Monday, March 17, 2014

Whiteboards, Reinvented!

There’s something magical about whiteboards. Give a reluctant student a pencil and pad and he’ll groan. Give him a portable whiteboard and a marker and his eyes will light up. Students who dislike spelling will generally write long lists of words without complaint on a white board. Long division woes? Write the problem on a whiteboard and watch a student chomp at the bit to get at it. Maybe it’s the novelty. Maybe it’s the colored markers and the sharp, crisp lines they create. Maybe it’s the knowledge that mistakes will disappear with the swipe of a finger. Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that the power of a whiteboard belies its simplicity.

White boards aren’t exactly convenient, though. A student can’t draw up a master plan, then toss the board into a backpack and expect the lines to remain when she takes it out again. And tutors who want to use a whiteboard may need to spend lots of time setting up sample math problems or sentences, which must then be carefully protected so that they don’t rub off before they can be worked on.

So we were thrilled to discover the clever products available through a company called Whiteboard Reinvented. For example, the Mini Ideaboard is part notebook, part whiteboard, and all ingenuity. Three rings hold five whiteboard sheets, perfect for brainstorming. There are also four transparent overlays that can be placed over a whiteboard sheet for editing or over a piece of paper. Imagine the possibilities – students could trace letters as they work to learn cursive, do a sheet of math problems, even have fun tracing a
favorite comic! The whole thing is encased in an attractive cover that will either close over the sheets to protect them or prop up the board to share ideas with others.

We’re also fans of the Launchpad. It, too, has five whiteboard sheets, but it’s also got a lined pad of paper underneath them for preserving the best ideas. Imagine a student brainstorming for an essay; he can list all his ideas on one whiteboard page, arrange the best ones on another whiteboard page in the form of a mind map, then copy his final arrangement on paper when he is satisfied with it. The Launchpad also comes with two clear dry erase pockets that will fit any A4 printout for easy editing. These would be great for any of the ideas listed above (practicing handwriting, doing a math worksheet), or for papers used daily or
weekly. For example, a student with lots of responsibilities during rushed mornings could place a checklist in the pocket, then check off items as he completes them each day (e.g. wash breakfast dish, feed the dog, collect sports equipment, etc.). It could also house a blank weekly calendar onto which a he could record assignments, due dates, and other important information.

In short, Whiteboard Reinvented is a wonderfully innovative company whose products may be just what you need to inspire similar creativity in the students in your life.

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