Starting to Build a Thinking Classroom

"I feel lucky to have found these flipcharts and be able to use them often in my classroom. It has made a difference in my students' attitudes towards math and has boosted their confidence."

 

The past few years have been wild, thanks to the pandemic. I work in a school that follows the looping model so I get to keep my students for two years through fifth and sixth grade. It truly is the best getting to watch them grow throughout the two years. When they come in as fifth graders they are shy, hesitant to try new things, and overall shocked at how different fifth grade is compared to elementary school.

 

I have read, and reread Building Thinking Classrooms, by Peter Liljedahl, and his description of vertical non-permanent surfaces still remains my favourite teaching. I truly believe mistakes are the best thing about teaching math. I love watching students solve problems and miss a step and then getting to talk to them about what happened. Watching students have that lightbulb moment gives me the truest form of satisfaction. In order to help bring this reality to my classroom I searched for an upgrade from the tired whiteboards in my classroom. I was concerned about storage space as I looked for an alternative as its tricky to find homes for new classroom materials. One night I found Wipebook and their reusable Flipcharts, I was giddy with excitement because this was exactly what I was looking for.

 

From the very first day I introduced the Flipcharts to my class, the students LOVED using them. I have a few places in my classroom where I can hang them, but I can also use the hallway and secure them with magnets on the lockers. This allowed students to be able to stand up, spread out and work in collaboration with their classmates. They loved getting to work with partners in a new and exciting way.

 

3 groups of students work in pairs on separate flipcharts solving math problems

 

I have also been using them for tabletop activities in my classroom by laying them on the tables throughout the room. While, it is not vertical there are times when it's easier for the class to remain seated. It makes for an easier activity when the students are in larger groups to have them seated as its allows everyone a space at the board. Students are able to gather around the Flipchart and be able to write and contribute their ideas to the group while still being able to see the work others are doing.

 

Students work on a Flipchart while seated around a table

 

For one of the activities, I gave students task cards and they worked to solve them. Some made it a game and split the flipchart in half and each partner solved the problem and talked about how they solved the problems. I had 100% of the students engaged in the activity. For the next few days students were asking if they could do that again. 

 

I was observed by a district administrator recently and we used them as the review for our test that would be the following day. I had the review printed out on cardstock and the students received ten question cards. She was impressed with how active students were working and talking about the math problems in front of them.

 

A student works through a math problem on a Flipchart

 

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed having the Wipebook flipcharts in my classroom. One of the best features is the Wipbeook Scan app feature that allows me to take a picture of the chart and upload it to my Google Drive. This has been great with needing to provide work samples, especially during the special education testing process. It is so easy to scan and then share with whomever.

 

I feel lucky to have found these flipcharts and be able to use them often in my classroom. It has made a difference in my students' attitudes towards math and has boosted their confidence.

 

Teddie Brune, Mitchell Intermediate School, Conroe Independent School District

 

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2 comments

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