Throughout the school day, how often are your students fully engaged? I mean really, truly focused and on task? Are your students' brains the rainbow brains?
We all want our students to participate, think, take responsibility for their own learning, and be engaged. We want the RAINBOW BRAIN. The question is, "How do we get it?"
I believe incorporating more writing and written response into each lesson is one key to achieving the rainbow brain. (See this post: Writing and the Brain, by neurologist and teacher, Judy Willis) One of my favorite quotes from the article is this: "
When writing is incorporated in learning and assessment, there is increased opportunity to produce the ideal situation for active, attentive learning."
We use lots of great active participation strategies such as "Turn and Talk" (partner talk), thumbs up/thumbs down, call and response activities, etc...But writing is the key to fully engaged, active learning. So here are a few ways I'm using writing (these are aside from my traditional Writing Workshop that takes place each day).
- After a lesson in Social Studies: "Would you want to live during this time period? Jot down your response..."
- Before a math lesson: "How do you know when you should regroup in subtraction?"
- During a science lesson: "List as many vertebrates as you can in the next 42 seconds."
- During vocabulary instruction: "What things make you feel melancholy? Jot them down."
- Grammar: "List as many adjectives that describe yourself as you can think of..."
- After a science lesson: "What are some similarities and differences between endangered and extinct species?"
None of these are especially new or innovative...they're basically questions that you would probably ask orally. But what makes them powerful is that students are engaged in writing--short and long writing that helps build writing fluency, and at the same time really gets students working and thinking...rainbow brains.