How VNPS and thinkingclassroom Changed the Sound of My Math Class
Shannon Squire, Grade 7 educator, Masonville P.S., TVDSB
Collaboration in the new dynamic #thinkingclassroom
If you walk into my math classroom today, you will encounter an environment very different from the silent, textbook driven classes I experienced as a learner. Students will not be sitting in rows; in fact, students may not even be sitting and it will definitely not be a quiet space.
This dynamic, dialogue-driven environment has evolved over the last 10 years.
When I began teaching, I knew that students needed to reason and prove in order to develop math understanding but I didn’t see this as something they did together and out loud.
Somewhere along the way (after much professional development and research), I began to understand that students need to talk. A LOT.
Making the essential change to VNPS
Last fall, my classroom took on a change when my students moved from partner problem-solving at their desks to getting up and using vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPS) and thinkingclassroom. My administration installed one large whiteboard and left me with a Wipebook FlipChart. This gave space for my entire class to get involved.
As I started using them, something awesome happened. Students starting talking about math.
This increased exponentially when I gave each group of three one marker to share and I asked the holder of the marker to record the group’s thinking. This teaching strategy became an essential part of my program. As students were presented with authentic problems on their whiteboards, they were encouraged to reason, justify, communicate and respectfully disagree.
They seemed happy to show their thinking, make mistakes and reevaluate the efficiency of their work. Students were exposed to the thinking and problem-solving strategies of their peers while working through their own understanding.
VNPS quickly became a favourite learning strategy for my students and I watched as the math dialogue fostered so many of the essential mathematical processes that I knew my students needed.
Not simply doing math but engaging in the process of math for a #thinkingclassroom
If you walk into my math class today, you may see students arguing respectfully about which bag of SunChips is the best deal or which pattern doesn’t belong but know that they are sharing rich and engaging math conversations that encourage them to communicate their math understanding through reasoning and proving.
Know that each student has a voice and that by being a part of this math dialogue, they are developing more efficient problem-solving strategies and those communication skills that they so desperately need.
In my classroom, using VNPS and thinkingclassroom has allowed my students to step away from simply doing the math to completely engaging in the process of math.
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