Bringing Joy back to class

"The blank page is perfect for an infinite number of activities! Drawing, lists, math operations and problems, brainstorming. . . the list is endless." 


2020-2021 A.K.A. what is even going on?

The 2020-2021 school year was a challenge. Implementing in-class learning safely due to Covid meant that our students were taught in desks, facing forward, with minimal movement around the classroom and no flexibility in seating arrangements or table partners. Group work was not allowed. It was a strict, traditional way of teaching that was not in my preferred toolbox of instruction, but it was necessary for the safety of students and staff. This year, because we have been able to loosen some of the restrictions in school, it feels more “normal” and I have taken this opportunity to reimplement and enjoy more of the non-traditional strategies that I use, as well as to introduce some new strategies in my classroom. I have made it a personal and professional goal to return to a more joyful, energetic, engaging practice.


What do you want to be when you grow up? Spirit Day

Students safe in class


What I know for sure

Making class activities as engaging and interesting as possible increases student participation and learning. This year, after reading Peter Liljedahl’s amazing book, The Thinking Classroom, I was eager to incorporate the strategies in my Grade Five classroom. My goal was to give students the opportunity to develop their critical and creative thinking and problem-solving skills as well as to build their confidence as self-directed learners and collaborators. The use of vnps and random groupings to work in teams has proven to be an excellent way to increase engagement, participation, and to foster a safe environment to work with others.


Enter Wipebook

Although my classroom has two large whiteboards to use, this is clearly not enough to create the kind of environment that I needed to facilitate this strategy. Enter the Wipebook Flipchart. With 10 separate reusable charts, there are enough to be spread around the classroom to enable the students to work comfortably on a vertical non-permanent surface at different levels and in different spaces. The Wipebooks are a perfect size, have an excellent surface for all types of dry-erase markers, and clean up with no left-over residue, and also, be environmentally friendly. We have successfully used both brushes and dry-erase board spray to make the Wipebooks look like new!


Two-Sided Flexibility

With the Wipebook’s double-sided charts, there is flexibility for assignments that need more of an ‘outline’ in which case the grid side is excellent. One of our favorite uses for the grids on Wipebook flip chart is to make our class seating plans. We work collaboratively and then vote on classroom design. The grids are also great for graphing, demonstrating and practicing math strategies, such as lining up numbers when using the traditional algorithm for long division. 


Creating our seating plan:

Creating our sitting plan
Sitting class


The blank page is perfect for an infinite number of activities! Drawing, lists, math operations and problems, brainstorming. . . the list is endless.  


Discussing the problem, “How many ways can you make $1 with only quarters, dimes, and nickels?

Discussing the problem
Discussing the problem



Solving the following problem: “I bought a DVD for $10, then sold it for $20. Then I bought it back for $30 and then resold it for $40. How much money did I make or lose?”


Solving the problem


Because of the simple design of Wipebook Flipchart. I also integrate them into bulletin board spaces where I do small group instruction and mini-lessons during both math and literacy times.


Space for Small Group Instruction/Practice

Wipebook Flipcharts in class


Wipebook Flipcharts are used on a daily basis in our classroom. The flexibility that it gives me in planning activities with different groups of students, the collaborative environment that it supports, and the gallery-walk options that we do to share our work have all been successful with these additional vertical non-permanent surfaces. 


Bringing movement and joy to 2021-2022

The 2020-2021 school year was hard. This 2021-2022 school year also has its challenges. With the ability to return to more flexible classrooms, movement, and collaborative learning approaches, we are able to incorporate more collaborative, joyful, engaging lessons and activities once again. This year is still not “normal” I don’t even know what this means, anymore. What I do know is that I will continue to use vertical non-permanent surfaces and our eco-friendly brand, Wipebook, will be a big part of that.  


Trina Crawford, Grade Six Teacher in Saskatchewan, Canada


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