Erasable whiteboards mounted on all available wall space.
Standard, 1.2m high whiteboards, whiteboard wallpaper or whiteboard paint floor-to-ceiling, are configurations that have been successfully installed. Boards can also be mounted in front of low windows.
Windows can be used as alternative spaces. Electrostatic paper can be used as removable options (e.g. Magic Whiteboard)
The ideal space:
A square room, all four walls covered with boards, no furniture (maybe some stools), no identifiable “front”.
Budget range: $450 – $15,000
Standard 1.2m high whiteboards for a 7m x 7m room cost $2,500-$3,000 (plus installation).
The cost depends on how much you can spend, what you are hoping it will look like and the quality with which you are willing to work.
On-going costs per year are about $600 total, including whiteboard markers, erasers and cleaning fluid. This can be reduced if students are asked to supply their own whiteboard markers–with the teacher having an emergency supply for those who forget (who are also required to clean all the boards with cleaning fluid each day they forget).
Students can be asked to work in pairs, in small groups or individually using randomised grouping or pairing.
Looking at other student work and discussions about the task are encouraged.
The teacher can take advantage of standing in the centre of the room to gauge students’ understanding.
The teacher can easily call the attention of part of the class or the entire class if there appears to be a common misconception.
While students are working, move from student to student answering questions, clarifying problems and identifying misconceptions.
- Visible learning: The student and teacher can very easily see student understanding of the content as students work on problems and questions–the phrase “viewing what’s inside the student’s mind” has been used in reference to working in the room.
- Natural Collaboration: The environment lends itself naturally to student collaboration as they can view each others’ work and discuss their solutions. This is particularly the case when students have been paired or divided into groups.
- Engaged students: Early research suggests that students remain engaged and on-task more readily in a whiteboard room than in a normal desk room undertaking activities that are intended to be engaging.1
- Formative assessment: Given the ease with which the teacher can see student output, this allows the teacher to constantly monitor student learning and adapt lessons and activities appropriately to address shortcomings.
- Student-centered: For much of the class, the students’ work is on show and at the centre of discussion. Furthermore, collaboration becomes the norm, removing the teacher from the centre of attention.
- Risk-free for students: Students are more likely to attempt a problem, initiate working or create a diagram of the problem if they know it can be fixed or erased and redone easily.2