"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of our school year had masks hiding smiling faces, Zoom meetings with parents, and less exploring and discovering"
I love the start of a new school year: New school supplies, the nervous, smiling faces of incoming students, anxious parents cornering me so that they can tell me all about their child. Those first days are filled with exploring and discovering all the new information around them. They learn about the expectations and protocols for the new grade level. As a teacher, I love this time of year because I get to start building strong student relationships.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the start of our school year had masks hiding smiling faces, Zoom meetings with parents, and less exploring and discovering and more relearning how to function in a pandemic classroom. Most of the first week of school was filled with learning new COVID protocols and figuring out how I was going to teach and students were going to learn.
Early in the school year, I learned quickly that I would need to be extremely visual in my instruction. I’ve always loved drawing pictures, but teaching in a pandemic forced me to rely more on storytelling and explaining complex topics visually. I taught my students a visual vocabulary developed by Dan Roam that tapped into students’ visual minds and allowed them to clearly articulate their thinking. I was limited to lecturing while students remained seated (in-person) or watched from their homes (remote learning). In the classroom, I could rely on my whiteboard to sketch out big ideas. Pre-pandemic, I could have students come up to the whiteboard and sketch out their thinking. When we moved to remote learning, I struggled to communicate visually via Zoom. I didn’t have a huge whiteboard in my home. I needed something quick and flexible.
The Wipebook Flipchart was a game-changer! During my LIVE on Zoom, I annotated directly on the wall behind me. I could sketch out my thinking during a lesson and students could follow along at home. Visual thinking on the Wipebook became an easy way to check for understanding while increasing student participation. When I needed a more flexible writing space, I took apart the Wipebook Flipchart and sketched on the floor or landscape on the wall.
The best part was that using the Wipebook Flipchart forced me to get creative about teaching content. I recorded instructional videos that I sent to my students to watch as many times as they needed. Since I could take the Wipebook Flipchart apart, I was able to create RSA Animate style videos for my students!
Once we return to the classroom, I plan to take my Wipebook Flipchart with me!
Adrian Neibauer, Dakota Valley Elementary School, Cherry Creek School District
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