This Video Changed the Way I Teach Writing

 Gestures will change the way you teach.

 These second grade teachers (whom I have never met) are practicing a Whole Brain Teaching technique called Air Punctuation.  It is one part of something called "Oral Writing."  Chris Biffle explains this much better than I can on his Whole Brain Teaching website.  To learn more, you will need to sign in and then watch Professional Development Video #502. (Watch out, it's an hour long!)

These teachers cover capitals, commas, periods, exclamation marks, quotes, question marks, and "for example".  This is just the beginning!  There are also gestures for conjunctions, complete sentences, "adder" sentences and "concluders," which teach students to talk in paragraphs.

My all time favorite gesture, however, (that is not in the video) is the because clapper.  One of the shifts in the Common Core Standards is a focus on text based evidence.  When a student answers a question, have them say "because," and clap their hands once.  This indicates that they will be following up with evidence.  (For example: "I know it is time for lunch because the clock says 11:45" or "I think Chrysanthemum feels sad because the author says she wilted on this page.")

Students need to practice using gestures.  Not just a few times.  Hundreds of times!  The student who goes to the front of the class each morning to say the date, and what's for lunch?  Have him use gestures while he talks.  And have the rest of the class silently mirror his gestures.  This means they're paying attention!  Use gestures during small groups.  Use them whole class.  Give lavish praise to students who remember them.  Take advantage of the fact that most kiddos love to talk!

The next step is to have students write what they've said.  You will be amazed.  They will remember the comma (zoop), and period  (errrr).  They will capitalize the first word of sentences, and remember to use question marks.  Well, let's be honest.  They won't remember every time.  But you can remind them with a silent gesture and a smile.  How great is that?

And there you have it.  My teaching is forever changed, and I'm having so much fun!

Happy Teaching with Gestures,


  1. I wish they used commas before quotation marks after all that!

  2. Ha! I had the exact same thought! But I still think they're awesome... and we can fix that when we teach.

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  16. Ha! I had the exact same thought! But I still think they're awesome... and we can fix that when we teach.