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  • Chestermere teacher changing the way students are learning 

    Landry Forand is implementing the 14 practices of a thinking classroom to his classroom

    Chestermere Lake Middle School mathematics teacher Landry Forand is changing the way students learn math by building a thinking classroom.

    During Forand’s time teaching at Chestermere Lake Middle School, he has been introducing research from Peter Liljedahl, who came up with 14 steps to build a thinking classroom.

    “When we came back this year, I wanted to use 100 per cent of my time implementing all 14 practices of a thinking classroom,” Forand said.

    “The results have been significant, and the students are really enjoying it, I’m really enjoying it, it’s a mathematical infection in our school,” he said.

    In a thinking classroom, students are learning standing up, using a whiteboard or windows to write, and working in randomized groups of three using one marker.

    The teacher uses a red colour marker, which gives hints and direction for the class to see and allows differentiation between the students and teachers work.

    “The students are up and about working and collaborating. Groups naturally go to each other and introduce concepts. There are a lot of visuals as students start to solve problems,” Forand said.

    The vertical spaces allow students to see what other groups are doing and learn there are many different mediums to a solution.

    “In a thinking classroom, there are 100 ways to do it, and 14 ways to do it right,” Forand said.

    In a thinking classroom, students learn how to work with everyone in their class, and it breaks down the social barriers that happen in classrooms.

    “We have a de-fronted classroom, the entire space is the front of all the lessons, it creates equity in the classroom, everyone has the same access to the learning,” Forand said.

    At the beginning of the lesson, Forand will give students a thinking task that is highly engaging and create an atmosphere where mistakes are welcomed.

    “You want their brains to be operating as much as possible, and communicating with each other as much as possible,” Forand said.

    Adding, “I want to show an open middle style problem where there are many ways to solve it, and one answer, and I want to see all the different ways students could solve it.”

    At the end of the lesson, students are given individual time to work independently.

    “Students are processing and thinking, and that’s what really matters, there’s no push or race to get to the end answer. The learning is the incentive,” Forand said.

    “It takes about two weeks before the thinking classroom runs smoothly, after that I can put any teacher in that room and the kids can take over,” he said.

    Rocky View School Ward 1 Trustee Shali Baziuk believes that students in a thinking classroom are not just learning math, but learning collaboration, public speaking, and confidence.

    “I see so many wins here, and so many opportunities for kids to learn, share and collaborate. It’s exactly how I would have loved to learn,” Baziuk said. 

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