Can you really get inventive with just a whiteboard? The truth of the matter is that you can.
As an online ESL teacher, I depend on my whiteboard for quite a number of things.
There are a lot of things you can do with a whiteboard. There are a ton of games and activities that you can play, whether you are teaching in the brick-and-mortar school or online. All you need is a whiteboard and some imagination.
Things to Do With a Whiteboard
Here are some creative things that teachers can do with a whiteboard to make lessons easier and more enjoyable for all.
1. Write the date and today’s lesson aims
Many students get confused when saying the date, so it’s a great way of practicing by asking them each day. The aims and objectives can be written down to give the students some sort of goal to work towards. It can also be a helpful revision to make sure they understand the objectives by the end of the class and answer any questions they may have.
2. Divide the Board into Sections
If you divide the board up into four squares, you can categorize the different things you are writing and keep organized. You can use the boxes to manage new vocabulary, mistakes, student questions, and homework, for example.
3. Board work in reverse
Some teachers might also like to write up everything on the whiteboard before the students come to class. The teacher can erase each part after the students have understood it and copied it down on their notebooks. This can help get things done faster, and everything will be erased by the end of class.
4. Use bullet points or mindmaps
Teachers can make it easier for students to read and recall information by writing up bullet points or mindmaps. This could be good for summarizing or help them form the basis of their writing task.
5. Word Dash
The teacher writes a series of homophones and confusing words (for example, brake/break, sixteen/sixty) on the board. The teacher or student reads out the sentence, and the teams have to race to the board and select the correct word. There is a point for coming first.
6. Grammar Dash
Word dash also has a grammar version! You can write the infinitives on the board and have the students write the verb‘s correct form. For example, let’s say you were studying the past form of the verb. Write the infinitive forms like ‘see’ and ‘do’ and have the students race to the board and put them in the past form– ‘saw’ and ‘did.’
7. The Directions Game
Blindfold the student and stand them near the whiteboard with a pen. Draw a route on the board. The other student has to tell the student how to draw the line between the points on the board that you showed them.
8. The Joining Up Game
This is the same idea as the directions game, except the student, has to tell the blindfolded student directions to match words or part of a sentence on the board. This again practices the directions: “right, left, up, down!” and some other vocabulary or phrases you have learned in class.
9. Picture Dictation Game
Let’s say you want to revise vocabulary from the lesson. With one student blindfolded, the other students can sit down and describe how to draw something on the whiteboard.
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10. Reward Systems
Some whiteboards are magnetic, meaning you can add magnetic rewards to the board when they do a good job. Another option is to create team names and assign points to team names when they do well. Rewards can help keep young students motivated to learn.
11. Drawing Race
Students race to draw a picture of the sentence you say on the board, for example, “the park is behind the swimming pool.” Each team member can only draw one thing on the board.
12. Shark Attack/Hangman
This was once called hangman, but that game is no longer appropriate because of its meaning. Instead, we can play the game “shark attack,” which is the same game accompanied by a different visual.
Think of a word and write spaces for each letter on the board. Then draw a hungry shark in the ocean waves, with a man about 8-10 waves away. Have the students guess letters that are in the word. For every letter they get wrong, move the shark a little closer to the stickman.
Prepare a list of 25 questions over five categories, and add different values to each. You can use vocabulary or grammar. For example, the five categories could be ‘space,’ ‘animals,’ ‘prepositions,’ ‘travel,’ and ‘the past progressive.’
Assign points for each question and divide the classroom into teams. Allow students to pick a category for X amount of points. Read the question and give them 30 seconds to answer. If they are incorrect, the box remains open for the other teams to respond. The team with the most points at the end is the winner.
14. Hot Seat
Divide the class into teams and get a student to represent each team. Get the student representatives to sit at the top of the classroom, with their backs to the whiteboard.
Write something on the board. The team members describe it without saying the name of the vocabulary word. The students in the seats have to guess what the word is.
When one student guesses it, their team wins, and the teacher can repeat it with another student.
Teachers can play tic-tac-toe on the whiteboard. The students can also review questions each time they want to place an ‘X’ or an ‘O’. Alternatively, write vocabulary or verbs in the grid. The students have to form sentences using the verb or vocabulary word.
16. Last Letter First
Assign a topic, for example, countries. Each student has to go up to the board and write a word from that category. The last letter of the word should become the first letter of the next word.
For example, say your topic was “fruit.” The first student runs to the board and writes “apple.” The second student runs to the board and has to think of a word that starts with the letter e that is a fruit, like “elderberry.
17. Dictation Race
Prepare some sentences related to your study topic. Divide the class into two teams and dictate a sentence to a member of each team.
The students must run up to the board and write the first word on the board, before running back to their team and handing the marker to the next student, who runs up to the board and writes the second word of the sentence.
Correct spelling errors when the student makes them. The team who completes the sentence first wins.
Teachers can do a lot of things with a whiteboard. Which game do you want to try out with your students? Share this list with other teachers!
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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.
I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!
I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!