Monday, February 20, 2012

Brain Books - Follow Up

Update: Mrs. Poland has put her personal twist on Brain Books! Check out Brainy Matters to see how she plans on using them in her classroom.

Happy President's Day, everyone! I hope you are enjoying your day off! (or if you're like us and are in school for a snow make up day, I hope you're having a wonderful day with your students!)

I don't have anything to post for President's Day, but Misty from
Think, Wonder, & Teach had some great questions concerning my previous post about Brain Books. I replied to her in the comments section, but thought I'd post for everyone else in case you had missed it.

1) Are parents actually reading these and signing them or do they treat them like reading calendars and planners where they may or may not actually be reading/signing?

I'd be naive to say that ALL parents are reading these ALL the time, but I can say with confidence MOST of the parents are reading the BBs. I encourage parents to write notes to me, notes to their kids, etc. so they do read it while they are writing in them.

2) How long did it take you to teach this concept to your students? 

Many students in my class have never done anything like a brain book before so it took a few weeks to get the students to get a handle on what I expected. Even today, I am repeating the verbage from our anchor chart, guiding the students in using the academic vocabulary from our lessons, and reminding them to produce quality writing. 

3) From my understanding the student is summarizing the knowledge gained/lesson. Do you ever allow for reflection in the BB? Meaning - can they state they do not understand something, need further clarification, found it boring as they already knew it, etc... ?
Yes and yes! One of the struggles I am having with the BBs is that students are not generating questions about what they don't understand even though that is a part of our anchor chart. It may come down to explicitly telling my students I want them to write 1 thing they gleaned from the lesson and 1 thing they still don't understand. Maybe questioning needs more explicit instruction?!

4) Are these kept confidential or do you have a student help you check them like with planners?
This is a really good question I hadn't thought of, until now. There's nothing in the BBs that needs to remain confidential, but if a student has a concern or if a parent has written in it, the kids are pretty good about showing me. I will have students help me check signatures and completeness of Brain Books as well. 

I'd love to answer any other questions you guys have about Brain Books, so feel free to leave me a comment. Misty is also going to post about Brain Books with her special spin on it. I can't wait to read it and learn something new. I will link up to it when it goes live.


  1. Replies
    1. Laurie,

      Thanks for the follow! I'm so glad you stumbled upon my little ole blog here. :) I hope you find it useful! I will be checking out your blog soon!

      Have a good one!


  2. Thanks for linking to me! =) I was just popping in to see how you were today. I took out the reading as I use the Book Whisperer method for that, added emoticons (which I use a lot with my kiddos!), and also gave specifics on highlighting assignments. The Book Whisperer suggests gluing pages into the notebook and so I did. This way they will never be lost and a parent can say they never received it. Sneaky, sneaky!

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  3. Hi Josh!!!

    I LOVE finding other 4th grade blogs too! It's fun to share and get ideas from other 4th grade teachers. Thanks so much for your book recommendation! I have added it to my booklist and read the first few pages on Amazon... it sounds like a great book! Looking forward to reading your blog!

    Lessons with Laughter

    1. Hey, Molly!

      Glad you made it over, and thanks for the follow. Have a wonderful Friday!