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Some whiteboards

My handwriting isn't very neat, but I use a dry wipe whiteboard in lessons. I take snaps of whiteboards on my phone just as a reminder about what was covered in the lesson. Students have started using their camera phones as well.

The whiteboard gets used for various purposes. I'm trying to talk less and encourage students to do more maths in the lessons, but some exposition is essential. You can collect data from group work on a whiteboard, and students can rearrange sticky notes into categories. The ideal situation is where there is a projector and screen (possibly an interactive whiteboard itself) for exposition and interactivity and a second dry wipe board for side notes somewhere else in the classroom. That second whiteboard allows summaries and lists to be built up throughout the lesson. Camera phones make recording what we have built easy.

Below are some samples of whiteboards from the last couple of teaching years. I told you my handwriting isn't good!

Whiteboard showing summary of lesson with material on circles, prisms and cylinders

On the right of the board above is a summary of the lesson. I cross topics off as we cover them. Any topics left at the end we agree to cover in the next lesson. On the left of the whiteboard is a topic summary in response to a question.

Whiteboard showing exam dates

Having both a projector with a presentation and a whiteboard means you can leave important dates and other course administration stuff up for students to see for the whole lesson.

Whiteboard showing completed histogram

I just had an improvised whiteboard for a smaller group. We covered histograms using a 'simon says' build on the Whiteboard. They drew their histograms with rulers and sharp pencils on graph paper!

Whiteboard showing tally chart of total score when rolling two dice

Rolling two dice: each has a plastic cup with two dice of contrasting colour. Rolls were added and the totals tallied. I did the tally chart for this small group, and students noticed the increased frequency for scores in the middle of the range. The B and Y columns on the right hand side of the whiteboard show why you might expect the frequency to be low for extreme scores and higher for scores in the middle of the range. After the data had been recorded my phone camera, I cleaned the whiteboard and worked through the sample space diagram for rolling two dice. An approach to inductive learning in Maths.

Whiteboard showing sticky notes with algebraic terms as categorised by students

A roll of plastic whiteboard means that I can put whiteboards all along the side wall of a classroom. Students can work quickly in 'buzz groups' to sort sticky notes by category. I can see (quickly) what issues I need to address. Many students repeating maths GCSE never really got the hang of algebra. I don't have that many lessons to spend on the topic (1200 hours of maths lessons in school, we get 90 hours in a one year College course). I need to work with what the students have already, that constructivist thing.

Whiteboard showing a short list of topics to be found in Unit 1 of AQA GCSE Maths

"What do we have to know for the exam" is a common question this time of year (June). My standard answer is that Maths GCSE exams cover the whole syllabus. There will be part of a question about every topic. The exam boards do make check lists available and I have these but they are often very long (17 pages!) and very detailed and tend to frighten students! Building up a quick list like this during a break time seems to help students see what to work on. I then start drip-feeding the idea of buying a revision guide or using the Centre's MyMaths subscription more often.

Whiteboard with a basic mind map or spider diagram of Unit 1 topics

About one in three students seem to respond to a mind-map or spider diagram approach to showing the links between topics. I do mini-maps like this one to round off a set of lessons. I try to put related bubbles from different parents close to each other (e.g. BIDMAS and Powers/Roots in Number need to be close to Substituting in Algebra) so as to convey relatedness. Otherwise with a strict hierarchy you might as well do bullet point topic lists.

Keith Burnett, Last update: Mon Jun 03 2013