Marker Magic – Practice @ The Board

Trying to get back into blogging now that grad school is completely over and I don’t feel like every minute of my life has to be scheduled!

Going off of the MTBOS 2017 Blogging Initiative and talking about a “My Favorite”… the first thing that came to mind is my favorite way to get students up and practicing. Their are days where I just need students to practice some skill (solving inequalities before break comes to mind) and I need to know how they are doing. Their are lots of ways to get this done but one way my students enjoy (and by enjoy I mean they don’t complain and will do it for a reasonably amount of time before they get bored) is standing at the whiteboard. Not just one or two of them, but all of them at the board at once. Thankfully, my rooms have three walls of whiteboards so I can fit a bunch of kids nicely. (In my larger classes I give some of them mini whiteboards and then trade off who is sitting and who is standing).

I usually prepare a bunch of problems ahead of time with their answers on a piece of paper (though I have just made them up off the top of my head before) and I read the first problem out. They all write it down and then begin working. I stand in the middle of the room and get to watch it unfold and see who is struggling immediately and who is flying through the problem. I encourage students standing next to each other to assist as if they were sitting and working together in their groups.  It is a great way for me to see a snapshot of everyone’s abilities. Then, we repeat with another problem. A cool thing I learned throughout the years doing this is that when I say something out loud, students actually have to know how to write it correctly and helps with understanding (less than, log base 2, etc.)

To make my life easier, I always have markers and little erasers sitting around the room before class so we can grab them ahead of time. I also only have the standard color markers (blue, red, black, green) for students to use and use a purple or orange marker for myself in case I need to write something down to show a student something.

It is surprising to me that once a student gets out of their seat and everyone is at the board, they are more willing to try and work on something instead of just another problem on a worksheet. This works especially for my lower-level students. Try it and see how it is different than just using mini-whiteboards!