Saturday, January 31, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching in the Music Classroom

I stumbled upon Whole Brain Teaching on one of my Pinterest filled Saturdays.  I was searching for ways to help my extra chatty impulsive first grade class.  Here's the video I found. 


After seeing this video, I was impressed by 6 things.

The students were DOING something while waiting for everyone to be ready.

There were HANDMOTIONS!  I love handmotions!

The students were ECHOING all the time and with purpose.
The students were invited to TALK with one another and they chose to stay on topic.

The length of time that the students were asked to SIT STILL and LISTEN was really short.
There was some kind of SCOREBOARD for when the teacher got what she wanted.

I was mesmerized!  I emailed the teacher in this video and spent hours doing YouTube research and googling everything Whole Brain Teaching.  I started talking to other teachers in my building. I was unsure of what Whole Brain Teaching could look like in a music classroom but I was sure that it would be super cool in a regular classroom.

As more teachers in my building started talking and learning about Whole Brain Teaching, we approached the principal about focusing our building professional development reading on the book written by Chris Biffle, Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (available on Amazon Kindle for FREE!).  Reading the book, I was more and more convinced that this approach to teaching would be fabulous for not only the challenging kids, but for the most well behaved kids as well.  It's not about a behavior plan, its about a teaching plan.

So what about my music classroom?  It works!  Some parts more than others but the more I explore and try new things, the better my students are behaved and the more they learn. 

Enough to wet your appetite?  The Whole Brain Teaching website has tons of information, research, free resources and webinars!  I'll be delving more into how WBT has impacted my music classroom and transformed how my students learn so stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Light bulb!

I think I am predestined to love Bingo.  My great grandmother was known for calling out bingo numbers in her sleep.  I have bingo downloaded on my iPad and may or may not spend too much time on the weekends playing...

My first year teaching I decided to make a Bingo game for my kiddos learning to correlate names of rhythmic notation to pictures.  In my inexperience, I printed them out, mounted on construction paper and laminated for "future use."  I was certainly disappointed when the dry erase markers didn't exactly erase from the laminated cards and was even more disappointed when my students had dry erase marker all over their hands, clothes, and my beautiful rug!

The next year I had 10 iPads in my classroom and I was looking for easy ways to impress the principal that I was using them even during the first weeks of school.  I thought I was so smart when I put the Bingo Cards in dropbox and downloaded the images onto each iPad.  Then I did the math...10 iPads x 10 Bingo Cards each = 100 images to download.  The free whiteboard app I downloaded worked to upload an image but if the students wanted to erase their marks, it would erase their board too and it was loaded with ads.

Fast forward another few years, a few more app trials, and lost more bingo filled weekends.  I learned about Explain Everything and bring able to post a QR Code and my students would be able to download and navigate to a pre-made EE Project.  

Light bulb!

1 iPad x 10 Bingo Cards = EASY!  

I took a break from Bingo on my iPad to put all my Music Bingo Cards into Explain Everything and voila!  Instead of teaching my kiddos how to upload an image and lock it into place, they simply scan the QR code and have access to all 10 bingo boards.

I attached a QR code to my SMARTBoard file that has my Bingo Spinner and that was that!  I love technology! 
You can get my new Instrument Bingo game for SMARTBoard and ready for Explain Everything on my TPT store!  Click on the image to link over.