Teaching Tips

What works and what doesn’t for Whiteboarding

As your students start whiteboarding during class, it is worthwhile establishing some rules, and providing guidelines to help them develop whiteboarding skills. Erekson suggests the following Dos and Don’ts:

Do Don’t
Include names of team members Include lengthy data tables
Place a title on the whiteboard Include extreme detail (e.g., into graphs)
Sketch the findings (e.g. graph of experimental results)  Add embellishments (borders, clip art, etc.)
State relationships (e.g., between experimental variables) Make it look cluttered
Write legibly and large enough so people in the back of the room can read it. Spend too much time making it look perfect

Dennis Nickelson’s Whiteboarding Rules

  1. You must make a commitment: Be willing to state your understanding, point of view, or belief. This means that you must think about the question (problem, issue) and defend your thinking.
  2. You can change your mind at any time. If you hear a logical argument that changes your thinking or you make observations that changes your view, do so.

3. “The Thumper Rule”. If you do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (from the movie Bambi). It is the teacher’s job to create an environment that is safe for everyone to think and share their ideas.

Erekson, T. (2004). Assessing student understanding. The Science Teacher,71 (3), 36-38.
D. Nickelson, A TIME for Physics First Newsletter, April 2008.