The Rehearsal Restoration

"One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to help my students is to use Wipebook Workbooks for “rehearsal” before we have discussions."



Months have now turned to years, and students are continuing to have to adjust to the pandemic and all that it has thrown our way.  As I began this year with my 8th grade ELA students, one that promised to be at least a little more “normal,” I knew that students were going to need some time to reacclimate to the demands of school--socially, emotionally, and academically. One of the most effective ways I’ve been able to help my students is to use Wipebook Workbooks for “rehearsal” before we have discussions. Pandemic teaching and learning did not leave much room for students to have actual face to face (even masked) conversations, so we needed a way to restore their faith in themselves and rebuild their confidence.






Bringing Back Class Discussion 



Many educators have noticed that when there’s a few moments of time, and we say, “Ok, you can have a few minutes to chat” that there is a shocking silence. My 8th graders have been struggling with being together again in person, and when I told them we’d be having graded discussions, there was a wave of panic. Why would I “force” them into such an uncomfortable situation? 




  • ELA Standards include competencies for reading, writing, speaking and listening.
  • Students fear public speaking, yet this is a skill they will need to leverage for high school success
  • The social element of discussion is essential for students to reacclimate back to pre-Covid levels of confidence.






Students in my class are grouped at tables and on couches. I explained that they’d use their Wipebooks to jot down notes as they discussed specific questions with their group. They should first record their own ideas. Next, a table leader will ask the question of the group where they’d discuss it amongst themselves. As they chatted, they were to add to their notes. When I observed them in these small discussions, I asked Nolan what his thoughts were about doing this preliminary conversation as rehearsal for the large group discussion with the whole class. “I like that we are able to gather a bunch of answers so that when the discussion is going on we have lots of options. Usually, if someone else says the answer I was thinking, I don’t know what else to say. Now, I can just look at my notes,” Nolan explained.






The anxiety around the large group discussion diminished as they filled their Wipebooks with many options for each question. Obviously, this is a great way for students to be exposed to others’ ideas, and the social benefit is a bonus.



The Performance 



As we prepared for the graded discussion, we talked about how it as the performance that they’d been planning for. The truth is, it is an important skill for students to understand that “class participation” doesn’t just mean that you say something, it means that you say something accurate and meaningful, and that you are respectful in your interactions with others. In our graded discussion, students were required to make their comments, and then they had to call on someone from a different group to continue the conversation. This allowed for a richer dialog and broke the ice for everyone.



When we’d finished the grading discussion, we debriefed, and I think Izzy’s description explains the impact of using the Wipebooks for rehearsal. She explained, “It gave me the confidence to talk to the whole class because I knew that my own group already thought I did a good job.” This level of interdependence is also a great byproduct of rehearsal with Wipebooks.



Amber Chandler,Frontier Middle School, Frontier Central School District BOE. 



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