The following is a guest post written by Katie Jarvis. She has been teaching art for nine years and currently teaches at Cameron Elementary in Alexandria, Virginia.
At the beginning of every year, art teacher’s everywhere make up a “rules poster” to review with students on the first day of classes. Throughout the year I would find that the students would claim to forget or not know the rules. While researching art room rules last year I came across a teacher on Youtube, Chris Biffle, a college professor who taught what he called Whole Brain Teaching.
How does it work? At the beginning of every class the students and I recite the art room rules. The rules have hand motions and each week we change the style in which we say them- squeaky voice, deep voice, sad, happy, fast, cowboy, etc. The kids love it! In fact if I try to skip over doing the rules even my 6th graders complain.
I created a video to illustrate how I teach these rules on the first day of art. Trouble viewing video below? Click here.
There is also a scoreboard to help with classroom management. I mark “smiley faces” and “sad faces” on the board as the class earns them (see monkeys in image on left). When the class earns a smile they get to cheer. When the class earns a sad face everyone groans. The points are tallied at the end of each class and a gold paintbrush is awarded for more smiles than frowns, a silver paintbrush for an equal number of smiles and frowns, or no brush for more frowns than smiles. Four paintbrushes earn the class a free art day. Each silver brush is worth 1/2 a gold brush (2 silvers = 1 gold)
The most effective tool I’ve learned from Whole Brain Teaching is getting the students attention. When I say “Class” they say “Yes!” I vary the way I say class to keep them on their toes. For example if I say “Classsity, Class” they respond “Yessity, yes!”
Whole Brain Teaching involves lots of hand gestures and verbal responses from students to keep them engaged and entertained. Using WBT creates a “peaceful classroom full of orderly fun”. Students have more fun following my rules, since I switched to Whole Brain Teaching, rather than ignoring them.