Sunday 31 October 2010


Sometimes it's about the low-tech stuff as much as the whistles and bells of web 2.0 and its associated benefits. Our department are all great fans of mini-whiteboards, and use them for a variety of activities.
  • Put the pupils into groups, each with a mini-whiteboard, then say a sentence in English. The first group to all write it out correctly gets the point. It will amaze you how long it takes them to all have the same thing written on their whiteboards
  • Do the same activity on an individual basis - possibly better for A level pupils
  • Practise verb conjugations, adjectival agreement, whatever grammar point you wish to reinforce
  • For vocabulary practice, say the word in the TL and the pupils need to draw something which represents the word
  • To practise numbers, call out a sum and the pupils write down the answer
  • Use the mini-whiteboards in carousel activities for Hangman or Pictionary
  • If you can afford it, invest in class sets of magnetic letters, and use them with magnetic mini-whiteboards - most of the games above can be played with the magnetic letters

In terms of practicalities, I would do the following:

  • ensure that you have enough mini-whiteboards for at least one between two
  • invest in a class set of whiteboard markers
  • Get board erasers. A cheaper version is to cut up sponges or dishcloths.
  • set ground rules, such as no writing messages to each other, or silly answers. Be firm the first few times, and they will soon learn that one moment's attention from the class is not worth doing exercises from a text book for the rest of the activity
  • Have a box to store the boards in, and get pupils in the habit of collecting and returning them quickly and without fuss

Playing with magnetic letters, my classes and I have evolved a set of rules which work well for us:

  • letters cannot be set out in alphabetical order or in groups of the same letter
  • they can be set out according to colour (apparently this helps the brain?)
  • First 3 individuals/groups to get the answer, win the point (points equal stars for the star chart in my classes)
  • If you win one go, you sit out the next (so winners don't discourage others)

Investing in mini-whiteboards and magnetic letters was one of the best decisions I ever made, and an investment which will stand me in good stead for years to come.


aliceayel said...

Yes, you're right Amanda mini-whiteboards are one of the best resources ever! You can make students write a lot, something they would never do with a normal pen and paper. I do a lot of translation activities as you mentioned in your post. I also give a word in TL such as "esta noche" or "porque" or "algo" and students have to write a sentence which makes sense. I also give the start or the end of a sentence and they have to finish or start it. You can end up with funny sentences at times! Thank you for sharing your ideas.

Barbara Rodriguez Montero said...

I also use the miniwhiteboards with directions. Once they know primera, segunda, tercera, izquierda, derecha, todo recto... they draw a little map and I give them directions and they have to draw where I am going