Teaching Tools: 7 Ways to use Individual Student Whiteboards

This is the first post in the Teaching Tools You Gotta Have series. I plan to discuss a different teaching tool each week! Generally, these will be inexpensive, yet highly useful. So, be sure and check them all out!

With individual student whiteboards you can save paper, make learning fun, and keep your whole class engaged all at the same time. There are many uses for these handy boards! If you don't already have a class set, you don't have to spend a ton of money to get one. The material is inexpensive and available at your local hardware store, and most stores will cut it for free. 12x12 seems to work well for most classrooms, but you can have it cut to whatever size you want.

Once you have your boards, you will need to decide whether you want students to keep them in their desks or if you'd rather keep them in a central location and distribute as needed. I prefer the latter as I think it keeps the boards in better shape. A good way to get dry-erase pens is to have students bring them at the start of the school year with their school supplies. A clean, white sock makes a good eraser.

Now that you have your boards, here are some ideas on how to use them:

To Display Answers 
Students can easily write short answers on their boards and then hold them up for you to quickly scan and check. Consider using for mental math problems, spelling, or review of pretty much any subject.

In Partners
Students can practice spelling words in partners with one partner giving the word and the other writing it on their white board. They could also use the board to keep score when playing a game.

For Handwriting Practice
Using a whiteboard is a good place to start just to get the motion of the letter down. Of course, it is different than writing on paper and you will need to do some of that too, but it can be a fun, first step.

Instead of Scratch Paper
Save paper by having students use whiteboards as scratch paper whenever they will not need to save their work.

Instead of Clipboards
Great for when students are moving around the classroom to collect data that they will not need to keep permanently. Also good for times when students are sitting on the carpet for instruction rather than at their desks.

As a Quick Mood Gauge
Ever feel like your class is just off, but you can't quite put your finger on it? Try having your students each draw a quick face on their boards - either a smiley face, a sad face or a neutral (straight line for the mouth). It gives you a quick read and may possibly lead to a class discussion about what is going on.

For Indoor Recess and other Free Times
Great for games like hangman or just for drawing. Kids love to use these during their free time.

Do you use individual student white boards in your classroom? Please share your ideas!

Next Week: Name Sticks!


teaching2learn said...

Thank you for posting this. I had not even considered some of your suggested uses for whiteboards. I just posted a blog entry on making thrifty whiteboards and linked to your site. What a fantastic resource for teachers!

Mrs. E's Grade 3's said...

Last year I bought clipboards for each student at the dollar store. I covered each with whiteboard mactac from Scholar's Choice. The students kept their clipboard/whiteboard in their book boxes along with a sock for cleaning their whiteboards. They kept their whiteboard marker in their sock - idea from the 2 Sisters website- Daily Five. We used the whiteboards a lot for "Show What You Know" time, especially for math.

Beth Carlisle said...

I have had my white boards for 11years. Shower board cut to 12x12 squares. I spent less than $10 for 24 boards...best investment ever! I use black or navy socks because they don't show the dry erase dust. For easy distribution, markers can be placed inside the socks!

Lorri said...

White boards are one thing I won't teach without! I use them for everything from math practice to spelling games! The best thing for me is because I immediately see what each child is thinking in one glance! Better than grading a paper any day!I use part of my school supply money to purchase at least 10 new boards every year and although we require students to bring markers...I buy them almost every trip to any store I can find them in.

Anonymous said...

I love white boards! Especially for carpet time! I have students hold up a smiley, straight face, or wiggly mouth for understanding near end of lesson. After the lesson, I always know which students to pull to the back table for extra help , while others start independent work. This has really been a behavior fix for brighter, faster students. Thanks for posting this.

bryan flake said...

That is such a great idea to have personal white boards. When I was a kid, we didn't even have a personal chalk board. That could have made school more fun to have my own board to write on. Maybe my soon to be kindergartner will have one this fall when school resumes.

bryan flake said...

I am old enough that I remember this personal board system with chalkboards. This person whiteboard could help my kids this summer with summer school studies. I've two young ones that need a bit of extra academic help this summer.

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