Using Whiteboards in Math

What’s a technology integration blog writing about whiteboards for? Because students love them and continually ask to use them. It’s about looking for effective ways to engage students in math and tech is not always the answer. The idea for writing this post came from Bowman’s (@bowmanimal) blog, plus I wanted to join in on the #MyFavFriday posts. You can read some benefits and concerns about whiteboarding on his blog. Below, I will discuss how we use them in class.







White Board Practice

There have always been a couple students that would walk in and repeat the same statement everyday, “Do we get to use whiteboards?!” This enthusiasm held me accountable throughout the year, as I always was told how long it was since the last time we used them. Soon, I started posting a blinking whiteboard on our math warm up slide, so that students were always signaled at the start of the period.

Using whiteboards for practice is an effective way of checking the math process of your students. They can quietly hold up their board when finished and look for a signal on whether they need to fix something or share with a partner. Do not have them share too quickly, otherwise students simply copy.

They were also instrumental for those students who wanted a challenge. For each set of practice problems, there were always challenge questions. If a student felt confident on how they solved the first problem, they could jump to the challenge questions. They didn’t have to wait or ask, because I would see their work easily on the whiteboard.

Whiteboard Competition

Math Jeopardy! This only shows up about three or four times a year, but it is always a great review activity with full engagement (most of the time). The rules are simple: 1) Each member of your team must show all the work. 2) No talking allowed (this will give answers away, but you can whisper if you must). 3) The team with four whiteboards raised in the air with the correct answer, first, wins the round.

Table Wars! This is where table groups (4 at a group) compete against each other, two on two. 1) Choose any practice question from HW last night and write it on the whiteboard. 2) Trade the board with the partners across from you. 3) Be the first pair to solve the problem. The reason I love this one is that students pick the hardest questions for each other…I don’t have to be the mean math teacher! 🙂

Whiteboard Modeling / Teaching

Just as you would think from the title. Students pair up and “teach” through a problem by using proper math language and solving strategies. This opens up the door for me to hear how they think, and also lets other students know there is more than one way to solve a problem (usually).

Whiteboard Review

Pack as much information about a topic as you can on the mini whiteboard. Then we set up the whiteboards around the room and do a walk through. Students pick their favorite ‘items’ to record in their notebook. It is a good way to also see who uses examples to review and who simply thinks about the math facts and definitions.

Technology integration idea (yes, I couldn’t write this without one. It’s how the mind works). Once we get out iPad set this year, in October, I will use this review technique and have students take a photo of each board. Those will then be linked to their class website and/or digital portfolios. I do not see my students going home with their notebooks to review, that much. But possibly with the idea of being able to look at photos they took…maybe…worth a try.

You can view more #MyFavFriday blog posts here. I saw this post about whiteboard tips and was reminded of my ever disappearing dry erase markers. Ah!! As far as erasers, I am still going through a large set of cut up t-shirts that a parent donated during my first year of teaching. They work great!

2 thoughts on “Using Whiteboards in Math

  1. LOVE the blinking whiteboard on the wu slide AND homework problem wars! Awesome.

    For your around the room activity, do they write the boards? What are the instructions you give them? Do you assign them topics? Do they work together? I really like this too. I need new whiteboard activities!

    Also, check out Bowman, he wrote two whiteboard posts today. Blog jinx!

    Julie Reulbach

    • Yes, they fill out the boards on their own for the walk around activity. Instructions vary. Example: Once finished with our fractions unit, they might divide their board into 4 sections and fill in each space with notes/examples that help them when working with fractions and the four basic operations.
      So far, the activity has been individual. I wish I had bigger whiteboards that an entire group could write on simultaneously. But I could still use groups with one writer.
      Yes, Bowman’s first whiteboard article today was what spurred me on to reflect on this. He is linked in the first paragraph.

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