Inspiration for teaching ideas can strike anywhere. Walking around the library at my campus, one can see a recent effort by library services to engage with students by providing whiteboards on every floor with a question students can answer like, “Why do you love the library?”, “Finals week: what are you thinking about?”, or “What’s stressing you out today?” However, it wasn’t until I read a post by Mike Harrison about getting students to utilize an empty whiteboard that I realized that this whiteboard idea could be a very useful activity in the classroom.
After reading Mike’s post and leaving ]a comment about this, I decided to try it out the next day in my classroom. The topic in the textbook had been robots, so to start the class, I wrote on the board: “What kind of robot would you like?”. I walked around the classroom and handed out whiteboard markers to the students and asked them to go up and write whatever answer they wanted. This was before class started. After class started, we looked at the answers and at some interesting ideas, and interesting vocabulary. This was a great way to start class because everyone was engaged, genuinely interested in what other students had to say, and were curious about whether or not what they wrote was correct. This gave a great springboard for talking about interesting ideas, and talking about grammar points that would otherwise not have come up. For example, several students answered with “I like” instead of “I would like”, so I was able to mention the difference that adding “would” makes. In addition, there was some confusion about “robot teacher” and “teacher robot” regarding order of adjectives. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of my whiteboard (which I tend to do, so can’t explain why I didn’t.)
Overall, it was a great warm up. It’s a quick activity and worth a quick try!