Brain Breaks 2.0 – GoNoodle


I have been incorporating brain breaks into my classroom for over 5 years now using my trusty brain break cards. However, last year the Wellness Teacher introduced me to GoNoodle and I am hooked.

If you are a teacher, I probably do not have to tell you about the importance of frequent breaks for learners. But in case you haven’t heard of this new craze, a brain break is simply a break for your brain that incorporates some movement. Although it sounds disruptive, these quick breaks actually increase engagement and stamina in students.The short periods of exercise improve the physical health, mental awareness and educational success of children.

GoNoodle is like youtube for brain breaks. A free account allows you to set up a class and watch videos that vary in length and content. After selecting an avatar, you can make it grow and morph as you accumulate time spent watching videos. Check it out and I know you and your student will be glad you did.

Types of Video

  • indoor recess videos
  • yoga
  • mindfulness
  • guided dance
  • free movement
  • kinesthetic learning
  • calming
  • stretching
  • test readiness
  • zumba

Since it is testing season, I should highlight the video – Take a Breath. My students really enjoy doing this before any test prep activities!


Whole Brain Teaching Explored – Mirrors


The longer we talk, the more students we lose – Chris Biffle

Mirrors Explained

Mirrors is used when introducing new content in a WBT classroom. When the students are mirroring our gestures, it activates their visual and motor cortices, resulting in student engagement!

The teacher calls out “mirror” and the students respond “mirror.” Students then lift their hands up near their ears, ready to mimic the teacher’s gestures. As the teacher teaches the lesson and makes gestures, the students mimic these gestures. In doing so, their motor cortex, the brain’s most reliable memory area, becomes automatically engaged.

Why Use Mirrors?

  • It activates the motor cortex, the portion of the brain with the highest memory retention abilities. In contrast, the Wernick’s area which is activated during speaking and writing, has the lowest memory retention abilities.
  • Our gestures offer students examples of gestures to use when teaching their partners. (more on Teach-Okay in an upcoming post)
  • We can immediately see which students are on-task and those who aren’t
  • It is just plain fun!

3 Kinds of Gestures

Casual: These are hand motions that you would use naturally while

Graphic: We try and match our gestures to exactly what is being said. For example, if you’re talking about writing something , hold an imaginary pen in your hand and write on the other hand.  Tip : Use when you are telling a story or describing a process.

Memory: These type of gestures are linked to core concepts and/or state standards, and the same gesture is repeated each time. Every memory gesture is unique. For example, a memory gesture for multiplication might be holding your arms out in front of you like an X.

Mirror Words 

Teacher says “mirror words” and students respond “mirror words.” As the teacher speaks, the students repeat your words and gestures. By using mirror words, 5 brain activities are now involved: seeing (motor cortex), speaking (Broca’s area), hearing (Wernicke’s area), doing (motor cortex) and feeling (limbic system). Engagement and it’s finest and highest quality!

Tip: To keep Mirror Words and Mirrors straight, I use Mirrors – Zip! for mirroring without words. When I call out “Mirrors – Zip” (and mimic zipping my lips) the students respond “Mirrors – Zip” as they zip their mouths closed to remind them to not speak my words.

Whole Brain Teaching – The First Hour

I start my Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) lessons as soon as I meet me kids in the hallway each year. This way they know how seriously I take our routines and that in a WBT classroom we never waste any time! Of course there is no better way to get this across then to model it right from the start.

We start off with the Class! – Yes! attention grabber. Of course, when they are learning the choral response, they are having fun and reinforcing one of WBT’s core values- kids learn when they are having fun! I then move them quickly to any seat in the classroom, explaining permanent seats will be assigned later, and reinforcing that we will not be wasting any time in class!

Once in the classroom, I introduce Rule #1 – Follow Directions Quickly! Using a series of fun exercises I model this rule and as a class we practice this rule. Once the Class – Yes and Rule Number #1 are taught, the rest of the day breezes by as you use there 2 tools to teach all five rules and the Core Four.

The most exhilarating part of using WBT is watching how quickly the kids pick it up and how excited they are to follow the procedures. Seeing how elated they are to practice it always makes me excited to be able to connect with them so quickly. The first days of school used to drain me entirely, but since using WBT that has changed entirely and each year runs as smoothly as the last.

Just remember, kids want to feel a sense of belonging and need to know specifically what is expected of them in order to be successful. WBT does this for them from the moment you start your first hour with them, and nothing feels more empowering than that, for you or your students. So whether it’s the first hour or school, or your first day back next week, WBT can help transform your class in ways you never thought possible.

Most challenging kids want to be part of the classroom environment; this is why they work so hard, and continuously, to get everyone’s attention. – Chris Biffle

Tip: Download these great PDF cue cards on TPT to help you get through your 1st hour of WBT, and the rest of the day.

First Hour of WBT

WBT Day 1 Continued

Whole Brain Teaching – Mighty, Oh Yeah!

Whole Brain Teaching – Oh Yeah!

Last summer, during one of countless hours on Pinterest, I stumbled upon a link that immediately peaked my interest. It had to do with brain based learning, something I had become increasingly interested in since taking an RTC course on how the brain learns. The link brought me to a site I have now come to love,

I was immediately drawn to this teaching style because it employed so many of the strategies I already embraced in the classroom. It’s use of routines, repetition, gestures, and excitement immediately intrigued me. The more I read about it, and the more videos I watched on Youtube showcasing it, the more I was convinced… this had to be my next project!

Over the remainder of the summer, I did my best to educate myself (meaning of course I hit up Pinterest, countless blogs, and Youtube) to find all things Whole Brain. There were so many exciting things, that I soon became overwhelmed and decided to scale back and focus on a few things at a time. It was then that I decided to start with the Classroom Rules, the infamous Scoreboard, and the Whole Brain 5. With my cue cards in tow (thank you TPT), the first few hours of teaching routines the WBT way was not only a breeze, but an instant success with the students. They were having a blast! This in turn energized and excited me, making my first day back to school a huge success!

The Scoreboard, which is used to shape behavior, quickly made me abandon my former use of a clip system. So much extra work was needed with my clip system, and yet the Scoreboard offered me so much more control as the kids encouraged one and other in order to win a simple 2 minute reward – Did I mention the reward is FREE?

Using WBT was not only exciting for the students, it was also exciting for me. I felt rejuvenated and revived as a teacher entering her 6th year of teaching. I was excited each morning to try new things, and the kids were equally excited to experiment with me. On top of that, they were learning using the techniques and retaining all the information delivered.

I will never forget how excited I felt the first time I saw kids working independently at their seats, using the gestures and definitions they had learned through the WBT techniques to guide them independently in their own work! No further validation was needed for me, as this was proof that it’s learning style delivered.

It is so empowering as a teacher to be able to say one simple word – “Class” and have every student instantly stop and respond, ready to listen to your next words. WBT, I love you and I am not ashamed to say it.

Stay tuned for a whole series on WBT and how it transforms a classroom!