Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I love whiteboards....interactive, really doesn't matter.  What is it about whiteboards that makes them so intriguing?

Individual white boards (the physical pieces of board students hold and write on with dry erase markers) - the best low- (really non-) technical items in my classroom.  Every student is engaged and working when they have the white boards in their hands.  (Except for the student drawing stick figures, but we are working on that).  Visually, I can easily see their work as I walk around the they understand the steps to find the median of a data set?  Can they solve for x in a one step equation?  I can see it in real time, and suggestion corrections if necessary.   This week some of my students got creative and started writing the final answer in words ("seven" instead of "7") or writing the numbers backwards or in mirror form - very clever!

Another great idea that is low tech, but involves bigger whiteboards, is found in a college classroom. My colleague Carol M. is an associate professor of statistics at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and her students work in cooperative learning groups on large whiteboards around the perimeter of the classroom.  Some of her students are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and some are hearing, and the white boards provide communication access for everyone.  Have a look here for more specifics on how her students work successfully to learn statistics on whiteboards.

Of course, on the technological side, I also love my ActivBoard - an interactive whiteboard that hooks up to the laptop and projector.  I use flipcharts I have made on the accompanying software, or flipcharts I can download from the website

One more kind of interactive whiteboard - my favorite app this year is "Explain Everything."  This is an app for the iPad that allows you to write math equations with steps (or whatever you want to write) along with video or photos to enhance the explanation.  The students enjoy the creativity in this kind of work, and it gives me a clear picture of whether they understand the concept at hand or not.  To see a student example of using the app "Explain Everything" click here. (Challenge:  find the mistake in the ASL, related to division :)

So, whiteboards abound!  Find one and try it out today...whatever your level of technological expertise!


  1. Dawn, I LOVE reading your blog and couldn't agree with you more about the use of individual dry erase boards as student response "systems". This totally increases engagement, as all students get to answer the problems simultaneously (if you're conducting a group activity) as opposed to one person coming to the front of the room to solve the problem while the other 9 or so students patiently (?) wait their turn! I have often found that students are less intimidated to TRY solving more challenging problems when using a dry erase board because it's easier to erase if they need to rework something.

    The ActivBoard flipcharts are nice because you can organize problems in advance and move from one page to the next with ease. Then, at the end, you can email students a PDF of the flipchart so that they have "notes" for reference.

    Thank you for sharing your student's example of "Explain Everything". It's great to see that they can explain things in writing and ASL using this app.

    Looking forward to your next post...and seeing more of your students in action! :)

    ~ Joey Vaughan

    1. You are so right about the issue of engagement, and also the issue of students attempting harder problems when they have the "privacy" of their own white board to experiment with. Thanks for your comments :)