Saturday, February 14, 2015

Whole Brain Teaching in the Music Classroom-Teach! Ok!

So far we've looked at two main principals of Whole Brain Teaching: Class? Yes! and Mirror!  

The basic premise is that interaction with students should be direct, to the point, and interactive.  (Don't forget fun!  It's fun because students get to DO something; they aren't asked to simply sit still and listen)

Most of the next few implementations of Whole Brain Teaching are extensions of Class? Yes! and Mirror.  

Teach! Ok! takes the students out of speaking in unison to repeat the teacher and now gives them a chance to speak and motion in their own setting.  After mirroring a new concept 4 or 5 times, students are then asked to teach each other!

This is not new; teachers have been saying for years to "turn to a partner and tell them something you learned" or some other variation of the same.  Two differences: whole brain teaching is a more direct command and also puts the right words into each students mouths and hands.

While there is definitely merit in students synthesizing and extrapolating to their own words, that can come after mastering the basics and with a differentiation purpose. 

I already have my kids divided into 1s and 2s for partner games, concentric circles, etc.  Especially for my big chatty classes, I have loved being able to say "1s take a step into the blue circle and face your partner."  I even go so far as boy/girl partners in my toughest class.  So now I say "Teach!" Students respond with "Ok!" and they turn to their partners immediately.  I've seen some teachers say "1s teach 2s" and then there is a "Switch!" instruction where the 2s teach the 1s.  A quick reminder here or there never hurts that a group of 3 is always ok if someone is absent.

I am all about experiencing music and moving to feel the beat and exploring musical concepts but eventually the concepts need to be put into words.  That's what I use these strategies for.  We glide half notes, we've sung half notes, we've felt two heartbeats during half notes, we've explored which instruments can sound for a half note, and now we need to put into words that a half note gets two beats. So when showing my students what a half note looks like, we MIRROR half notes with our hands and proclaim "a half note gets two beats."  Imitation is important anytime something is new.  They imitate me 4, 5, 6 times then I can say TEACH! and they say OK!  then turn to their partner and teach that a half note gets two beats.  Now students are saying it at different times and hearing/seeing it from peers.  It's also a great time for me to scan the room and check that students are able to say and perform on their own.  Most of them can after all the imitation, but there are always a few that need some guidance and that's my time to step it!  (Did we talk about differentiation yet??  Seeing the needs and meeting them)

Implementing any new strategy into your teaching can be tricky for you the teacher, but also the students.  I started small with only Class Yes, then added Mirror, now Teach Ok!.  I had them teaching each other after mirror before I used the command Teach and the response Ok.  It was a small step then to introduce the call and response approach.

Did you notice WBT is all about call and response??  Much more conversational style of directions than commands.  It helps students stay focused and gives them an outlet to talk!

I love to use Teach Ok! at the end of teaching a new concept or at the beginning of a class to review or when lining up to leave as an exit activity.  It gives my students a chance to talk and I like it!

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