Teacher applies ‘Thinking Classroom’ method to help students learn math

Apr 18, 2024, 3:06 PM | Updated: 5:28 pm

OREM — Some students struggle more with math than others, but one Utah teacher uses a unique method that allows her whole classroom to succeed.

Laura Chipman said there’s no fancy, expensive curriculum involved, just a simple concept that starts with a whiteboard.

“There was a day when we were doing our math lesson as I had always done it. And I kind of looked out, and I saw some glazed faces,” said Chipman, a second-grade teacher at Bonneville Elementary.

So, she’s decided to get them on their feet and pull out whiteboards. She said it’s a unique method called “Thinking Classroom.”

“I was introduced to a book that walked me a little bit through this process,” Chipman said.

Two of the second-graders working together on a math problem.

Two of the second-graders working together on a math problem. (KSL TV)

Her students work in small groups, away from their desks, which engages more active learning.

“So this process is thinking about their thinking,” she said.

Chipman gives students hints about how to solve problems, but they must come up with their own solutions as a group.

“So that those kids learn how to talk to each other, how to work with each other,” she said.

Chipman helping her students with a math problem.

Chipman helping her students with a math problem. (KSL TV)

The students work on whiteboards to write down their mistakes, erase them quickly, and move on to another solution.

“But also it allows them to take risks and to think about their learning, but not worry so much about did I get it right?” Chipman said.

Students take the lead in their learning, but Chipman is there to follow up, reinforce, and cheer them on.

“It’s been really amazing, because I’ve noticed that even kids who have to adjust their thinking or might need reteaching, they pick it up a lot quicker,” she said.

Chipman knows several teachers who have been doing it much longer than she has. She hopes they will give it a shot as well.

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Teacher applies ‘Thinking Classroom’ method to help students learn math