Justin Brennan, Grade 9 Math Teacher, St. Charles North High School, CUSD303, St. Charles, Illinois.
Working on Wipebook Flipcharts provides a way for students to get real-time feedback across a variety of math activities. My Wipebook stations are affixed to the walls around the perimeter of my classroom. I can instantly see how 2 dozen students are progressing on a task. If a student group takes a wrong turn, I know the feedback is only delayed as long as it takes me to strut to their Wipebook station. Heck, students don’t even need to ask for my help as they can take note of what their peers are doing around the room.
The amount of time it takes to provide specific feedback to groups during Wipebook Flipchart activities is a fraction of what it takes to provide written feedback, even though it is far more effective. Moreover, because I have a better sense for what is going on in my classroom, the increased efficiencies created result in expedited progression through the task. That means covering more math or implementing targeted interventions.
The Why Behind the Math
Many students that historically struggle in Algebra haven’t mastered order of operations. A few weeks before the school year started, a “viral” order of operations problem was circulating social media, even getting recognized by the New York Times. When I saw it, I immediately understood its value as a great way to determine just what kind of order of operations knowledge my brand new crop of freshman Algebra students were bringing to my class.
I chose this activity to be the first task of the year that we’d use the Wipebook Flipcharts. Once they started working in small groups, it became transparent that most students were familiar with some basic premises of order of operations, but there were numerous misconceptions.
When students completed their first attempt on the problem, I had them look at the work of their peers, and it became apparent that there was little consensus in their answers. That moment then provided students with need for the “why” it was necessary to have a consistent order of operations hierarchy.
I incorporate a lot of rich problem solving tasks into our weekly routines. Wipebook Flipcharts are a great tool for students to organize their thinking and demonstrate their skills. It is awesome to see students trying different methods and justifying their work with math. And as students proceed, I am selecting and sequencing students’ work to drive the learning objective.
Enhancing Tasks with Wipebook
The physical orientation of the Wipebook Flipcharts is also beneficial. First, kids sit way too much during the school day. I love having the kids get up and out of their seats. Active bodies lead to active brains. I also think that the Wipebook Stations are more inviting to student collaboration. The Wipebook Flipchart stations allow all students to have easier access to the task than at our tables.
One of my newer uses of Wipebook Flipcharts is having students create note pages for their interactive notebooks. When we introduced exponential functions, I had students evaluate tables and plot graphs of an increasing and decreasing exponential function. Then, I had students synthesize their learning by creating their own anchor charts on a Wipebook Flipchart.
At the end of class, I scanned all of the students’ work to see what learning the students took away and to select particular elements to appear in a note sheet that the students would later tape into their interactive notebooks.
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