WBT: Teach-Okay and Switch + My New Classroom Addition

Let's start with the REALLY important stuff....

I fell in love with this little sofa the first time I saw it at Hobby Lobby.  I thought it was perfect for me red and turquoise classroom.  Can you imagine curling up and reading on this?  I used to have a sofa in my classroom and love the "homey" feel of it.  But, it was $500.  Waayyyyy too much for the clasroom.  Well, I just happened to be in Hobby Lobby today and it was 66% off!!  Holla!  It is now in my garage.  They have a super comfy chair that is similar to it, too.  It fit my tush perfectly.  I think I need it, too, but I'm going to wait and see if it gets marked down anymore.  It was the same price as the sofa. :(

Alright, now let's move on to the "other" important stuff.  My last WBT post focused on Class/Yes and Hands & Eyes.  Now, let's take a look at what you do with them once you have their attention! :)

After getting their attention, you TEACH.  But, not in the way that most of us teach.  The key to teaching with WBT is to CHUNK - or "mini" chunk.  We, as teachers, talk WAY too long!!!  We need to break down our lessons into mini-chunks (30 seconds to 1 minute) and then have the students do the teaching!!

Remember that saying, "Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn."

This is where my absolute favorite WBT component comes into play...
{Click the image above to download "The Big 7 Signs" to share with your staff}
This is the way Teach-Okay works.  {If you don't want to read my ramblings, scroll on down for a great video that explains it to you!}

The teacher teaches a "mini-chunk" (just a couple of points) using hand gestures.  Using hand gestures worked SO well for me last year...I tried to put a gesture with every single concept and it really seemed to help my students!  Then the teacher claps twice and says "TEACH".  The students then clap twice and say "OKAY".  They turn to a partner and teach the concept to their partner.   When the teacher feels they've had enough time to teach, the teacher then says, Switch and the students "switch" roles.
{Click the image above to download "The Big 7 Signs" to share with your staff}

WBT recommends that teachers assign students roles (student 1 and 2, or peanut butter and jelly) so that the teacher can say "peanut butters teach."  However, I did not do that this year.  I think that would work beautifully if your students are typically at their desks during your instruction and you partnered them with someone sitting next to them.  In my classroom, students are typically seated on the carpet for instruction so they are not in assigned seats.  If I assigned them a partner, it would take them too long to find that person.  Teach-Okay should be a very quick process.

Instead, I taught my students that when I said "TEACH" they were to turn around and partner with the person closest to them.  At some points in the year, I had an odd number of students and in that case, I instructed them that if they saw the person left without a partner near them, they should turn and pull them in (so there would be one set of three).  It sounds like this may be chaos, but it worked BEAUTIFULLY all year long.  Of course, we practiced and practiced at first to see how quickly they could get partnered up.  If they did it super quickly and everyone had partners, they earned a point on the scoreboard (more on that later) and if it took them too long or people were left without partners, I earned a point on the scoreboard.  It only took one day of practicing and they had it for the whole entire year!

I fell in LOVE with Teach-Okay.  How had I not thought of this before?  I mean, I did have my students "turn and talk" in the past, but teach-okay took it to a whole new level.  After teaching a little chunk, I could listen and observe (because students should be teaching with those same gestures that I used to help them remember key words and concepts) to make sure students understood concepts.  If they did, I would move on to the next set of small points.  If not, I could reteach the concepts right then and there!

Why does Teach-Okay work so well?  Students are involved.  They are not just listening.  They are hearing, seeing, saying, and doing!  Plus, they are enjoying learning - all components of the brain are involved, which makes learning so much more powerful!  And, SWITCH ensures that every single student is actively learning.  Those students who like to do all the talking are forced to listen and the students who would prefer to sit back and listen are required to instruct.  This technique gives every student the opportunity to be engaged in speaking and listening in the classroom.

A few small tips I learned from this summer's conference that I plan to implement with Teach-Okay next year:

* Have the student that is teaching STAND.  That way the teacher can easily see who is doing the teaching and watch their gestures for comprehension. 

* Have students HIGH-FIVE each other when the "switch" command is given, as a cue to switch roles.

* Have students reach up in the air and pull an imaginary {light}switch when the "switch" command is given to prompt their brains to switch roles.

Video Explaining Teach-Okay in detail: {sorry my video embedding is not working on this computer}


This video shows the Teach-Okay technique (and others) working in this same teacher's 3rd grade class:


And, of course, you can see MY FAVORITE WBT Teacher (1st grade) put this in action here:


Finally, don't forget to follow my blog at Bloglovin' and then enter my GIVEAWAY!


  1. I'm not sure who will love the couch more, you or your kids! It would be nice to be able to use it for teaching power naps (sounds good doesn't it)!

    For the Love of First Grade

  2. Hahaha! I do love a good nap! It might be possible to find me there after school some days! :)

  3. I'm really interested in WBT, but I'm not sure where to begin. There's a lot of information out there, as you probably are aware. Anyway. Can you give me a starting point? Thanks!

