November 26, 2012

Can Whole Brain Teaching Work in Your Gym?

Whole Brain What?

I have been teaching for three years now and I have used three different styles of classroom management. Before this year I had not found something I absolutely loved. I did however know some of things I did not want. I did not want to have to talk over students or have students raise their hand to ask a question, me stop class and them ask if they could use the bathroom.  I did not want to have to send my upper elementary students to "timeout". Oh and I definitely did not want to go home with a headache everyday with whistle echoes in my head. So it happened that when moving to a new school, the Whole Brain Teaching philosophy fell right into my lap.

Let me first say that I am not saying this is the only way or best way to teach your class, but as one of my new favorite TV characters Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty might say "Hey, It works for me Jack". What is Whole Brain Teaching? The concept of whole brain teaching is to engage a student’s entire brain, which will increase learning ability.  It is a teaching style which introduces concepts and ideas to a student in a way they are most likely to retain it as well as providing the best atmosphere emotionally which allows a greater degree of comprehension and retention. In laments terms it means that you teach or manage your class using a variety of senses and using both sides of the brain. In my class we do not use all of the WBT concepts. They just will not work in a gym setting. But as for the classroom management portion and a few other concepts, my co-teacher and I have adapted WBT in a way that works for us.


The First part of WBT that we us is called "Class-Yes". It is the most simple and quickest way that I have seen to get students quiet. The teacher says "Class Class" the students then respond "Yes Yes" However you say Class Class the students respond with Yes Yes that way. For example Classidy Class turns in to Yessidy Yes. Class Sir Turns in to Yes Sir. You can even invent you own. Some that we have come up with so far are:

Teacher: Class Train, Student: Yes Woo Woo
Teacher: Class Cowboy, Students: Class Yee Haw
Teacher; Class Turkey, Students: Class Gobble Gobble.

The Five Rules

The Second part of WBT that we use is the 5 rules. Each rule is posted on the wall and has a gesture that goes with it. We call them our “5 Procedures”. The Rules are listed below followed by a video of a third grade class of mine demonstrating the motions.

Rule #1: Follow Directions quickly (the gesture: make your hand shoot forward like a fish)

Rule #2 Raise your hand for permission to speak (the gesture: raise your hand, then pull it down next to your head and make a talking motion.

Rule #3 Raise your hand to leave your seat or area (the gesture: raise your and, and then make a little walking figure with your index and middle finger.)

Rule #4 Make Smart Choices (the gesture: tap one finger to your temple as you say each word.)

Rule #5 Make your PE teacher happy  (the gesture: hold up each thumb and index finger out like an “L” framing your face; bob your head back and forth with each word and smile really big!)

Hands and Eyes

Whenever you want your students to pay close attention to an important point, say, "Hands and eyes!" Your students respond, "hands and eyes!," fold their hands and stare at you intensely.  We have found that this command is also very effective if you have said, "Class!" and your kids are not entirely focused on you when they respond, "Yes!" We use this mainly with K, 1, and 2, but I have seen this done with all grade levels.

Lines Lines Lines

The last major part of WBT that my co-teacher and I use to manage our class is Lines Lines Lines. We use this command to have students stop what they are doing and line up. When they hear lines lines lines they are to clean up what they are doing and walk to line up. We use another version of this where we say squads squads squads when we want them to walk back and sit in their squads.

Will the classroom management portion of Whole Brain Teaching work for you? Well first you have to buy into it. If you are worried that you will look silly this will not work, but then again if you are in the teaching field in general and are worried if students think your cool you might want to rethink your profession. In a later blog I will explain some of the other parts of WBT that works for us in our Gym, but if your interested right now check out the WBT website at

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