Collaborative learning is crucial for the 21st century

Susan Racco

Teacher, St. Vincent de Paul School, Cambridge, ON



Building a collaborative classroom

Collaboration is an important skill for 21st-century learners.  As educators, our job is to create a classroom community where students feel safe to take risks and to make mistakes.  We want our students to have a growth mindset and demonstrate grit. It is especially important when it comes to mathematics, as this tends to be a subject area where many students can be reluctant or feel less confident in their abilities.  My goal is to change their mindsets by the end of the year so that everyone leaves my classroom loving math. #VNPS and the use of Wipebook Flipcharts are one of the tools that help me achieve this goal!



Getting right to the math

By using #VNPS, students are able to get right to math and deep thinking.  Students are free to try various strategies, erase when needed, and communicate their thinking with ease.  Collaboration not only occurs between group members but also between various groups due to close proximity and the simple fact that the Wipebook Flipcharts are placed vertically around the classroom.  Students can look to other groups when they are stuck, to see various strategies and to ask questions when needed and then get right back to the math. Everyone’s thinking is visible and because of this, all students can learn from each other.



Sample math task

I often pick open-ended math questions that have various entry points so that every student in my classroom can participate and achieve success.  I also use random groupings of three students with one marker per group to promote discussion and collaboration. In this particular math class students were asked to create a polygon with a perimeter of 40 cm.  They were given string to do this and were asked to tape their polygon on the Wipebook. After estimating each side length and then measuring, students were given the task to draw the same shape but with a perimeter of 60 cm and then with 1 m.  Students had to think about proportional relationships and how changing the perimeter changed each side length. Students were engaged and excited to tackle this problem!




Make math fun

There is nothing that makes me happier than to hear my students say “math is fun” and to see them engaged in learning and excited to find a solution.  There are many tools that I use in my math class to build engagement and to foster a collaborative environment including Wipebook gear. My students love using Wipebook Flipcharts and it is something that can be used for so many purposes in every classroom.  I encourage all teachers to use #VNPS in their classrooms. It will change the way your students view math and it will bring about engagement and deep learning!


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