Friday, August 1, 2014

Teacher vs. Students: Who Will Reign Victorious?

Do you ever feel that way?  It's you against ALL of them. How can you reign them in and teach what you need to teach?  If you are like me, you've tried several strategies to motivate students to listen, participate, and follow your rules. Many of the strategies I have tried (writing names on the board, giving warnings, gem jars, etc.) did not work for everyone, and their effect over time wore off. 

With whole brain teaching, you have a cheap, and easy interactive game to monitor student behavior that can constantly evolve to keeping hooking your students in.  Your students want to win and will do whatever it takes to beat the teacher. It brings out the competitive side of them.  What they don't know is that whether you, as the teacher, win or lose on the scoreboard, you win because you are able to teach instead of monitor behavior.

SCOREBOARD: So, here is how it works.  On your whiteboard, or another place that is convenient for you, just write "teacher" on one side and "students" on the other, now make a line.  You have created a scoreboard!  Wow, wasn't that easy!?

Whenever students are doing a great job, you mark a point for the students.  Chris Biffle, of whole brain teaching, recommends that they get a one second celebration ("Oh Yeah!") whenever they earn a point. When they are not doing a great job, you mark a point for the teacher.  They then can make a one second mighty groan.  You see, they still get to interact whether it is a positive or negative point. This contributes to their buy in to the game.

The secret, though, to truly keeping the students engaged in this activity is the Rule of 3.  Keep the score within three points no matter what.  You do not have to mark negative for every negative thing that happens, just as you do not have to mark positive for every positive.  Mark when it is convenient for you, but make sure to stick with it!  Lastly, what are they playing for?  Why would they care if they win?  Give them a minute free time for every point they beat you by, or one less problem, or one less page to read.  In my classroom, I'm giving them one less sentence for their summaries.

I don't want to overwhelm you with this strategy, so I'll post again tomorrow about how you can use this strategy to increase speed in your classroom, reinforce the behavior that you want, and how, once your students get the hang of the scoreboard, you can vary the game to keep the interest of your students!

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