Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brain Toys

For the past few weeks, Chris Biffle has been broadcasting live from his garage on Saturday mornings.  I didn't have the time to participate until last week and when I finally joined in, I was shocked that I have gotten so far behind in the world of Wibbeting! 

Last Saturday I learned about the new Brain Toys: "Gestures that students use to develop critical thinking skills and...enliven lessons."  I've got to go back and rewatch the show, but this is what I gleaned from my preliminary viewing:

Use the question answer technique to help students orally practice answering in complete sentences.

Use air punctuation to reinforce punctuation as students answer aloud.

When I first heard about the question answer brain toy, I was thinking, "This sounds wonderful...but do we really have time in the day to sit around and practice answering questions?"  The answer was YES.   I introduced the question answer while discussing plant parts in science.  It was really basic information that the students probably learned back in K.  So it was the perfect way to review the content while also practicing this skill of answering in complete sentences, AND have some fun!  I wrote a sentence frame on the board, modeled it, and let the students create their own question answer sentence with a partner.  It only took a few minutes, and I will definitely tie this in to other content areas.

Back when my 2nd graders were studying complete sentences, my students used a gesture for capital letters (sweeping hands up with a "whoosh") and periods (flicking the pointer finger while making a clicking noise).  I thought it was an awesome idea to use this air punctuation as students construct complete sentences orally.  So many of the students know that they need capital letters and periods, but they just don't remember to use them in their writing. 

Today we were working on constructing topic sentences.  As students shared, the class mirrored my air punctuation.  I was so impressed when a student raised her hand after the first example and pointed out that we should use the captial letter gesture when referring to proper nouns as well.  YES!  She received a ten finger woo with lightning sizzles, by the way.  The students were engaged, involved, and having fun!  After this practice, they were let loose to write their own topic sentence for their paper.  This is an excellent way to scaffold the ESL students and those that need extra support.

I love that the WBT strategies just make so much sense.  They solve problems that all teachers encounter.  They are quick and easy to incorporate in a variety of situations.  They are free, require no materials, and they are fun!

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