    First Grade with Ms. Dawley

    1. Oh, and I also wanted to say how much I love, love, LOVE that couch!! I wonder how difficult it would be to make... Something I will consider this summer. ;)

    2. I would definitely start with "The Big 7"...the classroom management pieces. They are very easy to implement. Last year was my first year and I implemented those and Super Speed Math and Phonics. That was very realistic!

      Visit their website and click on the "1st Steps Tab" at the top for an overview of The Big 7 - http://www.wholebrainteaching.com/

      You can also register on their site and get access to ALL of their materials - which are ALL FREE!!

      I watched a lot of YouTube videos last summer...just search for Whole Brain Teaching and tons of videos can be found!

      If you make a couch, you MUST share it with us! I will be hiring you to make me some cute stuff! :)

    3. I right there with you, Carrie -- at least on wanting to do WBT, not sure about the couch, haha.

      Checking out the link now and excited to see what's out there.

    4. Thanks for the website, Amanda! I'll be digging into that one this summer as well as all of my other things that I want to do. :) I'm sort of excited about it - lame, huh? HAHA!!

      And I'll definitely share if I decide to make a couch. I have spent the last four months building a dining room set. Yeah. I really came home one day with about $100 worth of 2x4s and screws because I wanted a new table. Lol. It actually turned out quite nice - I'll go ahead and toot my own horn on that one. ;) I'll put a photo of it on my next blog post. But if I can make an entire dining room set, surely I can do a couch. :)

  4. I love the way you've described this and provided some tips. I've seen this strategy before, but you've made it easy to understand. Thanks!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Thanks, Tammy! Teach/Okay is definitely my favorite component...such a valuable assessment piece for me! :)

    2. I forgot to ask you about how you solved the problem of who teaches first. When my kids are sitting in the floor, they don't sit in the same spots every day so numbering them wouldn't be helpful.

  5. Thanks for sharing what you learned at the conference! My district is pretty behind on offering PD opportunities out of town (as in they don't!), so this is very helpful. Thanks again!

    Teaching in the Tongass

    1. I hate to hear that! :( Our district doesn't really "offer" any for us either, but we decided to approach our principal about this, especially since WBT conferences are always FREE!! He was very supportive once he found that out! :)

  6. I LOVE the couch. I LOVE the "teach-ok." And I LOVE all your ideas!!!! Thank you for sharing them. My WBT book is en route, and I can't wait to read it!

    Angela :)
    Hippo Hooray for Second Grade!

    1. Awww...thanks, Angela! Let me know how the book is! I don't even have that yet. :)

  7. Thank you for sharing all of these great ideas with WBT. I am currently reading the book and want to implement it into my classroom this year. All the videos and your great insights are so helpful! :)

    Adventures in Room 204

  8. LOVE your new couch! I would have totally bought that too! :)

    I agree, sometimes we talk way to much and forget that it's a mini-lesson! I love this Teach/Okay idea! Very interesting, I'd like to learn more about it and all the other components!


  9. That couch is to die for! I love it!! I also love this post. I used teach-OK last year and really, really liked it; however, after reading this, I feel as though I clearly did not use it to its fullest potential! I am taking notes and adding them to my notebook for next year. Thanks again!!

    Primarily Speaking

  10. I am in LOVE with that couch. I have seen it a hundred times & just wish I had somewhere to put it. 66% off?? You are one lucky gal!! Love love :)

    First Grade Fairytales

  11. That couch is fantastic!! I would have nowhere to put it in my classroom but I wish I did!! Thank you for all the WBT stuff! I want to try it next year!!!
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  12. Wow, love that sofa! Your students are going to be so spoiled. Thanks for sharing your tips from the conference. I wish I could've gone it was so close to my home. I follow you on Bloglovin!

    Shepherd's Shining Stars

  13. Love Miss Freundlich's channel! She's amazing! At your conference, did they say which grades WBT is appropriate for? I know Miss Freundlich is 1st grade but I didn't know if the techniques would be appropriate for Kindergarten or not. Thanks!

    P.S. LOVE the sofa! It will be perfect for reading! Here's hoping the chair goes on sale some more too!

    The Polished Teacher

  14. Love, love, love the couch. My class is way too small for a couch :( Can't wait to see pics of your little ones cozying up on it to read.

    Teach on a Limb

  15. alright..there is a WBT conference near me at the end of July and I'm signing up! Did you say to check out you tube too? I am ready to do some summer time PD and figure out how to get this goin - LOVE IT! I checked out the website but teh 1st steps wasn't what I was looking for -- wanting more background and then truly where to start.

  16. I saw that 1st grade teacher last year on pinterest and that's what hooked me!!

  17. Im loving that couch! I wish we had a Hobby Lobby in my area:( It seems like such fun


Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing ideas! I love to read your comments. I like to reply back by email, so make sure you have that option enabled so we can chat! :)

Back to Top