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The Case for Individual Classroom Whiteboards

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

Why is writing on a whiteboard at your desk so much more fun than a pencil and paper?


Is it the colors? The way the ink flows? Is it that you can write bigger? The fact that you can easily erase with your finger, a tissue, or a sock? Is it that it's just not pencil and paper?


Who knows, maybe it's all of the above.


Regardless, whiteboards are where it's at.


Anyone can use whiteboards in a classroom. But having procedures in place can immensely save some time and allow for more whiteboard time!


If my students were in groups or partner pods, I'd have the whiteboards stacked in the middle of the table beneath the supply caddy. In the supply caddy, there would be markers and erasers (and usually glue for interactive notebooks).


If I forgot to set up, I'd have our Paper Passer pass out the whiteboards or have the Material Manager at each group get the whiteboards and supply caddys for their groups from the counter. [check out: middle school classroom jobs and group roles ]


What's better than working on whiteboards? Whiteboards with a timer!


I love Google Slides and the fact that timers can easily be embedded in Slides is even better!


My Slides were the guide to my lessons - every day.


For whiteboard time (which was almost daily, if not at least 3x/week), I'd have a template ready to go for whiteboard time.


The first slide for whiteboard time was simply a Whiteboard Expectations slide. From August until June, we'd review:

Expectations - am I right? IYKYK


Once we were good to go, I'd put the first whiteboard problem up. Some days we only had a few whiteboard practice slides, other days it was the majority of the class.


Each whiteboard slide had room for the problem, the answer, the problem number, and a timer.



Timers are EVERYTHING.


Timers bring a sense of urgency. Timers help keep the class (and me!) on pace. And they can have fun music - which can be super catchy.


But wait! What if a student isn't finished when the timer goes off?


That's ok!


They can put up the work they have completed in the allotted time. (It can also help to periodically let students know how much time is left - 30 more seconds, 10 more seconds, 5-4-3-2-1, etc. while they're working on the problem). If you realize the entire class needs more time, simply reset the timer.


Once the timer goes off, I'd loudly say "BOARDS UP" and students would all echo "BOARDS UP" and lift their boards high into the air toward me. This allowed me to see all of their work and answers.


At the beginning of the year, we'd work a bit on keeping boards up until I tell them they can put them down. I wanted to make sure I was able to see everyone's work. Sometimes I'd have a chart on my clipboard to check off any student understandings.


Before moving on to the next problem, I'd have a student explain their work at the front board or with their whiteboard, other times we'd celebrate a student's mistake and work through a problem together. Perhaps it was a good moment for a turn and talk. If everyone got the problem correct, we might save time and quickly move on to the next problem.


Whiteboards allow students to receive immediate feedback. They know the answer as soon as the timer went off and the answer appeared on the slide. It also allowed me that immediate feedback as well. I was able to catch misunderstandings as they were happening, reteach them as necessary, and work one-on-one with students as needed during our timer time.


Maybe your school doesn't have the funds for individual personal whiteboards for each of your students. Maybe you fronted the money yourself and had them made at Home Depot and pleaded with the kind worker to please not charge you per cut because you're a teacher (guilty). Maybe you put paper in a page protector and used that as a whiteboard (also works super well for coordinate planes or work mats!). Or maybe you wrote a grant with Donor's Choose to get whiteboards for your students. Perhaps your district did purchase the whiteboards for you.


In whatever way works best for you, getting whiteboards (or make-shift whiteboards) into your students' hands can be a classroom-changing experience!



Photo credit: <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/little-girl-holding-white-board-white-t-shirt_9889780.htm#query=kids%20holding%20whiteboards&position=29&from_view=search&track=ais">Image by 8photo</a> on Freepik


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