Helping Students Collaborate More in Math Class

"...when students are working in groups, the level of critical thinking increases as they are able to bounce ideas off one another and develop new ideas they might not have thought of on their own."

 

The Introduction to Wipebooks

When you walk into Mrs. Evan’s math classes you can’t help but hear the buzz of students collaborating to solve their math problems on the reusable Wipebook Flipcharts located around her classroom. Mrs. Evans, an 8th-grade math teacher at South Middle School in Grand Forks, North Dakota, was frustrated with the lack of group workspace for her students. She knew she needed to create a way for her students to work in groups on their math problems. While reading online this past summer, she came across a post on a Facebook group for math teachers. She read through the post and wondered if Wipebook products could maybe solve her problem by incorporating the thinking classroom method. She decided to order a heavy-duty pack which included 10 flipcharts double sided with both graph and blank pages. Mrs. Evans took apart the pack and placed them around her classroom.  She told me this has been a great addition to her classroom.

 

Gallery walk view of the Flipcharts posted around the class

 

The Benefits of using Wipebook Flipcharts

Mrs. Evans shared with me the many benefits she has found using the Wipebook flipcharts with her students. First, once her students begin working in groups, she can move around the room, she can stop by a group, ask clarifying questions, maybe even probe a bit deeper asking the group to explain how they came to that answer. Second, she can quickly scan the room identifying if a group needs her attention with the problem. Lastly, she knows when students are working in groups, the level of critical thinking increases as they can bounce ideas off one another and develop new ideas they might not have thought of on their own. 

 

Students solving different math problems using the Flipchart

 

As I walked around the room, I observed students working on graphing a "line of best fit" from a scatter plot. I watched as students were actively involved in the discussion by collaborating to solve their math problems. I asked students why they like using Wipebook Flipcharts instead of working individually at their desks? Students said they like being able to stand, it helps in their thinking when they are active while working on problems. Another student said we each have a different coloured marker to add our ideas, and it’s easy to erase if we mess up. Another student said, “it’s fun to write on the board especially when Mrs. Evans brings out her colourful markers.”

 

Students graphing large graphs to help visualize the solution better

 

Discussions occurring around the Flipchart

 

Mrs. Evans gives a thumbs up and recommends Wipebook flipcharts as a VNPS tool for any teacher who is struggling to incorporate group work with limited classroom space.

 

Carla Haaven, Instructional Design Coach, South Middle School ND

 

 

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