Learning How to Create a Thinking Classroom

If teachers don’t have vertical non-permanent surfaces in their classrooms, they are often searching for alternatives to use other than the expensive whiteboards that districts often are not willing or able to purchase. Wipebook offers such a great and affordable alternative with the Flipcharts. 

 

I always start my teacher workshops asking the participants “What would be the perfect class? You get to the end of an hour and say ‘that was the best day ever!’, what happened to make you say that?” Every answer I get describes my class every day since I have started using the Thinking Classroom. This summer I got to spend time with teachers wanting to learn more about the Thinking Classroom. The workshop was two days long and allowed us to learn and practice the 14 principles that make the Thinking Classroom.

Big Changes, Gradual Timeline

The Thinking Classroom brings very big changes to your classroom. I think of the classroom routines that are highly effective but don’t require big changes like Notice/Wonder and Number Talks. These routines are great to learn about because you can easily use them without the stress of completely changing your classroom.

Alternatively, the nature of the Thinking Classroom is that it transforms your entire class into a place where students are engaged and learning the whole time, not just during a routine that takes a part of the class period. This means there are big and wonderful changes ahead. This also means that there is a commitment to major changes.

This can seem overwhelming, but take comfort in that the changes are gradual and you don’t have to do all fourteen components at one time. I personally started with a goal of getting my students to the boards twice a week. Two years later I realized that almost every day my students were working in groups at the boards. It happened naturally as I had time to make the changes and got hooked on the way the Thinking Classroom got my students thinking and active in their learning.

Needing Graph Paper

I have given one-hour intro workshop sessions to the Thinking Classroom in the past. This summer I wanted to dedicate more time to allow for participants to learn more details, practice the fourteen practices, and ask all their questions. I also wanted to give participants a chance to see and use the Wipebook Flipcharts and easels.

If teachers don’t have vertical non-permanent surfaces in their classrooms, they are often searching for alternatives to use other than the expensive whiteboards that districts often are not willing or able to purchase. Wipebook offers such a great and affordable alternative with the Flipcharts. 

We also found them to be useful even when we did have the traditional whiteboards available. We were working on a lesson about negative and zero exponents. You can read about it here. We found very quickly that a lot of time could be wasted having students copy the grid needed to do the puzzle. Using the gridded side of the Wipebook reusable Flipchart eliminated a large amount of copying time and allowed the participants to get to solving the puzzle faster. 

 

Note: When you buy a Flipchart, you will get 10 pages which means you will have a whiteboard space for 10 groups. Also, they are not sticky, so you will need to find a way to secure them to a wall. I would recommend hooks so that you can easily flip it from clear space to gridded space. During the workshop, I used painters tape, but I do not know that the tape would work long term, or be good for using both sides.

Large Class Sizes

I teach in a small school district, which means I have pretty small class sizes. One of the big concerns of teachers with large class sizes is how to manage that many groups and where to put all the groups. Even with small class sizes, teachers can struggle placing groups at boards if their classroom doesn’t have the wall space to put whiteboards up.

Wipebook also has a solution for this problem with their easel. We also tested it out at the workshop. It is constructed of cardboard and has pegs at the top to hold the Wipebook Flipchart in place. It was very nice to use and proved to be easy to fold up and tuck away when it wasn’t needed. It could be set up on a table, allowing us to use the interior part of the classroom for groups, not just the walls. 

Note: The easel did not come with the Wipebook Flipchart, you would have to buy those also. It is also light weight, so you will need to weigh it down with something. You should be able to place a textbook on it in the back and it would stay just fine. 

 

Jessica Strom, Teacher, Win-E-Mac School

 

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