Friday, August 3, 2012

Certification Webcast: Teach-Okay 516 & Scoreboard 517

"Electrify your brain with learning!" -Coach B.

Today's "Pearls of Wisdom" come from two more Webcast training videos: Teach-Okay and Scoreboard. These videos are great for pushing my learning to the next level. Reading all of the introductory information through the WBT website has been a great introduction for me. These Webcasts have been a great stretch to take the basics to the next level and to learn the next steps for myself with WBT in my classroom! Now, on to the learning...

If you are unfamiliar with the Teach-Okay strategy, check out my original blog post first. This Webinar, Teach-Okay got us started as the "whole brain activator."

One of the things that I really like about this strategy is its ability to be used as a continual comprehension assessment. As students are teaching one another, the job of the teacher is not to sit in her teacher chair and watch each student teach his or her partner, it is to circulate and listen to partners teaching. As teachers, we should travel to all of our students throughout the teaching time. Chris suggests traveling to the "borderline" kids most often because they might or might not understand it.

Gestures are important! Why? Because they activate the motor cortex, the brain's most powerful learning station. Memories are formed by repetition. We need students to switch their brains on and be ready to learn. So many portions of our brain are turned on and ready to learn by Teach-Okay.

There are three types of gestures we can use:
1. Casual Gestures: These are simply gestures we use when we talk with our hands.
2. Graphic Gestures: These are gestures we use to describe a process. For example, introduction (hold hands up top), conclusion (hold hands down at the bottom.)
3. Memory Gestures: Gestures that stand for something.We want to link these to our state standards. For example, holding your hands parallel to mimic an equal sign.

Our short term memory can only hold 3-7 items in it at a time. To move things to long term memory, we need repetition and activation of different brain areas. As we all know, there is very little repetition in lecture teaching. As we have our students use Teach-Okay more and more, they are hearing and saying the learning more and more. Long term memory, check!

Another foundation of WBT is leadership training. Teaching students how to lead different activities like Teach-Okay give the leadership opportunities to students. Let the students choose the signal to let the learning begin. Instead of clapping twice, let the students choose something else to do before they say teach. "On-task" laughter is great!

Critical thinking can also be incorporated very seamlessly into this strategy by asking students a question to discuss with their partner. Here are some first grade critical thinking question examples:
1. How are these two versions of the story The Gingerbread boy alike? How are they different?
2. Our new vocabulary word for today is "impossible." Use the word impossible in three different sentences.
3. Describe what you think the author included in her illustration on the next page before I show you.
4. If we added another character to this book, who should we add and why?

The second webcast focused on more with the scoreboard. This was another webinar packed with ways to stretch my learning in the classroom. The scoreboard becomes the motivator to get kids excited and on the edge of their seats to learn. Who doesn't want that in their classroom?

One thing Coach B. suggested was to begin the scoreboard with no reward in the end. Just play with the smiley and frowny faces alone. If you do use rewards, make sure they are not physical like candy. Also, keep the rewards small because the smaller the reward, the more precious it is. (For example, one minute extra of recess time.) Another great variation is to rename the categories. Instead of using a smiley and frowny, rename them to something fun.

Another great idea Coach B. discussed was the use of a stopwatch. Time students to see how long you can go without a student calling out. Keep track of that time. (I can see great tie ins with the Olympics currently going on! Having students track and compare their scores and try to beat our class "world record" would be a great critical thinking addition to get students to make comparisons and set goals. )

With a "Mighty Oh Yeah," I am on my way to WBT heaven!

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