Collaborative and Critical Thinking in Civics

"Using whiteboards, including the Wipebook Charts, offers a great way to give immediate feedback and allow students to see their mistakes and improve their learning and skills."


One of the skills I want students to take away from my class is how to think, not what to think. In order to do this, I need to demonstrate and give students the chance to practice organizing their thoughts on information they encounter throughout our units. Working collaboratively with their peers is one way for students to be able to practice, encounter, and discuss their thinking. The reusable Wipebook Flipcharts make this activity easy to integrate VNPS tools and thinking classroom practices in the classroom. 


Image of work done on the Flipchart


Thinking Maps

Thinking maps offer students a variety of choices to organize their thinking and can often be integrated into any subject. When students work collaboratively with these maps, they are able to share and discuss their ideas. For this activity, I had students create thinking maps to explain various roles and tools aligned with U.S. Foreign Policy. Students were given a topic and then it was up to the group to decide on how to organize the information before presenting. Having an erasable surface to discuss ideas and offer suggestions allows each group member to contribute and share their thought process.


Thinking maps done on the Flipchart


Think, Collaborate, and Listen

In order to see how students would use the skills they have learned throughout the year, I was very vague on what their outcome should be. This is where they show me how they think. As I was circulating the room, I was able to hear students taking turns to share their ideas on how the information should be presented. Each student visually and verbally explained their ideas, erased their thoughts, and then passed the marker to the next group member. 


Students working on Thinking maps


Using the Wipebook Flipcharts allows students to edit and change their notes or ideas as they develop the discussion. Once they were done with their map, they presented the information to the class. Once every group had presented, the boards were cleaned and stored until our next activity. 


I use smaller white boards often for formative assessments. I ask the whole class a question and they respond using their whiteboards. This gives great feedback both to myself and my students. Using whiteboards, including the Wipebook Charts, offers a great way to give immediate feedback and allow students to see their mistakes and improve their learning and skills.


Students working on Thinking maps


Endless Possibilities!

Even though my experience is in social studies, other subjects can benefit from the flipcharts as well. The dotted graphing side can be used in math, while ELA can use them as a collaborative feedback tool. Some of my colleagues have come to observe their use and to brainstorm ideas on how they could use them in their classroom. As we enter review season for our upcoming end-of-course exam, my classes will get a lot of use with the Wipebook Charts. But that is the beauty of the product itself- easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to adapt to any lesson or subject. Shout out to the teachers on Twitter who have gotten me hooked on this product.

Allison Sheridan, Teacher, Heritage Middle School


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