This spring the D39 Educational Foundation awarded a Gripp Grant totaling $6,704 to Highcrest Middle School math teachers. This Gripp Grant will provide innovative educational opportunities for our 5th and 6th grade students in D39.
The grant will fund the purchase of 16 double-sided porcelain magnetic mobile white boards to be used in the math classrooms for implementing an innovative teaching strategy, Building Thinking Classrooms. D39 math teachers have been engaged in a book study of Building Thinking Classrooms and are excited to be able to implement this approach to teaching in their classrooms.
Through 15 years of research, Peter Liljedahl, author of the book on which the teaching methodology is based, figured out how to get more students thinking in a math class for a longer period of time. His research indicated that students working in random groups at a vertical, non-permanent surface (i.e. white board) yielded the highest number of minutes of student engagement. He found that students are more likely to feel anonymous and disengage in the classic classroom scenario, in which students are sitting at their desks and teachers are lecturing from the front of the classroom. But by asking students to stand and work, it allows teachers to see how far each group has progressed on the problem. Students feel less pressure to be perfect in their work as they can easily erase their work on the white board and try a new strategy. It also allows teachers to gather formative assessment data and provide immediate feedback to the students.
By implementing this teaching strategy, the HMS math teachers will create classrooms of students working together in small random groups on vertical, non-permanent surfaces which will transform learning spaces into active thinking spaces – a win for our D39 students! Congratulations to Becky Bartsch and Anne Jacobs, HMS math teachers.