Patricia Kolonicki, Grade 9 educator, Division Avenue High School, Levitton, NY
As a teacher, finding ways to get students engaged in learning can be a challenge. Add to that teaching mathematics to students with disabilities- students aren’t typically sprinting to my class and chatting up a storm about math!
Discovering ThinkingClassroom and VNPS
I can’t recall exactly where my search to find help started. My best guess was an article was shared on Twitter by someone awesome in my #PLN about Peter Liljedahl and thinkingclassroom , and then it led me down the internet rabbit-hole to Laura Wheeler’s blog post. I learned about VNPS- also known as vertical non-permanent surfaces. Sounds fancy, but in actuality- it’s about having vertical surfaces for students to write on around your room.
What does THAT do? Why does it matter? First, students are standing, which may support their increased levels of engagement. Second, it isn’t a piece of chart paper, which, if anyone has ever stood in front of one, is intimidating. What if you make a mistake? You’ll have to cross it out! Peter Liljedahl’s research showed an increase in starting times, an increase in the time students are engaged on the task, and the time spent persevering through tasks, when using VNPS!
Finding Engagement through VNPS
So being a thrifty teacher I used my SMART Board, and an additional white board in my classroom. I then put a group on the window (yep, white board markers work on these), and finally, on two smaller white boards taped to the wall. Instant engagement! I honestly looked at my teaching assistant in awe on the first day we started using this technique.
A New Year Filled with VNPS and Wipebook Flipcharts
Fast forward to this year. I came prepare to begin the school year using this method. Moving to the high school and not knowing my new room set up, I came prepared with WipeBook pages. Quick and easy. They were put up in my room and my students are now engaging in “productive struggle” as they talk and write together about math. To better promote discussion, give a question that may be just out of their reach. Maybe it is an extension to what you reviewed yesterday, maybe it is a mix of a few topics, but they haven’t experienced a question like that yet. Give them time to think independently about it, and then have them move into groups by a WipeBook page. You’ll be amazed!
You may also like :
- Collaboration and teamwork through VNPS and Thinkingclassroom
- A Thinkingclassroom Origin Story
- How We Expanded our Critical Thinking Beyond the Classroom