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Building Thinking Teams--With Wipebook Flipchart

Updated: May 9

If you are a math teacher, or you've been near a math teacher this year, you've probably heard of the work of Peter Liljdehal and his transformation research in Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics. While I am not trained in BTC, I do understand that there are 14 key practices that he unpacks throughout the text. These components are what lead to increased problem-solving abilities for students (and in math classrooms in particular!)

The 3rd practice relates to where the students work in a thinking classroom. I've heard instructional coaches and teachers explain that it's really important for thinkers to have VNPS--Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces--to show their processing, problem-solving, and thinking. In one session, we practiced this as a team (with a math problem) and as a thinker, I was in love.

Carrie Rosebrock

And since I work with school teams to develop engaged professional learning communities (PLCs) who need to meet weekly and think together, I immediately saw the connection between building thinking classrooms and building thinking teams. Specifically--I see the benefit of PLCs using VNPS during their meetings.


While I love a steady agenda (see Do We Really Need a PLC Agenda?) and teach about the power of predictability to create safe teams, I also witness firsthand the stalemate in thinking when teams are asked to analyze data, think, and then determine next steps. It's like teams are rockin' and rollin' and then they hit the "How will we respond to this data?" question and they all clam up. Well, most of them clam up (see Response vs. Reteach).

When I coach PLC leaders, I often encourage them to travel with blank pieces of what paper so they can create a third-point, a brainstorming space, when their teammates hit this wall. When I came across the research and power behind vertical non-permanent surfaces, and then used Wipebook sheets in a session, I was hooked.

Wipebook provides classrooms with VNPS, yes, and from my team-centered lens, I believe this is an outstanding resource for PLCs to use as well. Adult learners need thinking spaces, too, and Wipebook sheets provide that space. If we can get our thinking out on the Wipebook sheet, then summarize our ideas on our agendas--voila! We gave ourselves the save space to think and process--in a more engaging format for all teammates--and then we summarize our decisions before the meeting ends.

What's a Wipebook sheet? Well, it's reusable, durable, dry-erase flipchart paper. Woohoo!

We secure these to a board, tape to a wall, or lay down in the middle of a group or table. They have several other Wipebook products (including mini-chart paper) to explore as well.

I have never sponsored or endorsed a product on my blog before today...and you should know I was the one to reach out to Wipebook to ask if I could share about them on my blog. I see the potential in group thinking and problem-solving by using these as VNPS--and so of course I want to share.

To register to win your own set of Wipebook flip chart sheets, enter the raffle! If you are selected, Wipebook will send you a set of 10 sheets directly to your school. You can also apply to do your own giveaway if you're leading a professional development session this summer/fall.

Good luck!

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