Thursday, September 20, 2012

The CRAZY Professor Game

I'm SICK of doing partner reading where one student blandly reads, while the other barely tries to not fall asleep.  I'm SICK  of having students read the SAME story a thousand times without being able to recall a single event.  If your also SICK of a lack of reading comprehension in your students, I've got the medicine to make it ALL BETTER..

Today I introduced The Crazy Professor Reading Game to my class.  The buy- in was this easy... "Do you want to learn how to partner read the WBT way?"  By now my students recognize that ANYTHING the WBT way, is better than any way they've experienced before. I had them BEGGING  me to learn it.

You begin by having students paired out in 1's and 2's. As Coach B. suggested in the webcasts on ,  I paired "high" achieving students with "middle" achieving students, and "low" students with "middle" students.  This REALLY alleviates the problem of  lower students feeling too intimidated by working with really high level students, and high students feeling frustrated and bored with students who are too far from their working level.  I find it best to watch this AMAZING video by Chris Rekstad demonstrating with his 4th grade class, before I describe how it worked successfully in my 5th grade class.  It's worth watching the entire 10 minutes, believe me!

When I stumbled upon this video over our 4 day weekend , I KNEW I had to try it ASAP. Let me tell you, I literally was walking around the classroom unable to hide my joy as I caught a glimpse of Teacher Heaven.  I downloaded the FREE e-book from the Whole Brain Teaching website and used the one page guidline included, as I explained the steps in different parts.  Like the video, I used parts 1-3 and of course #8!  I, Ms. Dramatic, modeled each step with an enthusiastic student, before I had them do it in pairs.  Have them switch every 30 seconds to a minute.  If you don't, you will find that the energy begins to get stale and the enthusiasm level goes down.

PART 1: Dramatic Reading
Partner 1 reads slowly and VERY dramatically, while Partner 2 comes up with gestures that go along with the story.  I told my #2's to pretend they were acting out what was happening in the story.  For some reason that seemed to click more.  As always, some students were super energetic, while some were visibly pained.  As I began to walk around and praise students extra loudly, I instantly had students competing to get my attention with BIG gestures and overly expressive reading.  I made it my goal to at some point compliment something each group was doing.  This did wonders! 

PART 2: Paraphrasing
Partner 1 tells the story in their own words, while gesturing.  I told them they couldn't read any words from the book but could use the pictures as a guideline if they got stuck.  Partner 2 mirrors the gestures of the other partner, while  LISTENING silently.  This was a jaw dropping experience for me.  The students who typically have the WORST comprehension, were the ones recalling the most information. The BEST group was one of my LOWEST partner combinations.  I praised them till their gestures (and heads) couldn't get any bigger!

PART 3: Q and A
This part was the most difficult for my students.  Partner A comes up with questions about the story, and asks them dramatically using gestures, while Partner 2 answers them equally dramatic and with animated gestures. At the end a student told me, "Now we know how hard it is for you to ask us questions!"  Gotta love teacher appreciation!

This is the most HIGH ENERGY part of the game. Partner 1 is the CRAZY professor and Partner 2 is the student.  Using gestures and any available props, the "professor" summarizes the story while asking their partner to mirror them, give a ten finger woo, etc. just like we WBT teachers do.  When they switch, Partner 2 becomes the eager student, saying things such as "tell me more, tell me more!"(just like you see in the video).  This part was SO AMUSING.  While watching, I seemed to hear alot of impressions of my own sayings and facial expressions!

Part 4, "Making Connections", I ommitted because it is a more difficult skill and this is something I would want to practice modeling as a part of our regular class discussion.  Again with gestures and a dramatic voice, students have to connect events in the story with things from their own life.  As you progress through the year, they will connect to other material learned during the year. Parts 5-7 deal with silent reading as opposed to shared reading.

 If you are skeptical of the benefits of The Crazy Professor, here are the reasons why it WILL improve comprehension, even after doing it the first time:
  • Using gestures and reading words expressively activates the WHOLE brain, not just isolated parts. This means memory is stored in different areas of the brain which equals MORE COMPREHENSION AND RECOLLECTION!
  • Gestures bring in a kinesthetic connection!  Remember not all learners learn the same way!
  • This game brings the words to life and makes it FUN, so that they are remembered!
  • Learning happens when we connect old information to new information!

Good luck, and please share how you use The Crazy Professor Game in your own room!  If you are new to WBT, I suggest having the Core Four:  Class-Yes, Mirrors, Teach-Okay and Scoreboard, down packed before approaching something like this.  I will be posting on this topic very soon!  In the meantime, follow me by email and check out the WBT In Action gadget on the right of the page!  It takes you to the Whole Brain Teaching channel on YouTube!  You'll thank me later!

Ms. Cruz

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