I have long been a proponent of having students complete math problems whenever and wherever the mood strikes.
Students at Hillfield Strathallan College can be found with a whiteboard marker in hand scribbling on desks, windows, whiteboards and Wipebook flipchart. Recent literature tells us that working on a vertical surface has many benefits. The physical benefits alone are numerous. Particularly now that we are using technology more and more we find most of our day is spent sitting. With a vertical surface we are getting the benefits of standing and moving – allowing better blood flow and building strength and endurance in leg and arm muscles.
Developing Math Teaching Practice
Beyond the physical benefits of standing during the school day, I have found vertical surfaces have helped develop my math teaching practice. Having all students display their work simultaneously, I can see how my students have grasped the concepts. With a glance around the room I can see which students have mastered the skill we are developing and which students need additional support.
A Great Tool for Revision
This is a great tool for revision. I orally give questions to the class that they work out on their own Wipebook Flipchart, or I might have posted various questions on each Wipebook Flipchart and had students work alone or in small groups so solve the problem. This builds collaboration between students and develops their problem solving skills. Once students have successfully solved the question they can erase their answers (no hints for the next group!) and move on to another question. This might be set up around the room and pairs of students travel throughout the room.
One advantage of the Heavy Duty Wipebook Flipchart is that I can put it on an easel, or attach to a wall or bulletin board. With ease I have added extra non-permanent working surfaces for my students.
Growing Students Spatial Awareness
With the surface in the vertical direction, students are also developing their spatial awareness and are able to make greater connections in the up and down direction. For example, when discussing slope and the concepts of “rise” and “run” the idea of rise is now in an appropriate context for them to make sense of this term. Further, even when representing three-dimensional shapes in two-dimensions on the Wipebook – like a pyramid or cylinder for example - when students are labelling the height it is now in the proper plane.
I hope you will experiment using a non-permanent vertical surface in your classroom. The benefits are numerous.
Wendy Jones, Instructional Chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, Hillfield Strathallan College
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