Whiteboarding and the student

Whiteboarding has been a great change in my classroom. Students fully adopted working on the whiteboards and I often find them independently gravitating towards their use. However, I am still a whiteboarding newbie. Discussions have increased and I’ve peered into the toolkit by trying out the Mistake Game but I’m struggling a little with finding the individual student. While students work, I roam around the class. Sometimes I simply listen, other times I ask for explanations or give pointed questions.

Yesterday, a zip-line company – Zippy Fun – requested their input on a proposed course. Their scaled down version ran 6 m with a vertical drop of 0.4 m. Groups were asked to report back to Zippy Fun with the velocity and acceleration at meter intervals over the course. The class buzzed as zip lines were strung across the room. My goal was to find the voices of the silent student. Each group of four typically had two students who often sit back and let others do the talking. I therefore specified the students who could explain the group’s process and answer questions regarding their actions. If those students could not, I left to return later after the group discussed the topic.

It was challenging for many students. The talkative ones squirmed to avoid blurting out. Some students had difficulty explaining and we worked through language. Other students really did not know what their group was doing. Requiring them to be the spokes-people caused conversations that might not have happened. Were more students engaged? I think so. Did more students walk away understanding the what their group was doing as data was collected? I hope so.

As with any class, time expired and students were left with a lot of work on their whiteboard. At least one member of each group possessed a phone to take photos and email me the whiteboards.


What now? I want to find out what each student can do with the data collected during the group phase. I want to find out which students are unsure these ideas.

So, here’s what I’m trying and any feedback is greatly appreciated. I have images of each whiteboard. I plan to print out an image for each person in the group and give them some time to check for legibility. Then, students will individually process the data by writing up what the group did, creating position vs time and velocity vs time graphs, etc. Students left class knowing that they would be expected to do this next class.



2 thoughts on “Whiteboarding and the student

    • So-so. I like the format of students taking a photograph of their data and using this image to write up their analysis. (It caused a bit more work for me in that I had to work up each data set :)) I also want to spend more time working to have students report data with a purpose however I think my questions were not directed enough. Student responses were a bit scattered. Thanks!

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