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Brain Builders

Even though I teach a self-contained gifted class, I have a wide range of abilities in my room. I'm sure that most of you do as well. Besides a wide range of abilities, I have students who finish things at very different times. One of the ways I've found to be sure that the fast finishers are using their extra time wisely (boy, that's teacher-talk, huh?) is through this little genius idea - The Brain Builders Club.

One bulletin board in my room is dedicated to holding task cards on many different subjects. Some I've found through internet searches and some I created myself. Each set of 30 cards has the answers on the back to make them self-checking.



If a student has extra time, they can choose a set of cards to study. Once they feel confident enough, a classmate who is also finished can give them the Brain Builders Test. Then the students check it together. If the student gets all of the questions correct they earn a Brain Bead!



My cabinet doors are covered with these command hooks. Each student's number is on one of the tags from the hook and hanging from it is a ball-chain keychain. Each time the student earns a Brain Bead I attach it for them. Each five beads earns a special reward of their choice, for example: lunch with me, a homework pass, sit by a friend pass, no morning work, free computer time, etc. It has been a very motivating activity for my students. It was actually a little too motivating. I had students who were trying to take 3 or 4 tests a day! Now we have a limit. They can study one set of cards or take one test per day. They are taking it much more seriously this way. Although for me it offers my self-motivated students a way learn new things I may not have taught yet, it's also great to review skills they should already have mastered. I can see this also being very beneficial for students who need remediation as well.

At the end of the year, students will get to take home their brain bead keychain to hang on their backpack or just keep as a little second grade souvenir. 

The little scientist on the board was made on my Cricut using the Everyday Paper Dolls cartridge - is he cute or what? I really need to use that thing more! If you'd like a copy of the Brain Builders Test sheet and the directions I have on the board, click {HERE}. In the picture below you can see the Brain Bead jar, the test form and the sticky letters I used on my cabinet (from Dollar Tree of course!).
Good luck motivating your little Braniacs!
P.S. See part two complete with a freebie {HERE}
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19 comments:

  1. What a fantastic idea!!!I have been looking for things for my fast finishers to do as well!!!Love it!

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  2. You sure are one creative teacher! I have no doubt the kids love this!

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  3. Looks like a great idea! Could you post some examples of the task cards? Thank you!

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  4. Hdaniels - I've been getting lots of email requests for that. I'll put together a post soon, but in the meantime here are links to some of the ones I have listed on tpt, just so you can get an idea. The previews are pretty detailed, so you can even see what they're like to make your own.

    Science/states of mater: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/States-of-Matter-task-cards
    Much/Many: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Much-or-Many-Literacyword-work-center
    Rounding/Estimating: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Rounding-and-Estimating-Center
    Measurement: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Measurement-True-or-False-Task-CardsCenter

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  5. I'm excited about seeing the cards!! My scholars are going to LOVE this...and so am I!! :)

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  6. I love this idea! It encourages them to keep learning and studying, during their free time, and rewards them with such positive things!

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  7. You are awesome, thanks for answering my post!

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  8. I have been using your task cards for some time now. I do have a questions about the answer key. Do you grade their tests daily or weekly? I felt like I was checking one every minute. How do you organize your answer keys? I really like the test idea.
    I had my students use mini- notebook spirals to put their answers in. I also had a red and a green box. Red was for the finished tests and of course the green was for the kids still working on their task cards.

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  9. Love the idea! How could I use it with my Kinders?

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  10. Thanks for the great idea. It will be a super way to follow up on a study my Grade 5/6 class has been doing on Brain Based Learning. I will make grade appropriate task cards and can forward copies to add to your site for older grade if you like.

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  11. Gonna be looking through my beads for those that say, "OT." Karen

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  12. I love this idea. There are few things more annoying than hearing the constant, "Ms. T, I'm DOONNNEEE!!!!!!" However, I teach 4 and 5 year olds. Any ideas on how to do something like this for the little ones?

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  13. This seems like a really good way to keep students learning!

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  14. This seems like a really good way to keep students learning!

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  15. What a fantastic blog post.. Amazing...

    Builders

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  16. I have a student with high behavior needs and a cognitive disability. I think this idea will be really helpful in helping her to be more attentive to her tasks. I can't wait to try it!

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  17. Thank you for these darling ideas! Plus, I am so glad you mentioned the "command hooks." I had never heard of these. I teach Sunday school and don't have a bulletin board. I have a big closet door that I use, but I'm afraid of damaging the finish on it. It is so helpful to know about these! Thank you again.

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  18. I love this idea! I instantly began thinking about how I can accommodate it to my classroom environment. Thanks for sharing!

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