# Finding Our Feet

## Thinking From Our Seats

If you ask my class of 6th and 7th grade students what their favourite subject is, you will hear a resounding, “PHYS ED!” In my 16 years of teaching, I have never had a group of students who are quite as active, social, and energetic as my current class. They thrive when they have opportunities for movement, discussion, and friendly competition. And yet, due to physical distancing protocols to ensure student safety during Covid, for the past few years they have been taught through a computer screen or in rows of single desks, facing forward, with limited opportunities for movement or collaboration.

There is a robust body of research that highlights the importance of physical movement to promote executive functioning, student engagement, and overall well-being and achievement. Simply put, kids learn better when they have the chance to move. With the gradual easing of Covid protocols this year, one thing was very clear in my class: we needed to get out of our seats and back up on our feet.

## Thinking On Our Feet

Our Wipebook Flipcharts arrived just as we were beginning our Location and Movement unit in Math. I was immediately impressed with the grid side of the charts, which allowed my students to practice translations, reflections, and rotations in all four quadrants of a Cartesian plane. In the photos below, students wrote a series of instructions for their classmates to follow. The dry-erase surface allowed the creators to draw their original image, draw each transformation to determine where the new image would appear, record the steps, then erase their work, leaving just the original image and directions for their classmates to follow. Students rotated through each station created by their peers, checking their solutions and then erasing their work before proceeding to the next station.

In our current Measurement unit, students were challenged to determine the least amount of fencing required to surround a garden with an area of 28 m². In visibly random groups, students immediately got to work using the Wipebooks, some using the grid side to measure; others using the blank page to record calculations. As described in Peter Liljedahl’s fantastic book, Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics, students who were feeling ‘stuck’ could easily look around the classroom to glean ideas from the work of their peers. The ability to quickly erase their mistakes also meant that they were much more likely to attempt a solution, even if it didn’t work out. As we continued with our work throughout the week, I left the Wipebook charts up on our classroom walls to see if students would gravitate back to them. Sure enough, students asked to use them every day without any prompting.

## Movement Matters

When we were thinking from our seats, students were often restless, antsy, and distracted, even when working in partners or small groups. With our new VNPS (vertical, non-permanent spaces) tools, students are more engaged, more willing to take risks and persevere, and are gradually improving collaborative skills. The reusable and eco-friendly Wipebook products have been a game changer in our busy classroom, allowing for flexibility, movement, and connection. As we continue to work towards getting back to ‘normal’, Wipebooks have become a valuable tool in helping us find our feet again.

## Amanda Hipgrave, Teacher, Highland Heights Public School

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