a week they haven´t tired of it yet. I do sometimes have my own scoreboard and I give myself sad faces if I forget a student´s name or left something in my office that I need for class. The kids get a kick out of the idea that the teacher could also have a sad face.

So that´s the scoreboard. It works so well that one of our teachers in the building has twins in kindergarten and she informed me recently that her daughters had implemented a scoreboard at home. If mommy doesn´t do want they want she gets get a ¡Que pena! Oops!

So those are the Whole Brain Teaching basics. It's made a world of difference in my classroom management this year. Do any of you use WBT? What are your thoughts?

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