Sunday, July 17, 2011

What about...WBT Brain Toys?

This wonderful list came from Deb Weigel, Co-Director, Whole Brain Teaching  Model Classrooms

The Illustrious Brain Toys

Brain Toys are used to engage the prefrontal, visual, motor and auditory cortex in original thinking, learning’s highest level. The 11 described below add powerful components to reading, math and language development.

1. Air Whiteboard: click to clear screen, pull the screen to any size you want, make invisible diagrams. Good for illustrating the relationship between ideas, creating outlines, anything that can be drawn.
2. Sockless Hand Puppets: great for conversations between opposing points of view: can be used to compare and contrast or in any dialogue situation. Two characters can talk to each other or two different positions can be contrasted.
3. Props: books, pencils, papers, keys, etc. can become problems, ideas, philosophical positions, abstractions, etc.
4. Infinity Sack: Use the Infinity Sack when you need something that can’t be illustrated by a single prop. Pull anything you want out of your Infinity Sack: mountains, cities, people, an ocean, a mouse, a planet of daffodils to use in any explanation ... the prop of all props!
5. Example Popper: Pop examples out of the top of your head to illustrate important points. Always say, “For example, …”
6. Vocab Candy: Pop one into your mouth, say “Yum!” and the next sentence you speak contains a vocabulary word.
7. Two Finger, All Terrain, Action Figures with Anti-Gravity Boots: use them to recreate any sequence of events in a story or a process. Walk your Action Figures on your desk, in the air, up your arm, anywhere. They’re All Terrain! And they hop free of gravity!
8. Because Clapper: Clap one hand on the back of the other, as you say “because” and “build” your position.
9. Compare/Contrast Gloves: Pull on your thinking gloves, check for a tight fit. Lacing your fingers together creates a comparison; bumping your fists is a contrast.
10. Story Gestures: Use your hands to act out a story. "First," (hold up one finger) "the man drove his car to town" (pantomime driving a car), etc. Never use Floppy Gestures … they don’t communicate anything!
11. Combos: Use any combination of the above.

How to Use Brain Toys

1. Levels: Brain Toys provide a year long critical thinking curriculum if you introduce about one a month.
2. Reading comprehension: divide a reading selection into short units, about half a page. Have pairs of students read a unit, use a Brain Toy to explain it to each other and then go on to the next unit.
3. Teach-Okay: Explain complex concepts and then select a Brain Toy that students will use to explain the concept to each other.
4. Mirror: Explain a concept using a Brain Toy as students mirror you. Students then use the same Brain Toy to teach each other or, for a challenge, use a different Brain Toy to teach each other.
5. Switch: When you call Switch, point at a new Brain Toy on the board for students to use as they teach each other.
6. Hands and Eyes: Students watch you using one or more Brain Toys and then imitate you as they teach their neighbor.
7. 360 degree Learning: When we fully understand a topic, we can explain it in multiple ways. Pick any challenging subject, ask students to use four Brain Toys to explain the subject. Then, have them stand in their small group and practice using the Brain Toy to teach each other. Finally, select individuals to present the Brain Toy explanation to the class. This is a good occasion for students to practice at being WBT teachers beginning with "Class" and ending with "Teach!"
8. Math word problems: Give students a list of word problems. Ask them to use one or more Brain Toys to simply explain the problems to each other, without even trying to find a solution. Next, ask them to use Brain Toys to explain the steps in the solution. If the word problem has multiple choice answers (like the state standards tests), ask students to use Brain Toys to prove their answer is correct and that the other answers are incorrect. It is better for students to spend 10 minutes on one problem than racing through 10 problems.

Deb Weigel
Co-Director, WBT Model Classrooms

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