I work in a small school, one of many small schools dotted around Australia. Accordingly my professional connections are limited to a small cohort of teachers at my school and my PLN within the wider community. Now since I am active in a number of online networks, most notable twitter, my PLN or Personal Learning Network, is quite wide these days. I learn new things, pick up new tips and grab ideas daily. I then take them into my classroom and school. As I have blogged before, it really doesn’t take much time to keep connected. There are many days I can only spare a few moments, on some none at all. Yet whenever I do, I learn.
So please keep that in mind, while I admit which tool is proving a hit in my classroom this term. I am almost embarrassed to say that I can’t believe I never thought of buying these myself before. What are they, I hear you say? They are personal, portable whiteboards for every student. or as I have heard them say, ‘our own interactive whiteboards’.
I can’t believe my school never had a class set in every room before now, but we didn’t, until I saw this video last holidays. Why did I see that particular video? Well like many others I followed the edublogs awards and so I read this post which won Frank Noschese the edublogs, most influencial blog post award of 2011, for his post ‘The $2 whiteboard’.
So having seen the video and having got the idea, the first thing I did this year was to order a class set of whiteboards for every class at my school. I did try also, to get my large floor length windows painted in whiteboard paint but at the moment that idea is falling into the too hard basket.
So why are the student whiteboards such a hit? Well so far every time we get them out, the students are excited to have a go. They wil have a go at maths problem solving. They will have a go at quick quizzes. They will have a go at sharing ideas. They will have a go at brainstorming ideas. They will have a go at spelling words and by that I mean they all have a go. Yes, all of them. So it does not matter who knows the answers and who does not, with a whiteboard in their hands they will all give the task their best shot.
I think it has something to do with the ability to quickly rub answers, thoughts and words out, which cannot be done on paper. So even if they are unsure having a go will not matter, will not brand them a failure, no one else will really notice. Yet for me, a quick glance around the room at their answers keeps me informed. I can see at a glance who understands, who knows, who is unsure, who is copying, who has no idea and who is doodling. As yes, the chance to doodle is definitely there, after all we are talking about ten year olds here!
An example of my maths group creating their own problems can be seen in this photopeach. As you read the problems you will note some are simple, others impossible. Yet the willingness to give it a go and to attempt to solve each others problems was alive and well in the classroom that day.
Real life Problem Solving on PhotoPeach