Screeeeeeeech! You may well remember this spine tingling sound from your youth. That distinctive chalk-gone-wrong sound from the blackboard. But today’s students, are accustomed to the smooth feel and sound of a whiteboard. Available in large sizes and small, stickers, and paint, the whiteboard now dominates our homes, schools and offices. A growing variety of brightly hued markers to compliment this mainstay further enhances the appeal in all markets. Even in today’s high-tech world, people continue to embrace this medium. Nowhere is this more visible than in the modern classroom where teachers post information, check for individual learning, and engage with students all using the whiteboard on a daily basis.
As teachers transitioned from chalkboard to whiteboard the marquee function of the whiteboard remained critical. The ability to disseminate information to students, whether lessons to be learned, homework to be completed, or dates to be remembered, this classroom billboard function continues to be a mainstay.
In addition to the dissemination purpose though, the mass production and widespread availability of smaller whiteboards make individual whiteboards a classroom staple. Teachers use white boards to check for student understanding and students use these individual boards to brainstorm ideas and solve problems. The act of simply writing or drawing information helps students process and retain knowledge better than simply listening or looking and the material, according to a New York Times article about the importance of writing.
After students process new information individually or in small groups, the classroom whiteboard becomes a gathering spot for whole group engagement. With the integration of newer technologies, this group activity can take many forms. Teachers know that students benefit from playing games in school, as summarized nicely in an article from LiveStrong.com. Whiteboards are great for simple review games that utilize a quiz format for key vocabulary or concepts. One of the welcomed improvements to the whiteboard over time was the creation of the magnetic board. This function opens the door for all sorts of engaging activities. Add the use of magnetic binder clips and information can be posted and rearranged to show ordering and relationships to create timelines or label diagrams. The most recent technological jump for the white board was the marriage of projector and board. First, the overhead projector with it’s acetate overlays and now, the computerized interactive projectors that allow teachers and students to write and draw on projected maps or diagrams. This integration truly secures the whiteboard’s status as a modern-day necessity in any classroom.
While the availability of technology for use by students and teachers has become almost universal in the United States, it will not replace the whiteboard in classrooms. Teachers not only use whiteboards to post information, but to check for student learning and to engage with their students’ daily.