Ryan Foley, 6th Grade Math, Grant Elementary School, Spokane Public Schools, Spokane, Washington.
Student: “Are we using our Wipebooks today?”
Introducing Wipebook as VNPS
I knew I was on to something shortly after I introduced Wipebook as Vertical non- Permanent Surfaces (VNPS) in my 6th grade math class this fall. Making Math Moments that Matter online workshop introduced me to the company Wipebook and Peter Liljedahl’s research on VNPS. I had been eyeing the possibility of VNPS for a year now and couldn’t find an affordable solution until I crossed paths with Wipebook.
VNPS changing the structure of the classroom
Three months into using our Wipebooks, my class structure has completely changed. The onset of using rich mathematical tasks in concert with VNPS clearly has increased mathematical dialogue and most notably grit and perseverance. I am seeing students take chances in spots where they use to hesitate. The VNPS allows students space to show their thinking, models, and methods used in their tasks. As their teacher, I can see strategies, assess work with conversations, asking students to explain their thinking. My small group meetings have flourished. I intentionally meet with each student at a VNPS to talk about their work. The Wipebooks provide a visual record of students’ work and strategies I specifically select and sequence to illuminate our learning goal for that day.
Part of every math period has moved to our VNPS. I take tasks and problems from our text, withhold information to pique student interest, and group students randomly to begin work at a VNPS station. As work commences, I monitor and assess who I might check in with first. I can easily drop in on conversations and pose questions to help students move forward in their task.
Engaging Students in Conversation
Probably my favorite part of starting to use VNPS in my class is the conversations between students. When students are standing with no desk between them, it forces their interaction in a positive way. Students are now discussing their level-one move into the task. They record a thought on the VNPS and already they are off and going!
Lastly, I love how moving our work to VNPS has normalized mistakes. In some way, our Wipebooks have given us freedom to explore and try even when we might not know how to get to the solution- Amen to that!
One student, commented “When we started using Wipebooks not only was it more engaging, but also left more room for mistakes and improving.”
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