Building Community with VNPS and Random Grouping
"Wipebooks have helped in nurturing a safe community where learners can take risks, problem solve and preserve with their peers together. Creating flexible groupings multiple times a day allows students to work with different peers for each activity."
In September students and educators have many new experiences. New classroom, new teacher, new friendships and possibly a new school. How can we build community? How can we support students with these new transitions? How can we nurture new friendships? These are questions educators ask themselves. They look to build a safe community where learners feel safe, a place where they are valued, appreciated and celebrated for the beautiful gifts they bring. On the first day of school we began using Wipebook Flipcharts along with flexible groupings to start building our learning community. Allowing students to connect in a small group setting on a variety of tasks minimized the pressure of sharing things as a whole class.
Non-Curricular Thinking Tasks
Non-curricular tasks promote critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and inclusivity of all students. Students work together as a team tapping into one another's lived experiences and strengths as individuals and as learners. and working together to investigate, draw pictures and ask questions. Using VNPS allow students to investigate, draw pictures, ask questions and while getting to know their new classmates.
Rich discussions around communication, collaborations, respect, choice and voice evolved naturally during our shared. It was an authentic and inclusive way to begin building our learning community.
As an educator, I quickly realized that I needed to use Wipebook flipcharts for as many non-curricular and curricular tasks as possible. Students were up and moving, communicating with their classmates, problem-solving, and demonstrating perseverance while encouraging one another. Using the Wipebook Flipcharts as whiteboards for students to record their thinking is a non-threatening way for students to actively participate in their learning.
VNPS has been a game changer and I could not imagine teaching without them. Students have recorded things they notice and wonder about, recorded their ideas around topics, answered questions, solve problems and create possible solutions. It provides me with a snapshot of their understanding and helps me know where I need to go next with their learning. Having the opportunity to go back and re-visit their VNPS and add to their learning has allowed students to go further in their learning and understanding. Once the activity is complete, they get to wipe the surfaces clean and try again next time.
Collaboration & Community
Wipebooks have helped in nurturing a safe community where learners can take risks, problem solve and preserve with their peers together. Creating flexible groupings multiple times a day allows students to work with different peers for each activity. I have found that these opportunities have aided students in getting to know one another. Which has had positive impacts within our learning community inside and outside the classroom. This year, in particular, I found that connections have taken place quickly compared to other years. I also find that students are taking more ownership when choosing their seats, partners for other group activities and supporting each other with learning tasks. I believe that Wipebooks have role played an integral role in fostering community and collaboration.
Natasha Boutilier, Rocky Lake Elementary, Halifax Regional Centre for Education
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