Using White Boards: Fun Ideas for Reading and Language Arts
written by: Trent Lorcher
• edited by: Wendy Finn
• updated: 1/17/2012
Every three or four years I clean out a cabinet or two in my classroom. Once, I found some items that revolutionized the way I teach. I found fun learning disguised as 35 individual-sized white boards. It has proved more useful than an entire book of fun lesson plans - here's how I use them.
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Change Your Life
I soon discovered that the white boards made good frisbees and could slice the head off a cat from 25 feet. A month later, I snuck in the supply room during a fire drill, snagged a couple cases of white board markers, a box of tissues, and some board cleaner. Two days later, my class transformed from a tooth-pulling, carrot bleeding den of boredom to a veritable learning extravaganza, and once your classroom becomes a learning extravaganza, there's no going back.
Remember that part about slicing a cat's head off from 25 feet? Keep that in mind before distributing the boards. Learning is fun. Lawsuits are not.
Give each student a board, a marker, and an eraser. If you have a carpeted floor, you have a big eraser already.
Do not give out the markers until you tell them not to write on the board yet.
Make friends with your supply clerk.
The throw the marker to the student method of distribution keeps students alert and on the lookout for a good lawyer.
Don't ever give students permission to throw markers at you.
Fun learning will ensue, so get ready for accolades and compliments.
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Agree or Disagree: Read opinion statements and instruct each student that agrees to write '+' and each student that disagrees to write '-'. This allows every student to participate at the same time without the risk normally associated with giving an answer. This activity works well with Social Studies, Current Events, or Literature. Variations include rate something on a scale from 1-10, or multiple choice questions.
Literature Discussion: From time to time, have students write down answers to discussion questions or predictions about what might happen next in a story. Get creative and have students write down a sentence about their favorite character or what they would do in a similar situation. Drawing a scene, character, or event generates the most excitement, especially when there's a prize for the best one.
Review: Why students refuse to raise their hand during a test review, but hurriedly scribble down the answer on their own personal white board and race to hold it up first is beyond me
Warm up Activity: Students hem and haw when asked to take out supplies and get to work, yet they'll spend thoughtful minutes writing answers on a white board
Games: Putting students in groups and having them write their response on boards instead of shouting them out provides a learning atmosphere and encourages group participation
Voting: Students can vote on class awards, class work, or current issues confidentially.
Essay writing: I'm just kidding.
Next time your colleagues are looking for fun lesson plans for reading and language arts, throw them a white board instead.