Bush school utilizes whole brain teaching to reach students

Bush School students utilize Full Brain Learning, a method of teaching that incorporates physical actions to help students remember material.

Bush School students utilize Full Brain Learning, a method of teaching that incorporates physical actions to help students remember material. Photo by Katherine Cummins.

A stroll through the hallways of Bush Elementary in Fulton on any given school day may not be as quiet as one would expect for an educational institution. But make no mistake: Despite all the noise — perhaps the sound of 20-plus pairs of hands clapping together to imitate the snapping jaws of a shark, perhaps the voices attached to those hands yelling out the answer to a question in unison, but always, the sound of students having fun — there most definitely is learning going on.

With a growing number of teachers and classrooms joining in each year, Bush School has been trying a new method of instruction over the past several years known as Whole Brain Teaching.

Fifth-grade teachers Tiffany Fitzpatrick and Ashley Miller first came across Whole Brain Teaching and did a training workshop over the summer to learn how to use the interactive method in which teachers assign gestures to concepts to help students remember them.

During a recent science lesson in Fitzpatrick’s classroom, for instance, students were given a series of gestures for the definition of speed. Speed (pumping the arms as if running) is how far (looking into the distance with hands over the eyes) a thing travels (more motions to indicate moving) in a certain period of time (tapping the wrist where a watch would be).

Fitzpatrick repeated the definition and motions several times, the students then mirrored it back to her before turning to a partner or partners and repeating it to one another to “teach” each other the concept.

Every student in the room was up watching, listening and then participating throughout the entire lesson.

According to Fitzpatrick, those three key elements — watching, listening, doing — are what make Whole Brain Teaching effective.

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