Upgrading a Classroom by Using Wipebook

Pictured is this blogs author, Mrs. MacLeod

How do you respond when colleagues invite you to join a summer book club and jump into a new way of delivering curriculum? WITH BOTH FEET!!! As part of a core group of four educators in a unique school with 20 classrooms consisting of ALL grade 5 or 6 students, we had the perfect opportunity to explore how we could Build Thinking Classrooms together, share and reflect during PLC time built into our days and plan our action steps. Without the use of WipeBooks to utilize our windows as additional VNPS spaces, we would have been cramped or hard pressed to have the ten surfaces required, based on Peter Lilhejdahl’s research.


A Thinking Classroom to Build Community

A Thinking Classroom involves the use of vertical non-permanent surfaces where groups consisting of 2 or 3 members collaborate, share ideas, make mistakes, challenge the thinking of peers and develop common understandings. We began the year with several non-curricular tasks including; Numbers 1-100, Ice Cream Problem and the Twelve Dots problem. Students learned about each other, how to collaborate, listen, effectively communicate, respectfully agree/disagree and how much fun it is to work together standing and sharing at a vertical surface. There's a sense of magic around the use of VNPS as no matter what the task assigned to students, so long as it's on a whiteboard they're overjoyed! So by using these VNPS in non-curricular tasks the classroom is able to engage within their small groups and bond in various ways. Pairing this with frequently randomizing groups to allow the students to interact with new peers and the class starts to grow into a learning community.


Shown is the students work on an 'ice cream problem"


Supporting Universal Design for Learning

The universal design for learning guidelines are made to make both teaching and learning easier for everyone involved. The UDL guidelines focus on three points of the teaching & learning experience, engagement, representation and, action and expression. The most resinating tip offered by UDL is the importance of giving  content that offers an entry point for all students. Content should be open enough that there are multiple ways to solve and provides EVERY student a starting point. As well as the opportunity to push and build their own personal understanding. Using the flipcharts as a space to record thinking, expand and extend problems and use a variety of ways to represent understanding has encouraged and supported engagement of ALL students, regardless of special programming and/or diagnosis. Many students have realized through the use of the VNPS that they do their best thinking as part of a small group, gallery walks help them when they get stuck, and thinking while standing can be more beneficial than completing tasks while sitting. 


Students display their Menu they've created for a gallery walk


The addition of Wipebook Flipcharts into my classroom has been such an enjoyable experience for myself and the students. Being able to incorporate VNPS easily into exercises allows for a more engaged classroom and the experience of using the VNPS with their peers has blossomed an amazing community.


Mrs. MacLeod, Rocky Lake Elementary, Halifax Regional Centre for Education


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