Sunday, February 15, 2015

How to Effectively use Individual Whiteboards

Individual whiteboards are a classroom necessity. When we are using them as a whole group I can quickly assess any skill: phonics, sight words, number identification, addition...you name it!
Unlike a worksheet, we can work on a skill for a short amount of time without there being a stack of worksheets in the "finish later" pile. I can adjust the activity to fit my time frame.

Here are some tricks I've learned to manage and maximize individual whiteboard use.

1. Put the dry erase markers in socks. Students take a sock and the color is a "surprise". No more arguing or wasting time over rummaging for which color they want. The sock doubles as an eraser too!

I purchased socks at the dollar store. Next time I will buy black socks so they don't look so dirty.
2. When students get a whiteboard I always give them a challenge so they are not just sitting and waiting to start: "After you get a whiteboard and marker, see if you can print to 20 before it's time to start." Once everyone has their supplies it's time to wipe our boards and listen for directions.

3. I always keep a tally chart. "Teacher versus Students" The goal is that they will earn more points than me when doing the activity. They earn points by listening, doing their best work, and answering correctly. I earn points if they do the opposite....oh, and if they blurt! It only takes one point on my chart to silence the blurting. It's like magic!

Game on!

4. Today I used white boards to assess skip counting. I'd say "Write the missing number when I skip count by 10s: 10, 20, 30, 40, ___, 60, ..." They quickly write down the missing number while I walk around and give prompts to students who may be struggling. When I call "Boards up!" They flip and lift their boards so I can see their answers. (If there are incorrect answers, I will give 1 point for trying and then give them a clue to fix it for a second point.)

"Boards up!"

5. If they earn more points than me... (which is almost always)... they can earn 3-5 minutes of free draw time on their whiteboards. This is a HUGE motivator for them to "win".
Earning points for "free draw"

Words of Wisdom: It's important to state your expectations at the beginning of any activity. We discuss that this activity is not a time to do "your own plan". You can draw and do what you want to do on the whiteboards if/when the class earns free draw time at the end.
Every once in a while I will notice a student holding the board at a higher angle than usual... and they have that all too familiar "guilty face". Hmm! If they are doodling....or drawing on the rug....I calmly take away the whiteboard and give them a "boring" piece of paper and pencil to use for the remainder of the activity. Students quickly catch on that they benefit by following the procedures.

What are some of your tricks for using individual whiteboards?

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