Experimenting With Wipebook in the Science Classroom

"Students are much more engaged when they are able to use creativity and tactile learning to practice scientific reasoning. As an environmental science teacher, I also love that we can reduce waste by utilizing reusable materials."


Our featured educator and blogger, Ayla Will


 As a high school science teacher, I am constantly searching for ways to help students engage in the eight  NGSS science practices; (1) Asking questions, (2) Developing & using models, (3) Planning & carrying out Investigations, (4) Analyzing & interpreting Data, (5) Using mathematics & computational thinking, (6) Constructing explanations, (7) Engaging in arguments from evidence, and (8) Obtaining, evaluating, & communicating information. Since adopting Wipebook Flipcharts this fall, I have found them an extremely valuable support to build these skills within both my 11th grade Chemistry and 12th grade Environmental Science classes. 


Engaging in Arguments from Evidence


The first activity we tried in Environmental Science was a Building Background Knowledge (BBK) workshop on the mystery of Easter Island. The BBK workshop is a protocol used to help students gather evidence about an engaging topic or question. And then using the topic as a launching point for further study or analysis. In this case, students used the workshop to gather evidence to form an argument about the best hypothesis for the collapse of the Rapa Nui civilization. Groups of students first analyzed a “mystery piece” (photo of the Moai statues) and brainstormed their background knowledge (recorded in blue in the example below). They then collectively reviewed a common resource and added evidence to their prior knowledge (recorded in red). Finally, students independently engaged in further research using “expert” resources, then came together to share their respective findings. This stage of the discussion was recorded in green in the example below. Throughout the process, the Wipebook served as a way to make student learning more visible and keep students engaged in the discussion process. After the workshop, students participated in a gallery walk to view each other's work. The class then used their collective concept maps to develop their own evidence-based arguments for why the Rapa Nui civilization collapsed.

A we of the background knowledge brainstorming a group of students created for Easter Island


Developing & Using Models


In Chemistry class, our first unit focused on the kinetic theory of matter and the relationships between the temperature, pressure, and volume of gasses. WipeBooks were an excellent way for students to develop models for particle behavior after exploring a PhET simulation on the properties of gasses. Smaller whiteboards were used in conjunction with the Wipebook Flipcharts to allow students to give each other feedback on their models. In this way, students mimicked the process of scientific peer review. The Flipcharts made it extremely easy for students to visualize their understanding of particle behavior and it was simple to clean up and re-use the Flipcharts for the next class. 



Analyzing & Interpreting Data


Another useful application of Wipebook's Flipcharts in Chemistry was for data analysis. In our next activity, students collected data to prepare a heating curve for water. In this variation on a classic chemistry experiment, students were encouraged to illustrate their data and explanations using their Flipcharts. We again used a Gallery Walk procedure for peer feedback. In this way, students practiced their graphing skills and were able to more tangibly visualize the important phase changes that were occurring as they heated their water from 0ºC to 100ºC. This activity then served as a launching point for further investigation of the anchoring phenomenon of the implosion of a railroad tanker due to a sudden drop in internal temperature and pressure. 



Overall, I am extremely happy with how students have responded to the use of Wipebook's Flipcharts in the science classroom. Students are much more engaged when they are able to use creativity and tactile learning to practice scientific reasoning. As an environmental science teacher, I also love that we can reduce waste by utilizing reusable materials. Finally, using Flipcharts allows me to save my valuable science budget for lab equipment and experiment supplies, rather than reams and reams of chart and graph paper. Needless to say, WipeBooks are here to stay in my science classroom!


Ayla Wilk, 11&12 Grade Science Teacher, Summit Public Schools


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