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Step 1: Ask a question. 

When introducing a new lesson, explain in a one minute lesson the context and significance of the question. Then ask your students to paraphrase what you have just said to each other using Teach Okay.

See the example lesson below on verbs.


Step 2: Answer the question. 

Give a short, kid-friendly answer to the question. The answer should be tied to a gesture.

See the example lesson below on verbs.

Whole Brain Teaching Step 3 Writing

Step 3: Critical Thinking

Expand the answer, finishing with critical thinking tasks.

Start simple and build complexity. Speak for one minute, giving examples, explanations, and/or connections.  Then use the Teach Okay. Use sentence frames to help students build necessary critical thinking skills.

See the example lesson below on verbs.


Step 4: Assess

Quickly assess comprehension using the Quick Test (QT). A QT is a list of True/False statements, easier to harder.

The teacher says, “QT”; students respond, “Cutie!” and cover their eyes. The teacher makes true/false statements. For example, “A noun is a person, place or action word.” If the answer is true, students silently give a thumbs up gesture. If the answer is false, students silently give a thumbs down gesture. QT provides a rapid, clear picture of individual student’s understanding. If 90% of the class pass the test, the teacher should go on to Step 5. If not, the teacher should cycle back to Step 3 above and reteach the concept with new material.

See the example lesson below on verbs.

Whole Brain Teaching Step 5 Writing

Step 5: Writing

The teacher gives students tasks that require they use what they have learned in a critical thinking context. A key component of these tasks often involves writing. Here are some:

  • Employ the concept in each of the sentence types on the Genius Ladder.
  • Write a letter to the aliens on Planet Zork explaining the concept.
  • Write several sentences that compare and contrast the current concept (for example, noun) with previous concepts (verb, adjective, preposition)
  • Use the current concept in as many sentences as possible that also contain the word “because."

In addition students could explain the concept to their neighbor with a collection of Brain Toys.

See the example lesson below on verbs.

Example Five Step Lesson

Step 1: What is a verb? Say to your students, "Today we are going to answer the question, what is a verb? A verb is a part of speech, just like the noun we learned about yesterday. The noun and the verb are partners and work together very closely. There are many other parts of speech, but the noun and the verb are the most important parts. They are like the foundation of a house: in language, everything else is built on and around the noun and verb. Today we will tackle the question, what is a verb?" Next, ask your students to do a full turn, use big gestures, and explain to their neighbor the question that we are going to try and answer in this lesson. Students turn to their partners and paraphrase both the question and the significance of that question, to their partner.
A verb can be active (churn arms) or passive (fold arms).
Give examples of active verbs. Speak for one minute, using Mirror Words or Mirror Variations. After one minute have students teach each other your lesson using Teach Okay. Then come back and add more complexity, teaching for one minute followed by Teach Okay. Increase the level of critical thinking by using sentence frames. Kids insert verbs into sentence frames, completing each frame as many times as possible in one minute. I _____. We _____ and _____. They _____, ______, and _____.
1. All verbs are passive. 2. Some verbs are active. 3. I run. Run is a verb. 4. They walk in the park. "In" is a verb. 5. I fly over the hill. "fly" is a verb. 6. The next sentence has two verbs: We eat and drink. 7. The next sentence has two verbs: Bob runs across the big field. One great trick is to have a seating chart in a clear sheet protector on a clipboard. Use a dry erase marker to make a tally mark next to a student's name for each incorrect answer. You can use this information to reteach as necessary to individual students during step 5.
Write a letter to your Genius Pet describing verbs.

Click HERE to see more five step examples.