Friday, January 1, 2010

Power Teaching

Whole-brain teaching, or as I like to call it because I think it more aptly describes the method, power teaching, is a high-energy level instructional method. Here is Chris Biffle, the creator, to describe it himself.

But does it work with small children? Absolutely.

Power teaching stresses two very important keys of learning: high-energy for maintaining students' attention and gestures to get through to the ever present kinesthetic learner (a part of every student). Everything about power teaching makes it perfect for the students, the knowing when to talk and when to listen, the micro-lessons and 'tell your neighbor' which allow for short bursts of learning coupled with lots of soaking in time as well as the ability to talk about what they're learning and feeling in-control of learning, as opposed to being talked to death by the teacher.

However, despite all of the positives, my first impressions of power teaching were intimidation and of being overwhelmed. It does take a lot of energy to maintain a class in this fashion. The way I speak, I don't think I could handle 20-some voices saying, 'Yes?' every time I addressed them as 'class.' I don't think the gestures (apart from kindergarteners writing P in the air) reflect their meaning well enough; they aren't specific enough for me. And the 'teach-okay' step (the words, not the actions) just seem silly to me.

Power teaching seems to be a wonderfully effective way of teaching, and though it would not work for me, there are a few points I can take away from it to benefit me. The fact that the teacher has the whole class's attention at "Class," or more importantly, "Hands and eyes," is crucial to any classroom. It is not wholly a power teaching trait, but having a key word, phrase, or action to silence the class is essential. Allowing students to discuss with a partner what they've just learned cements the learning, and the short bursts of information is ideal, especially for younger children. And of course, most students learn better with actions and movement. Also, having the students say, "It's cool," when a classmate answers a question incorrectly creates a positive atmosphere in which children aren't afraid of being wrong, although I might use "That's okay," with students in 2nd grade and below.

Whole Brain Teaching--detailed descriptions and instruction of the Whole Brain Teaching instructional methods
Chris Biffle Youtube profile--more videos from the creator