Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Whole Brain Teaching-Action Research

Sixteen weeks ago I started an Action Research project on Whole Brain Teaching through Walsh University in Ohio. My research was on the effectiveness of the consistent daily use of the Super Improvers Wall. I wanted to know if this would help children grow in their understanding of their learning and lead to more direct effort to improve learning. The idea behind the wall is to acknowledge improvement in all children.  This relates specifically to Carol Zweck's work on Mindsets and encourages children to have a growth mindset. It also relates to recent research on rewards and the need to acknowledge effort rather than intelligence.

The Super Improvers Wall has colour bands up one side and the children's names clearly marked on the chart. The children are given stars for improving. The more they improve, the more stars they receive, and the quicker they progress up the colour levels on the chart. The children also help me find times to reward other children in the class. We are all much more aware of improving. It is interesting to note that no other reward is necessary as the children are so happy to be improving.

The research has led me down some unexpected pathways. Initially the children were unsure of the meaning of the word improve and they were also unsure of their strengths and weaknesses. The children now understand that to improve, means they will get better at something. I now regularly talk about improving with the children. We include weekly goal setting during focus group time. Generally the children are much more aware of their learning and are able to identify things they need to work on. They are in charge of their weekly goals. This is backed by a comment from Glutzenberg that states, "Self direction works better than direction."

The course is now finished and all I have to do is hand in my final Action Research Paper. The reality is that I will continue to work on praising effort and growth in each and every child. I will also continue to use weekly goal review and setting during focus group time. The children love being acknowledged and given stars and progressing up the wall. The children are all aiming for gold, our highest level.

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