Monday, April 25, 2011

Brain Toys- ok maybe just a toy

Saturday I joined in on the webinar. It was wonderful to get some new ideas for involving our students on making conscious choices in speech and writing.

I decided to work on just the question and answer step of the brain toys. Simply get everyone excited and answering in complete sentences. My district is very big on complete sentences especially for ell students; I have ell students in my room. This is a skill I have used all year. My goal was always to get the students to correct the one word answer. While watching the webinar it began feeling like my approach had been backwards. It is easier to set the group up for success than it is to remember to correct the action after the fact. In other words; build the habit instead of trying to break one. Much more positive, I truly believe that the outlook makes all the difference.

I already had a hand gesture for the sentence so we kept it. The big change was that instead of waiting for a one word answer this gesture would be more of a reminder form the beginning.  My gesture is the sign language for sentence (link leads to a video demo). Touch both thumbs and forefingers together then pull your hands apart, like your stretching something.

It seems like a small focus, a minor change to my day. Why not more? I used what they already knew and monitored how we did with it. I noticed a few things today. When I did the gesture some were mirroring me making them aware of the sentences. I heard more complete thoughts in the teach-ok moments, which meant less questioning from the partner. I was not prepared for this, but it makes since. Consider that when they we were answering in complete sentences some students were naturally adding to their answers making their partner work harder to make sure that they covered all the parts I asked them too.

Oh did we give out the smile points. When I heard a student use because, adding to a thought, an example, or a conclusion I made sure to give a smile point. So of course my answers were getting longer and more thought out all day. So when I add more pieces of the brain toys they already have an idea because we have used it in class.

The webinar was fabulous. Please check out the information for next Saturday at: I plan on being there come see the power of toys for the brain.

Love, Luck, and Lollipops


  1. Wonderful post! It is so much better if we teach the habit we want instead of breaking a bad habit. Thanks for the sign language resource! is another great ASL site

  2. Thanks, I'm enjoying this whole blogging experience.

  3. Thank you for posting your gesture for "sentence". I'll have to try that!

    The webinar was eye opening to me. I expect the students to be able to answer questions by writing a complete sentence. (And they always have trouble) It only make sense to develop this orally first!

  4. Allisong - WBT teachers have turned me on to Nancy Fetzer who is a literacy expert and from what I gather, her bit THING for writing is developing the sentence orally before putting it on to paper. So smart! =)

  5. they need that practice. I'll check Nancy out thanks :)