WBT Writing: Brainies


Verbally practicing composition skills is one of the easiest, most entertaining ways to improve students’ writing. Truth be told, we were inspired by the phonetic composition skills of the great comedian Victor Borge. For example, you begin a lesson on prime numbers and want your class to rehearse the definition, “A prime number can only be divided by one and itself.” As students repeat this definition to each other, they make the capital letter gesture (see images of the gestures above) at the start the sentence and the period gesture at the finish.


Or, you want students to develop their skill with adjectives. On the board is the sentence frame:

The (adjective) girl ran home.

As your class completes the sentence as many times as possible, they use the gestures for capital letter, period and adjective.


A topic sentence frame like the following employs five brainies:  capital letter, because, and, comma and period. Whole Brain Teaching is a great instructional method because _________, __________ and ___________.

Our Brainy Game contains over 35 gestures including:  capital letter, period, exclamation mark, question mark, quotation marks, comma, adjective, preposition, simile/metaphor, compare, contrast, because, and, for example, but, if/then, In conclusion.

1. The teacher selects a random topic from a group of important concepts covered thus far in the school year.
2. Kids have a minute to plan how to use the highest scoring Brainies in an oral essay on the topic.
3. With a four minute time limit, while a video camera records the action, the teacher points at one student after another to Mirror Words and speak a sentence in a Triple Whammy essay on the topic (see slide 77).
4. If students freeze up, they call “Help me!”
5. If a student makes an error, the teacher says “You’re still cool!” The student fixes the error, calls “Help me!” or, as a last resort, the teacher corrects the error.
6. At the end of four minutes, the class watches the instant replay of the game and calculates their score.
7. The class plays again trying to beat their score on the same topic.