Friday, 13 January 2012

Hello..... Is Anyone There?

     Well its official, I can't resist Google and have moved my blog over to Blogger as opposed to Weebly. Now don't get me wrong, I liked Weebly. It was very "mickey mouse" and for someone that is not very tech-savvy it worked perfectly for me. I decided, however, that with Blogger I would be able to reach more people and make this blog even better for you!

whole brain teaching in canada
One thing that I've mentioned before is that since I've discovered whole brain teaching I have found the WBT community incredibly supportive. I've been fortunate enough to be able to network with a lot of great educators through their classroom blogs and the WBT forum.

The thing that has been lacking, however, is a strong Canadian presence! I was able to get in touch with a WBT Intern from British Columbia but that is it. I know that this strategy originated in the United States so I knew not to expect as high of numbers in Canada, but I thought I would hear from a few more people that just one.

     When I was searching for classroom management videos, WBT showed up on the first page of YouTube. Other people must be finding these videos the way I did, right? So why have I not found a WBT community in Canada? It makes me wonder what is it about whole brain teaching that attracts or repels educators? Obviously, you know that I am a fan of this strategy. My reasons for this are discussed in my past posts, my "About Miss L" page and in future posts.

     So for right now, I am wondering what you think the pros/cons are of whole brain teaching as a classroom management strategy. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Check out these videos if you haven't already!





7 comments:

  1. It looks great!! By the way, I featured your 10 finger woo and It's cool post on the we teach video this week. Check out the discussion
    http://www.weteachgroup.com/group/weteachblogswelove/forum/topics/featured-on-we-teach-management-strategies-for-the-classroom-and

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  2. Thanks Jackie! I'm heading there right now to check it out :)

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  3. From the videos of WBT that I have seen, here are what I perceive to be the pros and cons:

    PROS
    1. It's good for kinaesthetic learners. The gestures might help some other students learn as well.
    2. It would also be good for students who can't sit still, or when the class as a whole is getting restless.
    3. The constant actions and talk leave little room for disruptive behaviour.
    4. Strategies such as the 10-Finger Woo, or a variation on it, might be good encouragement for some students.

    CONS
    1. It's probably not very good for intrapersonal learners, or those who are just shy to begin with. One might argue that WBT will help these kids to overcome their shyness, but I would argue that "plunging into the deep end" is not always the best way to overcome fear- some people benefit more by gradual immersion instead.
    2. It might be hard for everyone to keep up the energy levels all day. If I'm tired, taking notes to learn things would probably tire me out far less than moving around to learn things.
    3. The constant actions and talk leave room for little individuality since so much of it is scripted. Do students get opportunities to ask questions amidst all of this? Also some students might actually find the actions and talking distracting, as if their senses are being overloaded.
    4. WBT seems very teacher-centred to me, especially Rule #5 ("Keep your dear teacher happy!"). I don't think it's very healthy for students to do what they can just to please some authority figure. It's highly likely that if you respect your students, they will pay you the same respect in return, without the need for this rule. In these cases, Rule #5 just undermines the students' own intrinsic motivation to be respectful.

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  4. Thanks for the critique Hienuri! I am always looking for the opinions of other educators. What school do you teach at? If you don't mind me asking, with this critique in mind, do you think it might work in your classroom or with certain students?

    I think one the important things to keep in mind is that a teacher who practices Whole Brain Teaching can still be a teacher who keeps in mind the best interest of their students. Perhaps you know some teachers who do not follow this concept, but I do plan to always have my students and the learning be the focus as opposed to myself as the teacher.

    With this in mind, some WBT strategies would not be utilized if it impacted the students negatively. I would like to point out that many of the WBT videos are edited to ONLY show the main techniques as they are used as a viewing tool for other educators who want to see these specific techniques in place. A classroom who uses WBT functions the same as any other classroom and students are still encouraged to ask questions and participate in meaningful conversations. It is just the delivery of the information that is tailored to the students. (I realize that this does to transfer over well through many of the videos) With this in mind, your classroom does not have to be high-energy all day.

