"Discovering Wipebook has helped me be even more flexible when it comes to where I can work and how I can make thinking visible for all students."
"Good morning everyone! Would Ms. Coape-Arnold's lit circle group please head out to the learning stairs?" So begins my day as a Learning Assistance Teacher, working in a brand new building with beautiful, light-filled, flexible learning spaces. I often work collaboratively with teaching teams, co-planning and co-teaching lessons to help them effectively reach all of their diverse learners. The catch? I don't have a space of my own, so most of my support is done in shared spaces - classrooms, hallways and, yes, the learning stairs. The tools of my trade must be portable and flexible; I have taken to wearing a fanny pack filled with pencils, erasers, gum and, my most important tool, whiteboard markers. Oh, and an old sock to use as a whiteboard eraser, of course. The trick, of course, is finding a whiteboard to write on. Enter the reusable and eco-friendly Wipebook Flipchart, a perfectly portable solution to my ever-changing needs.
Whiteboards as a support tool
Although I work with all students in the school, my main focus is on those students who have different learning needs - ELL students, students with learning disabilities and students who need a little extra help grasping a concept. Over many years of working with this group of students, particularly at the middle school level, I've learned that whiteboards are magical. Students who will absolutely not put any thoughts or ideas down on a piece of paper will happily grab a whiteboard marker and start solving a math problem, planning a piece of writing or sketching a plot diagram. It truly is amazing! And while we are lucky enough to have whiteboard tables in our classrooms, we don't have them in the nooks and crannies that serve as a quiet working space for me. Grabbing my Wipebook allows me to put it on the floor, hang it on a wall or lay it on a table so that my students and I can work barrier-free anywhere in the building (and even outside!).
Not just for support
In many of the classes I'm in, we have been experimenting with vertical non-permanent surfaces (VNPS). It can be difficult to find enough vertical writing space in a classroom though, especially in ones with as many windows as ours have (my heart goes out to all teaching in older buildings with limited windows. Leaving that behind has definitely been one of the highlights of moving to a new building). Most of our whiteboards double as screens for our projectors and we have glass garage doors that open to the hallways, leaving limited whiteboard space in the classrooms (one of the surprising drawbacks of the beautiful new building). Initially, we were all excited to have the kids write on the windows and clear garage doors but that proved to be difficult to see and somewhat distracting, so the students abandoned that pretty quickly. Again, enter Wipebooks. We can post them anywhere in the classrooms or hallways and ensure that students have enough space to think through complex problems collaboratively. We can also easily save their thinking through the app or by saving one of the removable whiteboard pages for later. Being able to return to student thinking in this way allows us to dig deeper into how they approach new problems and how they can communicate their thinking.
Not just for students
When I first told my admin team about Wipebook, they were intrigued. When I brought my Wipebook to a meeting, they were thrilled. Being able to record adult thinking is just as important as being able to record student thinking; the more visible we can make our own thought processes, the more accessible they become to others. As we were working our way through a goal-setting meeting we were recording thinking in multiple colours, easily erasing and adding as we went. We're excited to try out one of the stands so that the Wipebook can be easily displayed for a larger group to see.
Being in a brand new building has been a gift in so many ways - we have large windows that flood the school with light even on the greyest days, flexible learning spaces that morph easily with the twist of a key and a team of teachers who are keen to be creative and innovative. As a teacher who doesn't have a space of my own, this new building has come with a few challenges (like, where, exactly, do I find a quiet space to work with a small group?). Discovering Wipebook has helped me be even more flexible when it comes to where I can work and how I can make thinking visible for all students.
Bryn Coape-Arnold, Teacher, HS Grenda Middle School
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