For me, I use a set of 4 criteria to evaluate all resources, tools, and lesson ideas. It helps me quickly narrow down whether a tool will help me achieve the desired results I look for in my classroom.
Here are the four criteria.
I want ALL my students to show me their thinking and understanding in interesting ways. I want them to show me what they think first instead of just telling them what to think! I want to open up the questioning that goes on in my room. So I look and create lessons that allow for this.
I want my students to discuss, collaborate, argue, defend, and justify with each other. I believe this helps clarify their learning and understanding so I must make sure that discussion and collaboration happen in my best lessons.
I am always assessing! I’m constantly looking to see who gets what we are doing and who needs help. I need to be able to assess quickly the abilities in my room so I can use that on the fly to decide where to go next. Assessing easily must be apart of my lessons.
Every lesson or activity must have a ratio between the cost of set up and the payoff where the payoff heavily out weighs the set up. Nothing is worse than spending a huge chunk of time, making, cutting, designing and then when you run it the learning outcome wasn’t worth it. The payoff must out weigh the set up.
My #1 Go-To tool/technique is WHITEBOARDS!! Having my students work in random pairs daily at vertical whiteboards is the tool that easily allows my students to get to work faster and hit all four of my criteria.
On a whiteboard students can easily show off their learning. They are quicker to get to writing on a whiteboard than on paper. Especially when the boards on the wall. Students get to defend, argue, justify their thinking with each other. I can easily see if students are understanding and the set up ratio is a no brainer. Here’s a whiteboard, marker….Go!
I’ve had students use small personal whiteboards at their desks before, but I couldn’t believe the change in active engagement and cooperation once they were standing. The discussions they were having about the math was much more insightful and meaningful.
Our whiteboard work usually starts as soon as the bell rings. In random pairs students would put up a few homework questions from the previous day. I could see students looking around verifying their work with their peers. They were self assessing.
We continue to make use of the boards while we work through our new challenges. Students have no problem leaving their space to go and talk to another group to gain some insight on new strategies….This is how we create great classroom culture. I can easily circulate the room to engage students in conversations and challenge their reasoning.
WHITEBOARDS IN YOUR CLASSROOM
Recently, Kyle Pearce and I took Wipebook Chart Packs on the road with us to some conferences and district presentations for our Making Math Moments That Matter workshop series and they worked great! In a breakout session we held at The OAME Leadership Conference in 2017, we had a room of over 100 teachers, consultants, and coaches up at the walls doing a math problem with us. It was fantastic!
We had so many participants asking for more details on how to get their own Wipebook Chart Packs that they are now offering an exclusive Educator Starter Pack you can only get through us!!!
EDUCATOR STARTER PACK
The education starter pack includes:
A Wipebook Flipchart (pack of 10);
A Wipebook Notebook Plain;
A Wipebook Workbook Graph;
A single correctable marker; and
A single tri-plus marker.
Your exclusive Making Math Moments That Matter offer is 25% off the list price value!!!
Full disclosure: Kyle and I love this product so much that we became affiliates for Wipebook. Which means if you purchase through our link here YOU get a discount and WE get a small percentage with no extra cost to you! Win/Win!