Teaching Tips

Whiteboarding Tip 2: The Circle Method

In this method, students display their whiteboards in a circle. If the configuration of your class allows it, all groups hold their whiteboards up at their tables so all students can see all whiteboards as they look around the classroom. The circle method works well if your students are predicting something that can be drawn as a diagram. If responses fall into clearly demarcated categories (e.g., similar diagrams), the teacher can call one group to discuss another group’s whiteboard. If the same question is asked pre- and post- instruction, you could take pictures of their whiteboards before and after instruction, and post them on the bulletin board in the classroom. This allows students to easily see how their thinking has changed or developed.

An example is shown in the two pictures below. Students conducted an exploratory activity with magnets, after which they were asked to predict, in the form of a diagram, how the magnetic force around a magnet might look. Would the force be the same in all directions? Would it be stronger in some places and weaker in others?

Pre- and post-instruction whiteboards were held up in a circle for all students to view. Post instruction, it was easy for the teacher to assess whether all student groups had grasped the learning objectives of the lesson, and whether students had moved past their misconceptions.

Reference: Henry, D., Henry, J., & Riddoch, S. (2006). Whiteboarding your way to great student discussions. Science Scope, 29 (7), 50-53.

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