A few weeks ago, I spent ages setting up https://getkahoot.com/ so my students could interact with an interactive whiteboard using their phones.
It’s awesome, fun technology that engages the learners, BUT, you can do something similar that requires less setting up with old technology like mini whiteboards.
What Are They?
They are rectangles of plastic that students can write on with dry wipe markers. You can get a classroom set cheap on eBay or amazon.com. Often they also come with loads of ideas on how to use them in the classroom. Compared to the amount of class time you will get out of using them, they are definitely worth the price.
Here are eight activities you can do with this simple but brilliant teaching tool.
8 Ideas to Use Old Fashioned Technology That Work Today
You can find an enormous list of spelling tests here at Busy Teacher. Put students in teams and get them to spell the words that you read out. You could vary this by getting teams of students to read out different spellings to each other. You can also get students to hold up the spellings after each word, so that you, and the other learners, can see what everyone else has written. Students find this fun and motivating.
Adding a mini whiteboard can turn simple dictation into a team game. Put students into pairs or teams and have one ‘scribe’ write the dictation on a mini whiteboard. Award them a point for each mistake they make and the team with the least points is the winner. You can find lots of dictation samples here.
Write a Line and Pass It On
Because students can share their mini whiteboards with each other, they are great tools for collaborative writing. Give students the first line of a description / report / letter / something else and have them finish the line. They then pass their mini whiteboard to the left and the next student writes a line. Keep going until the text is finished. Texts can be very simple sentences for lower level learners or complex academic paragraphs to help IELTS or TOEIC students with essay writing.
Text Message Conversation
Put learners into groups of 2 or 3. Explain that they are going to have a conversation WITHOUT speaking using the mini-whiteboards - just like they do with text messages on their cell phones or on social media.
Here are some topics you could try:
- It’s better to live in the city than the country.
- Women are better drivers than men.
- All schools should be free.
Give students a time limit and have them chat to each other using the mini-whiteboards. Remind learners that they can’t spend too long writing their answers!
You might also like to play some music while students are writing. Circulate round the class looking for any common written errors you can feedback on at the end of the class.
For variation on this activity, you could ask students to focus on a specific area or task in their conversation. They could use or not use abbreviations, not use certain words to encourage the use of synonyms or make an arrangement on a task or agreement on a topic.
If you don’t know the old game you can find lots of variants of it here. Use the mini whiteboards to get students to play it with each other rather than playing it as a class. This will allow them to produce more English together.
You can find some great variations of this classic game here. The mini whiteboards will make bingo just a little bit more fun, especially for younger learners.
Give one student a picture or a chart and have them describe, but not show it to the other student.
You can find thousands of charts and graphs to copy on Google.
There are hundreds of simple pictures for your students to use if you Google ‘Picture dictation’.
If your students are quite creative then they could make something up to draw, such as the layout of their perfect house, a map of their dream island or the best school, a scary monster or a crazy invention.
A nice variant of this is for you to give a description and all the students draw what you describe, there’s a great lesson on this from the British Council, here.
Using whiteboards for voting is also motivating for both you and your students, in this way; you can see that everyone is involved in an activity as well as their answers. For example, if you have a multiple choice set of questions, ask students to respond by using the whiteboards. Ask the learners a question and give them 10 seconds to think and write A,B or C on their whiteboard, then, ask them to show their answers together. Now you can see what they think and ask questions yourself – “Why did you write C, Tom?”
There are lots of variants on this including team games, quizzes, short answer questions, yes/no and true/false statements. It adds a bit more variety and fun to everyday class activities.
If students want to keep any of the information they wrote down on their mini whiteboards during any of these activities, encourage them to ‘take a photo’ of it with their smartphones.
P.S. If you enjoyed this article, please help spread it by clicking one of those sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in more, you should follow our Facebook page where we share more about creative, non-boring ways to teach English.