Classroom Tool: White Boards & Flip Charts
I love using white boards and flip charts in the classroom—but there is a time and place for using these. The main difference between these tools and something like Power Point is that white boards and flip charts encourage participation and collaboration. You can’t change a point or add someone’s idea to a slide show as you’re presenting it, but you can add it to a white board.
If you’re having open dialog and you want group input, using a white board or flip chart in your classroom immediately creates conversation. There’s something about a student’s idea being added to a board that excites them. Here are my rules for using these tools:
- Make sure the board is clean. You can’t keep using an eraser over and over again. You need to use spray cleaner on it occasionally. Writing on top of a dirty or foggy board is worse than not writing at all.
- Test your markers before class starts and throw out the bad ones.
- Test your markers to know which are skinny, fat, etc. Depending on how much you’re writing, this is important to know!
- Test your markers on a white board. Some are squeaky! You want to make sure your markers don’t become a distraction in the middle of great class discussion.
- Prep your flip chart. Having facts and figures written lightly in pencil at the top can serve as a reminder while you’re teaching. Sometimes adding pictures ahead of time to the chart will make for pleasant surprises when you flip the page.
- If your flip chart has a sticky back and you’re planning on peeling and sticking it on the wall—make sure it actually sticks! Sometimes I get a defective pad and then it slides off my walls in the middle of class, causing a giant distraction.
- Always print—never write in cursive.
- Start writing at the top of a flip chart and go down (would you believe most people start near the middle?!)
- Unless the front row is set back a good distance from your flip chart, don’t use the bottom third of the paper. Every eye needs to see it.
- Keep permanent markers away from your white boards. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt this humiliation!
Never underestimate the power of an educator!