Theme & level – Whiteboards, K-5th grades
This article discusses the use whiteboards in teaching literacy. The study comes from South Australia. The school has 530 students which are split up into 18 classes of new arrivals to the country who have limited or no English skills and 11 ordinary classes. A significant portion of the population is Aboriginal students and over half of them come from non-English speaking backgrounds. Five primary teachers discuss how they implement literacy programs through the use of whiteboards in their classrooms.
For second language students, having visuals and repetition of language facilitates learning of the new language. Interactive programs extend students’ literacy skills from the direct teaching approach. Small groups played literacy games daily with oral communication, questions & answers, plus more capable students were supporting new students. The teacher can save lesson files to use again with another set of students.
Another teacher uses the whiteboard in teaching phonic awareness. Words can be highlighted, circled, underlined and so on. Pictures of words can be matched with words, moved around and made into rhyming lists if need be. Syllables can be taught by highlighting, circling, and color coding. Sound isolation activities can use the same method, allowing pictures of words to visually be shown along with lessons. By using images, photos, and clip art, it makes class topics more real to students for all content areas.
In teaching functional grammar, a teacher used a simple whiteboard feature of having different colors (coding) for different parts of a sentence. After language features were identified, labeled, and understood, class discussion between teacher and students were done in an informal way. Students could come up to the board and run their finger along the words if necessary.
One teacher was able to teach author craft (choice of words) by showing a passage of writing and then having student substitute in some of their own words. Students were learning the art of writing by being able to change wording, color coding, and manipulation of words if they desired. The editing process was revealed in a powerful way through the use of a whiteboard.
NETS-S (#1-#4, #6) was being met by applying any existing knowledge to literacy and interacting with fellow students. They would collaborate and evaluate new information to come up with correct answers. They used critical thinking skills, made informed decisions, and used digital tools to enhance the process of understanding literacy.
NETS-T (#1-#3) was being met by engaging students to use digital tools to explore authentic problems/lessons in literacy. Teachers adapted relevant learning experiences for the students through the use of whiteboards. And teachers modeled knowledge and skills in providing learning with this digital tool.
This article is of interest to me because of use of whiteboards and literacy. Though it is from Australia, it also is of interest in teaching English as a second language. From my ESOL classes I have learned about teaching minority students, with little English spoken in home environments, is a present reality in today’s education field. As this article pointed out, the use of whiteboards in teaching English is very positive, with students having visual representation of letters, words, sounds, and pictures to connect new definitions to. The ability to manipulate and move words around also facilitates knowledge of the English language. Also, having part of the process set up in a game format can promote the students’ engagement in learning. Many school classrooms have whiteboards available in them currently and teachers need to learn how to use them to strengthen all of their teaching practices.
Clark, L., et al, (2007). Interactive whiteboards in the literacy classroom at ingle farm primary. Practically Primary, 12(3), 25-28.