    I have found that Rule 5 is highly debated among a lot of people! I am not sure if you have read much about it but the purpose of it is for teachers who happen to have a highly challenging student or class. Many students will challenge teachers with loopholes to many classroom policies (ex. I wasn't out of my desk, I was just going to the pencil sharpener). That action, however, was disruptive if it was in the middle of silent reading time. By including rule 5 it tends to stop some of this challenging because they cannot argue that they are making you happy by doing that. By no means is it meant to be a rule that dictates that the students serve the teacher, many teachers I know do not include it at all!

    I think it is important to realize that any of these suggestions can work for certain students and cannot for others. As a teacher it will be our goal to ensure we have full comprehension of our student's needs to ensure that we know what will work best for them and then tailor our teaching style to them. Remembering that these strategies are guidelines that do not have to be the focus of the room when put in the hands of a competent teacher. Students and learning should always be put above the teacher!

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  5. I'm not a teacher, I'm a high-school student, which may make it easier for me to view WBT from a student's point of view (though admittedly I cannot speak for all students as we all carry such vast differences between us). There are some aspects of WBT that I cannot envision working well in some of my classes: for example, the people in my maths and science classes don't seem to be all too enthusiastic most of the times we have to do group work, so the partner aspects of WBT may not work so well here. I also feel that the microlectures are too memory-centred to work well in a subject like English (and to some extent social studies) in which discussion and toying with ideas may be the better approach. I also can't imagine teaching Russian history from the first half of the 20th century (the Russian Revolution and Stalin in power) using WBT- I would feel that gestures would undermine the gravity of these events. However, when I was in primary school, there were some students who always seemed to be desperate to run around outside, and they would probably benefit from some movement in the classroom. There are also one or two classes in my high school that would benefit from some more structure and authority (mainly the foreign language classes).

    I agree with you that perhaps it is not the methods used, but the teacher who uses them, that can make a real difference. I suppose that the original Rule #5 does put off people such as myself by making it seem as if WBT is some kind of authoritarian regime where the students' interests are second to that of the teacher's. I too have seen different ways in which this rule is tweaked so that the students' interests may be better served, such as changing the rule entirely or by telling the students that they can keep their teacher happy by following the other four rules. Dropping the rule entirely, as you have mentioned, would also work: that example that you gave could fit under Rule #4 (you can't use the pencil sharpener excuse during silent reading as there would be no reason to use a pencil unless, for whatever reason, you were annotating the book). Also, I think students should be aware that they should be respectful of the teacher as a person, and having a rule for that undermines their instinct to do so, but considering my foreign language classes at school I agree that it is a bit of wishful thinking.

    I'm assuming that what you're saying is that WBT basically replaces only the "lecture" part of the "lecture, possible class discussion, schoolwork" framework with WBT teaching methods. I suppose that if that's the only part that changes then it's not so bad, but at the same time, I cannot imagine myself learning by copying the gestures, words and tone of voice of the teacher, as firstly I'm not formulating my own gestures and words on my own, and secondly I would feel like the teacher is micro-managing my actions. I feel that I learn best by writing and playing with ideas (maybe I'm an intrapersonal learner?). Perhaps my view is a little biased, though, because I'm sure that there are some people who are kinesthetic, auditory or interpersonal learners who would benefit from the gestures and peer interaction- which you seemed to allude to in the last paragraph.

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  6. Thanks for the post Hienuri! I really appreciate getting feedback from a student and I find it interesting to hear about the structure of your classrooms and how they compare to classrooms in rural Manitoba. :)
    I actually made a new post regarding Differentiated Instruction and how WBT would fit into that model. I try to address how I will accommodate different learning styles in my classroom, although it is just a brief overview, but maybe you would find it of interest .

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  7. Hi Miss L, I would be interested to read the post on Differentiated instruction could you point me in the direction of this post?

    Loving your blog btw thanks for telling me about it through the WBT forum, I'm planning to use WBT during my practical next term (after Easter in Australia)

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Thank you for commenting!