Day 10: New (to me) Whiteboarding Mode

Thursday, September 20, 2018

When we ran out of time last class, I had students put their whiteboards away for us to review today. We’ve done a bunch of whole class board meetings where each group presents their board in turn. It was getting old. But I still wanted an efficient way for students to get and give feedback. That prompted me to modify the gallery walk format. I’ll definitely use this one again.

Biggest advantage: student whiteboards have to stand on their own without students explaining themselves.

This modified gallery walk works well late in a unit when students are basically deploying a complete model. It’s helpful that they basically understand how to do the problems and are merely doing practice.


Students studying another group’s whiteboard that illustrates energy flow for a mass on a spring.

In the picture above, these students are visiting another group’s whiteboard. They’re leaving feedback for the original board’s authors. Every few minutes, the groups rotate to the next whiteboard. Students were great at identifying something that needed addressing in the original work — missing energy storage modes, trends in ∆E that don’t match the scenario, and system boundary inconsistencies are some of the most common.

Later, the group who produced these diagrams revisited their board and took in the feedback. It was cool seeing the original group decide if the feedback they got was good, bad, or indifferent. For instance, the picture below shows a group responding to an incorrect conception from their classmates:


The entire class looks at feedback on one whiteboard.

The student holding the whiteboard is explaining how the commenter was forgetting that the air puck has a battery in it, therefore the puck has some amount of chemical energy stored. The commenter was only thinking of the chemical energy inside the body of the kicker, which is outside the system boundary. As soon as the commenter was reminded of the battery, I heard a number of students go “ohhhhh.”

As a first-year Modeling Instruction teacher, I’m struck by two observations about whiteboarding:

  • Variety is important so that students don’t tire (and get less out of) specific whiteboarding modes.
  • 9th graders can get fidgety with standing to display whiteboards. That wiggling makes it tough to observe. Now I see why so many of you are using whiteboard stands.

How do experienced whiteboarders keep board presentations from getting so repetitive? The whole class board meeting has kids tuning out or fidgeting while waving a whiteboard around — all while a great debate is happening between a few students over some detail on a board.


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