Friday, July 26, 2013

WBT Rules

Whole Brain Teaching has 5 easy rules...

. . . and these rules will cover every rule you've ever had in your classroom!

But, maybe you're one of many teachers who see the importance in having the kiddos come up with rules that they think are important in a classroom. I have the solution (because I'm one of those teachers too)! Do your normal first day of school "what kinds of rules should we have in our classroom?" activity, but take it one step further. Create a rule sort. Share WBT rules with your kiddos and work as a class to sort the student generated rules into each WBT rule category. I promise you (or the kiddos) will be able to match every rule the class comes up with to a WBT rule!

I know, I know, I have you at the edge of your seats and you're screaming "Tell Me the Rules!"... however, I need to let you in on one VERY important detail of WBT first. Part of using your whole brain during WBT really hones in on movement. I know you can think of at least one student who would LOVE an excuse to move around, and I'm sure you would LOVE that movement to be USEFUL and not simply a distraction... and so, I present "gestures."

Everything, and I really mean everything, you teach while using WBT has some type of a gesture. Many concepts have gestures the wonderful whole brainer creators have made up for teachers (less thinking for you, the teacher, yay!), other gestures, you can make up on your own, or your kiddos might even make them up!

Okay onto the rules...

Whole Brain Teaching Rules:
Each rules has a gesture (a super easy gesture) that goes along with the rule. The rules are very easy to remember, and having a gesture makes it even easier for your kiddos to remember.

Rule #1 Follow Directions Quickly

Rules #2 Raise Your Hand for Permission to Speak

Rule #3 Raise Your Hand for Permission to Leave Your Seat

Rule #4 Make Smart Choices

Rule #5 Keep Your Dear Teacher Happy!

Check out this video to see the gestures in action in a classroom:

Most of the gestures are pretty easy to see if you watch closely, but here is a breakdown of the gesture that goes with each rule by the founder of WBT, Chris Biffle...

The only differences you may notice in the video of the class above and Chris Biffle is for Rule #1 the class put both hands together and wiggled them (that's how I had my class do that rule too) and Rule #4 Chris Biffle uses one hand to point to his head, in my class, we pointed with both our pointer fingers on either side of our head. Do whatever's comfortable and works with your kiddos.


I found fantastic freebie posters for the WBT rules (& other WBT goodies) from Lyndsey over at "A year of many firsts"! Check out the fellow whole brainer's post here and get your own copy!

WBT Rules in my class... In my last post, I mentioned that I didn't start my WBT journey until the 100th day of school. So, when I introduced these rules, we talked about how our former classroom rules fit into our new WBT rules. We were able to categorize each rule we had created at the beginning of the year into these 5 rules categories. Like I said before, you could easily have your kiddos come up with what rules they think are important in the classroom and categorize them in categories for each of the 5 WBT rules.

When I introduce the rules this year, since I won't have previously established rules to categorize, I plan on discussing in detail & modeling exactly what each of these rules means and looks like. I had a great class this past year, so basically sorting our already established rules was enough for them, but starting on the first day will need discussion and modeling for sure!

Repeat, repeat, repeat; practice, practice, practice
Once my kiddos learned all the rules, we started every day by going over the rules. I start the day with my kiddos in a morning meeting.  In my morning meeting, I use some responsive classroom such as greeting and team building activities plus calendar math. To incorporate the WBT rules, all we did was have students lead us in the rules every day at the start of our morning meeting. During most morning meetings we would go over the rules twice. The first student would lead the rules in a "normal" voice and the second student got to lead the rules in a "silly" voice. So really, adding the WBT rules did not add any extra time to our regular routine.

We would also go over the rules to start our afternoon. This past year due to our enrichment and specials schedule, I had my guided reading/centers block after lunch and recess. As a way to get my kiddos ready to learn for the remainder of the day, we would have a quick meeting where we would have 1-2 students lead us in the rules, then discuss any new centers and the afternoon's schedule. We already had a quick post recess meeting as part of our routine, so adding a rule reminder was only about 30 extra seconds in our day.

Looking forward...
One thing I would like to add this year is when I notice a student is not following one of our rules, I will say that rule number and *hopefully* I can train my kiddos to say the rule and do the gesture. This is a suggestion Chris Biffle gives, but I never got into the routine of using it as reinforcement and practice of the rule. At the beginning of the year, I may even stop and call a class meeting to go over again what these rules mean and look like if I'm noticing multiple students breaking the rules.

But, sometimes the rules don't apply!
Sometimes, as any teacher knows, there are times it's okay to talk without raising your hand and times if the kiddos had to raise their hand to leave their seat it would make your life crazy (i.e. guided reading). Chris Biffle discusses using something like a sticky note to put on a rule if students did not have to follow it, like if students are allowed to talk during a group activity.

In my room this past year, I didn't have to use the sticky note, because my kiddos knew already when they could talk (group work, certain center activities, etc.) However, this year, since we will start our WBT rules at the same time we are learning all our other classroom routines, I might use the sticky note at the beginning of the year so my kiddos have a visual to remember when they can "break" rules 2 and 3. In addition, I plan on creating an anchor chart when we are learning the rules that lists times when we might break rules 2 and 3 (fire drill, centers, group work, partner work, etc.)

Can I Add Other Rules?
I did not (&will not) add any additional rules in my classroom... it's just so nice having it short, sweet & simple...
I did have a few anchor charts in my classroom for certain routines. Were the kiddos still expected to follow these 5 rules? Yes! But, some routines in the class (as you know) need to be really laid out for the kiddos, very explicit, easy & of course modeled until you couldn't model anymore.

One example of this was cleaning up centers. My kiddos struggled with cleaning up centers efficiently, quietly, quickly and effectively all year, pre and post WBT. So, we did have a routine anchor chart for what the kiddos needed to do to clean up centers. I guess you could say there were some additional "rules" when we cleaned up for centers, but they all in one way or another fit into our WBT rules anyway. See? these rules are so versatile and awesome!

Here's the anchor chart I used for center clean up. Can you categorize them into our WBT rules? My kiddos could!
Hard to see the bottom, it says
4. Get a book and read at your center, wait for Miss James to check in
5. Put work in your mailbox, keep reading

Sort them out...
With no voices: Rule #2 Raise your hand for permission to speak
Clean up center, put bin away in order, put work in a pile: Rule #5 Keep your dear teacher happy
Get a book and read at your center, wait for Miss James to check in, put work in mailbox and keep reading: Rule #3 Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat

Of course you could argue that some of these procedures may fit under different rules, and I would agree with you, but how easy would it be to take a piece of chart paper and make a simple chart with each WBT rule at the top and then have the kiddos sort the procedures as a class... easy peasy!

Wrap it Up!
Okay, I think that will do it for WBT rules for today. I hope you learned a little something & are thinking about becoming a whole brainer (or maybe you already are a whole brainer, and LOVE reading about other WBT classrooms! I know I do!)

Happy Whole Braining (& Running) =)

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