Beta Academy’s primary instructional methods and strategies incorporate Whole Brain Teaching, Hands on Instruction, and Interactive Student Notebooks. Each of these strategies/methods is based on teaching with the brain in mind and has relevant research to support them. Our teachers are carefully trained and supported in each to ensure the methods and strategies are effectively and appropriately implemented in each grade level.
The heartbeat of BA is driven by a passion to connect our scholars with powerful, engaging instruction and learning opportunities. Whole Brain Teaching is an interactive style of instruction in which the teacher presents new information in small parts using clear descriptors along with symbolic hand motions to remember new key terms/vocabulary. Scholars then re-teach the new information to a designated partner using their own words and the teacher-introduced hand motions. During this time the teacher circulates the classroom monitoring the scholars’ understanding and clarifying when necessary. Research suggests that WBT has a powerful impact on standardized test scores for at-risk students.
“In poverty level schools in San Jacinto, California in a district that is 98% free and reduced lunch and 80% Hispanic, students' reading scores in WBT classrooms showed a 12% increase, in three months, over students in non-WBT settings. At San Jacinto Elementary, a team of fourth grade teachers achieved significant results using Whole Brain Teaching with over 120 students. As compared with the previous year, math scores on state tests advanced a remarkable 28%.” (wholebrainteaching.com)
Hands-on learning activities and instruction engage all learners. At-risk students, English Language Learners (ELL's), special needs, and gifted and talented (GT) can all benefit from performing real-life tasks, activities, and experiments. Hands-on learning activities are especially beneficial for ELL's and special needs students who may struggle with understanding complex, abstract ideas. Hands-on learning activities in any content area it promotes inquiry- based learning, and most, if not all students, generally sustain a higher level of interest and enthusiasm for the content. When students work together, and actively engage in a learning task, it fosters authentic conversation thereby providing wonderful opportunities for language development.
Hands-on learning supports language development because students are no longer passively listening to instruction, but rather taking part in pursuing knowledge and understanding for themselves. Perhaps most importantly is it encourages maximum involvement of each student, which assists them in learning important observation, problem-solving and communications skills.
Hands-on learning is not only engaging and enjoyable; it is a rigorous and powerful way to differentiate instruction for a variety of BA’s scholars.
Interactive Student Notebooks are a brain-based, instructional tool which students use to create written records of their daily learning. Beta Academy scholars use their notebooks to take class notes, identify main points, and summarize the lesson in order to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of new content. Scholars are then challenged to move into higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy such as analysis, evaluation, and creation. The final portion of the ISN lesson includes creating a visual or linguistic representation of the content such as: a drawing, chart, poem, jingle, acronym, or mnemonic device. Using an ISN provides ample opportunities to differentiate for different learning styles and ability levels. It also helps activate the right and left sides of the brain, in order to inspire and motivate both right and left-brain-dominant scholars. This instructional tool assists and encourages learners to actively process classroom content, which promotes increased retention of new knowledge and skills.
“The theory of active processing states that in order to learn and retain information in meaningful ways, learners must be actively involved in what they are learning” (Kaufeldt, 2010)
This creative and innovative learning tool is a powerful way to differentiate instruction for BA scholars and provides both a valuable assessment of scholar learning and a resource for scholar study.
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