Whether you have a connected or non-connected classroom, the tool that is commonly seen in every lesson is the whiteboard. The whiteboard is a wonderful and often under-respected tool, but provides so much opportunity to share ideas, illustrate context and offers learners a chance to brainstorm vocabulary. When I started teaching, I used the whiteboard to just write down key vocabulary and draw timelines but there is so much which could be exploited with this simple tool. However, I was not given much training or advice on exploiting this respectful tool. At times, I have seen whiteboards awash with so much language scattered around it looks like the teacher has literally thrown a book at it and hope the words stick. Other lessons I have observed, the teacher has carefully drawn images, as well as broken down sections for key vocabulary and/or lesson aims. Here are a selection of photos illustrating whiteboards at my school.
|Making use of margins and images with the whiteboard.|
The whiteboard above demonstrates that margins could be created to illustrate lesson aims (something which is starting to become more and more important due to continuous accreditation in the UK). I suppose one thing that could be improved with this whiteboard is that the left margin is not necessarily used as planned. I was hoping to use the left margin to write down vocabulary but ended up teaching ad hoc – Dogme-esque – and focusing on various vocabulary associated with facial hair and jewellery. Pronunciation was highlighted between ‘bucket’ and ‘bouquet’. Any guess on the nationalities which were present in the room?
|The early days of the whiteboard in my teaching career.|
With this whiteboard image from 2010, I was trying to get learners to use the whiteboard as much as I could. I was using an infographic image for a reading relay. Students had to run around to the questions, dictate these to their partner then look for the correct information before looking for other questions. It was a fun and enjoyable activity for the adolescent learners. To review answers, I wrote up the questions on the board – one at a time – then learners nominated themselves to answer. All good fun. So why not get your learners up and off their seats to write on the whiteboard?
|My students decided to add some of their creativity.|
A spin off the previous whiteboard, with learners writing the answers to a reading activity on the whiteboard, you could encourage learners to come up to the whiteboard and draw. I was teaching Spanish learners a number of years ago and they decided to draw a funny little character on the whiteboard during the break.
|From another teacher’s whiteboard from years ago.|
I love to ask teachers to keep up their work on the whiteboard so that I can see what their lesson was about and how they went about it. From looking at this whiteboard, I can see that the teacher was focusing on modality and comparatives: “I may be (adj.), but at least …”. Also looking at other teachers whiteboards, you can reflect on how you would improve the lesson and how you would also improve on demonstrating the work to learners. So next time, you have a rant at a fellow teacher about them keeping their work up on the board, why not put a sock in it and have a look at the whiteboard, take a photo and create a lesson from it? It is so much more rewarding.
|A CLIL-based lesson on Global Warming from 2010.|
|Focusing on emergent language with an adult class.|
|Finally nailed it – I have a grammar and vocabulary margin.|