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Marlene Villa

on 18 January 2014

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urrent research suggests that the historical approach to learning, right brain and left brain, should be considered.. According to Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stoke of Insight, "Although each of our cerebral hemispheres processes information in uniquely different ways, the two work intimately together when it comes to just about every action we take" (Hermann-Nehdi, 38).

The basis for Whole Brain Teaching, began with with one teacher's problem classroom, led to research and the design of a new way of teaching. "A theoretical background is provided from a constructivist point of view as a rationale for using Whole Brain Teaching in relation to Vygotsky's Social Learning Theory and Wenger's (2006) framework of Community Practice" (Macias & Macias).

6. Traditionally education has focused on right brain activity - the reasoning, rational part of the brain. WBT techniques seek to make connections between this rational part of the brain and the left side of the brain which is concerned with creative activity .

Learning is not a task but an experience. The emphasis on memory and regurgitation in our schools, as opposed to problem solving and critical thinking is a major flaw in the system. The irony is that when students are fully engaged (through whole brain learning) they do not have to be forced to focus, or to memorize, but instead do these easily as part of the natural process of learning. The challenge then is to be able to organize this information so that you can retrieve it and present it efficiently.

We at Foundations For Life believe that our educational system must be revamped in order to address the learning needs of our children. The current learning system is rigid and monolithic. It does not acknowledge that individuals learn differently and at different paces, and that this “one size fits all” philosophy although logical, may itself be the problem. We believe that learning can be done more effectively when the entire person is included in the process.

Therefore, as teachers it is our duty to teach to the whole brain as opposed to the right or left hemisphere. Teaching to the whole brain requires establishing rituals and routines, stimulating emotions and allowing students to become active learners.

As Graham Tyrer puts it, "Using the principles of whole brain learning, everyone is a potential genius". If we as teachers embrace the differences each student brings to the table, while also incorporating fun active lessons into our teaching, there can be no room for failure.

WBT is a pedagogical approach which is based on current research into brain activity and how we learn. WBT uses techniques which activate both hemispheres of the brain - thus it is a "Whole Brain" approach.

"Teaching..should encompass different alternative delivery options (materials, media, and methods)...allowing teachers to become facilitators instead of broadcasters of new information" (Jones, 1979). Whole brain teaching, in the 21st century classroom, incorporates music, dances, singing, chants, and technology based projects. "The goal is to liven up lessons with zany and upbeat actions and sayings while placing a major emphasis on students immediately re-teaching information to their peers".

By all measures our educational system would seem to be a “sick system”, a learning system that focuses on whole brain learning and accelerated techniques is the cure. The goal then is to move away from a banking system of learning to a whole brain learning model, and to create a learner that comprehends his or her own style of learning and is enthused by the idea of continuing to learn throughout their lives.

WBT is very big on rules and has easy ways to get students to comply with them.

works like this: The teacher makes a decision to get the class's attention. To do this the teacher is activating his/her prefrontal cortex by using the decision making function of that part of the brain. The teacher then says "CLASS" and the students respond by saying "YES" in unison. The students must say "YES" in the same tone of voice and in the same way that the teacher says "CLASS" - this is crucial.

"TEACH-OK". Research has shown, not surprisingly really, that students learn best when actively engaged in the teaching process. When students , using energetic gesturing, reteach to their partner what the teacher has just taught them they are activating five parts of the brain important to learning : the visual cortex (seeing gestures), motor cortex (making gestures), Broca's area (verbalizing), Wernickes area (hearing) and the limbic system (giving emotional content).
Steps of the ""TEACH OK" to hopefully make it easier to understand and use.

STEP ONE - Divide your classes into pairs. You will want to group weaker students with

STEP TWO - Micro teach with gestures. This means giving one small bit of information that the students will reteach to each other.
STEP THREE - To recap steps one and two-we have divided the class into pairs and presented a small bit of information .
STEP FOUR - The teacher monitors the groups as the students teach each other.
STEP FIVE - The teacher brings the "TEACH-OK" to a close with a "CLASS-YES"
STEP SIX - The teacher then continues with another bit of information building on the previous bit of information, or if it is time, change activities.

Two other valuable tools which are often used during the presentation of a micro bit of information are the "HANDS AND EYES" and "MIRRORING."
The scoreboard is a central feature of the Whole Brain Teacher' s classroom. It is an integral part of class management when working with younger students and is critical in keeping older students focused.
The "SCOREBOARD" works on the limbic system which is the part of the brain that controls emotional response. It is a powerful tool to keep order and keep things focused.

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