Whiteboarding in the Classroom
This past June, I had the opportunity to attend The Flip Network Conference in Kelowna, BC. Here, I met an amazing group of teachers who have been transforming their practice into a more constructivist, student-centered, active learning approach. One of the biggest “take-aways” from this conference was the whiteboarding session.
What is Whiteboarding?
Whiteboarding is when student work inside the classroom is facilitated by the use of student/group whiteboards. Worksheets are replaced with sheets of plexi-glass, which are written on using dry-erase markers. Students of all ages and ability levels are able to comfortably engage in group and individual activities in an active and creative manner.
Whiteboarding is a great tool to add to a teacher’s toolkit. There are several key advantages to this resource:
- Kids can contribute, knowing that if they make a mistake, it can be erased – work is not permanent, rather evolving.
- Whiteboarding promotes collaboration amongst students and encourages group work. The ideal group size is 4, but groups of 6 can be effective as well.
- Whiteboarding replaces the need for paper copies of assignments. Students can complete an activity on the board and take a photograph of the finished project as an artifact for future reference.
- In a whiteboarding lesson, the role of the teacher moves from instructor to facilitator, creating a student-centered learning environment.
- Kids love them! Give them 2 – 3 minutes to doodle at the beginning of the lesson and they will be hooked!
What is involved with set-up?
Plexi-glass is readily available through many major distributors. Our school purchased through Industrial Paints & Plastics, which provided a discount for schools. The opaque plexi-glass is the recommended product, so the whiteboards are white. Each sheet is roughly around $175.00, but when divided into 6 pieces, it makes the price – in my opinion – worthwhile. There is an additional fee to cut the plastic, but if you ask your industrial arts department, they just may do this for you. However, I would recommend paying the additional fee to make the transport of the materials easier.
Additionally, you will need some pencil cases, dry-erase markers, and erasers for each of the whiteboards. I recommend by hard plastic cases for durability. Also, when setting these up, be sure to include different coloured markers in each container, so it is easy to identify who is contributing to the activities. Last, be sure to purchase whiteboard cleaner, as they will need a good clean form time-to-time.
Below if a sample of an activity in my classroom and the student response. I encourage everyone to try this new tool.