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LSUS Hosts Whole Brain Teaching Conference

July 28, 2016

LSU Shreveport was honored to host the Whole Brain Teaching Conference (WBT), one of the world's most popular instructional systems, free for teachers.

An astounding number of over 700 teachers signed up, with over 1,000 on a waiting list, to attend the Whole Brain Conference in Shreveport, Louisiana. This conference was a collaborative effort of the LSUS School of Education and the Caddo and Bossier Parish School Districts.

Coordinator of the event, Jere Hatcher, and faculty and staff of LSUS Continuing Education, the University Center, Food Services and the School of Education worked tirelessly to organize, set up, and lead the huge conference.

Whole Brain Teachers of America started in 1999 as a way to reform the way education is taught and how students can be welcomed into a positive and interesting learning environment. Two Southern California teachers, Chris Biffle and Chris Rekstad, realized the need for a structured learning experience to help those students who lack discipline and problem solving skills to succeed in school.

Used in 200 countries with 80,000 Facebook likes and 7,000,000 YouTube views, WBT's goal is to create peaceful classrooms full of orderly fun.

Andre Deshotel, the Southern Region Director of WBT and seventh grade teacher at Judice Middle School in Lafayette Parish, said the new approach to teaching that Whole Brain offers completely changed the social, academic, and behavioral elements with his students.

"I have taught for seven years, but in my third year I found out about WBT via YouTube," Deshotel said. "There were several videos that I observed and I was like ‘Oh, this looks good, I'm going all in.' During my first two years of teaching I began thinking ‘Wow, how am I going to make this a career?' You go through your college education program and you come out thinking you're prepared and it's a real hard reality to find out that this is a struggle. So, I was in a desperate search to find something that would really change things up and when I went on that YouTube channel one day that's where it started."

The Whole Brain Teaching technique can be adapted to teach and motivate students in Kindergarten, middle school, high school, college, and beyond, although slight tweaking of materials and techniques are necessary depending on the grade level being taught. For middle school students, the WBT games involved in learning work efficiently to engross students in their education.

"One of the first things that really intrigued me when I was researching WBT for the first time is something called the Score Board game," Deshotel said. "In this game, you're playing with your students to motivate them and drive their academic and behavioral skills in a way that's not talking down to them. It's not your go-to reaction that may be out of anger, it's simply redirecting on a little pie chart the positive things and the negative things without scolding."

Deshotel said the great thing about Whole Brain Teaching is the drive to engage the student's entire brain in the learning experience.

"In traditional education we're used to sitting back and just tapping into a small area of the brain and it's the least efficient way to learn because it's just activating your hearing," Deshotel said. "In WBT we're tapping into the visual cortex, motor cortex, and their emotional sensor to get all of their brain parts engaged. The purpose of that is the more brain areas involved in learning, the more retention our students will have and it really helps to decrease behavioral situations. When the whole brain is involved in learning, there's very little mental space left over to think up challenging behaviors. WBT is all about gamifying the environment, and kids love games, and there is a lot of movement involved which gets their blood and oxygen flowing and helps the students to retain that information."

To learn more about Whole Brain Teaching, please visit the WBT website.

Top: A Whole Brain Teaching break-out session in the Science Lecture Auditorium led by Chris Biffle, Founder of WBT.
Bottom: Andre Deshotel teaching a break-out session in Bronson Hall.

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