There is Still Some Love for the Forgotten Class Whiteboard

I’ve inherited a class that does not have a whiteboard. Well actually it does, but it is covered up by a Smart Board. It seems that my school was so excited to install brand new Smart Boards (interactive whiteboards) that they set it up directly on the existing board. They were so keen to set up the Smart Boards it didn’t even occur to them to take down the whiteboards first!

As much as I love my Smart Board, I find it much easier to write and present maths problems on a traditional whiteboard.

So I got my school to order one for me. Last December ….

And it only arrived today!

Meanwhile, my Smart Board died two weeks ago. The projector just decided it couldn’t facilitate any longer (I hope it didn’t have anything to do with my ghastly interactive whiteboard handwriting). A teacher without a whiteboard is like a carpenter without a drill. It is a huge challenge to teach without a board. A challenge that has proved frustrating and in a sense, quite revealing.

It has taught me that no matter how incredible modern technology has become. No matter how much education has been transformed because of touch screens, blogs, the internet, YouTube, Wikipedia etc. Nothing can replace the simple whiteboard!

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4 Responses to “There is Still Some Love for the Forgotten Class Whiteboard”

  1. studentsathome Says:

    I love my whiteboard! We use it for math, phonics, art and even cooking. I would be lost without it.

  2. thatwritinglady Says:

    I know! I love my whiteboards–it’s so funny, but there is nothing as thrilling for a student as being allowed to take one of those big fat markers and write something up on the board for everyone to see…

  3. John Tapscott Says:

    Interactive whiteboards! They are fantastic. However, it is lamentable that very few teachers, these days, seem capable of producing a well prepared chalkboard. Old technology? In many classrooms where I work as a casual teacher the chalkboard and the whiteboard are usually covered in disconnected, unrelated writing, the odd impromptu drawing and bits and pieces of scribble, some of which has been put there by students. The students exercise books are often a faithful representation of this kind of random recording in, often, atrocious handwriting and freehand lines.

    In the early days of my career I would spend an hour or more at the beginning of the day preparing my chalkboard. Part of the reason for this was to model for the students a standard of neatness and handwriting expected in their notebooks. I used the chalkboard to demonstrate the use of things like compasses and setsquares, recording notes in an orderly fashion, and the construction of illustrations and diagrams.

    Of course all this and more may be done using an interactive whiteboard but as a student at Teachers College, I was taught the use of the chalkboard. I am not sure that the same care is taken over the training, at Universities, of students in the use of interactive whiteboards.

    In some schools I visit excellent use is made of smart boards as the school authorities have taken a great deal of care in training their staff in how to use them, but this is not universal.

    I remember visiting a year 9 science class to do some observation, prior to a behaviour intervention. The teacher had gone to the trouble of recording notes for the students on an overhead transparency, which he then projected on to a screen for the students to copy. This exercise took the entire period. It seemed the students’ behaviour was so bad that he daren’t attempt doing practical work with them, which is what he told me when I asked him if it wouldn’t be easier to photocopy the notes for his class and, instead of doing handwriting exercises, actually do some science in a practical sense.

    Recently I was relieving in a grade 12 Agricultural Science class which was studying vegetative plant propagation (as distinct from using seeds). What the teacher left me was 3 or 4 sheets of notes for each student with a set of questions for them to answer – a comprehension exercise!

    The students were anything but enthusiastic. I discovered that this class, too, did very little practical work, for the same reasons as the above class.

    Contrast these cases with a science teacher in another school where I was the teacher in charge of the special class for students with behaviour problems. The first time I sent them to his class I decided to go with them (my free period) in case they gave this teacher any trouble. Immediately they arrived the teacher swung into action, organising them to conduct an experiment to produce and light acetyline gas. Well he had these boys engaged right from the start. When it came time to write up the notes (which were modelled on the chalkboard) for the experiment the boys understood the purpose and set about the task with little delay.

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