Learning through social interaction


Ermelinda Luis, Teacher, St. Joseph Catholic School, WCDSB



“Human beings learn more, flourish, and connect more when they’re cooperating and less when they’re competing or working in isolated fashion” (Johnson & Johnson).


Cooperative learning is an example of an organized structure -- an instructional method where students are engaged in higher level thinking tasks through the use of vertical non-permanent surfaces such as Wipebook Flipcharts.


During cooperative learning, students work together in order to maximize their learning and each other’s learning.


From personal experience I've noticed that students’ academic achievement can increase while they develop their student voice resulting in greater self-efficacy.  And social interactions through cooperative learning has the ability to greatly increase the latter-mentioned overall engagement as well.




Need for cooperative learning

As provided by this  Council Of Ministers Of Education report teachers today are required to build lifelong learners with strong foundations in numeracy and literacy so that students are better equipped to face a “complex and unpredictable future with rapidly changing political, social, economic, technological, and ecological landscapes”.


Students need to be actively engaged in the learning process, understand the skills and concepts being taught, so that they can reason and evaluate -- critically think.


With the use of Wipebooks Flipcharts teachers can prepare, plan, and monitor the cooperative learning opportunities in order to purposely engage students in social interaction -- all proponents of a #thinkingclassroom. In turn, this results in greater student engagement and voice. With increased social interaction, students strengthen their level of conceptual understanding.




A change in learning culture

Using this cooperative approach students engage in self-guided gallery walks and are often seen discussing  AND thinking with other fellow mathematicians while gesturing to both their own and their peers representations and strategies.


During consolidation, students are EVEN MORE engaged in what is documented on the vertical non-permanent surface. Students enjoy seeing other strategies and comparing how their thinking is different; therefore, creating a stronger and deeper understanding of the problem and subsequent solutions. Moving from ‘thinking space’ to ‘thinking space’ has a greater impact on student engagement too. According to the “vision of the math learner” visual, educators need to consider the physical aspect of learning.


On account of mathematicians working on vertical non-permanent surfaces, they did not stay with their groups at their ‘thinking space’, but navigated the room for their own purposes while wrestling with ideas from their peers. In this context, mathematicians were able to stretch and extend their thinking. In interacting with peers, they naturally engaged in the “why” or “how” questions. They no longer relied on the teacher as the master of all answers, but were willing to grapple with each other to solve complex questions.



Increase student achievement

As Peter Liljedahl describes a Thinking Classroom as a “classroom that is not only conducive to thinking but also occasions thinking, a space that is inhabited by thinking individuals as well as individuals thinking collectively, learning together, and constructing knowledge and understanding through activity and discussion”. As mathematical thinkers take greater control and ownership of the learning the greater the depth of knowledge. As a result, self-efficacy increases leading to greater overall achievements.


The challenge 

I challenge all educators to use Wipebooks Flipchart and see how it creates opportunities for mathematicians to reason through problem solving, make connections among other mathematician thinking, and subsequently provide greater opportunities for collaboration in the classroom.


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