The Walls Are Alive...

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The Walls Are Alive...

By: kcarter

...with the math of students! This year, I wanted seventh grade students to be more actively involved in constructing math knowledge in my class. In the past, I have tried to base my lessons around discussion, but students often had difficulty collaborating when they needed to look at each other's work on paper, because it was hard for everyone to look at one piece of writing and really see what was happening. They also were afraid of putting ideas down, because once it was on paper, it often felt final. I decided to make every team their own vertical board space so they could present their ideas more clearly, more collaboratively, and in a lower stakes way (dry erase and chalkboard being clearly erasable, making them more of a "rough draft" of thinking). I bought two large pieces of tileboard at Home Depot and cut them down to more convenient classroom sizes, then I spent two days engaging in a lot of trial and error for installing them in my room. I also used chalkboard paint to create a board space where I couldn't install tileboard. I now have seven vertical spaces, one designated for each team, and I try to send students to their boards every day. At this point, students know that whenever they are talking to their group, they can go to the board to present their thinking more clearly. When I explicitly tell them to work on their board, they are tasked to synthesize their thinking into one clear idea. I have experimented with how this looks, between using one marker to get everyone on the same page or a marker for each student to show how they are contributing to the whole. My pictures show a combination, with earlier pictures demonstrating the one-marker-per-group strategy and more recent ones showing how different students track their ideas in the group. This hack has helped me structure my full-group discussions more explicitly around student thinking, because I can point who had what strategy and have them explain more fully to the group with their visual up. It has also encouraged students to take more risks, because they know they can easily erase. At the same time, it pushes them to show their thinking clearly, because they are visible to everyone in the room.

HackClassroomMiddleMath12-35 StudentsDiscussionGroup WorkSignage

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