Using White Boards in the Classroom – Dr. Elena Brezynski

Using White Boards in the Classroom – Dr. Elena Brezynski


My name is Elena Brezynski and I am an assistant professor of biology at Seattle Pacific University. I teach
anatomy and physiology I teach animal biology and I teach
general biology I teach biology for the elementary education
students and I am a proponent of whiteboard use. I use white boards because I really
believe that students learn more if they actively participate in class and the whole thing kicked off because
I was in a deep a raked seating lecture theatre
traditional lecture theatre setup and this particular classroom had no
white boards at all the only white board space was hidden
behind the screen the projector screen and I use
that’s going to project slide for a PowerPoint and I’m one of those people who likes to
use a whiteboard lot I like to draw on the white board like to brainstorm on the
whiteboard and I had no resources at all in that
particular room so I was teaching a summer course and I was put in this room which was not
very friendly for group work so I asked my head of department if I
could have money to buy some mini whiteboards would you like to see a mini whiteboard? I
will pull one out for you okay. So, literally, you can just buy these from a I think we got ours from OfficeMax so
we might have got them online and a want what I would do was in my lecture I would use them in
lots of different places so initially at the beginning of class it’s
very important that you start from the point that the students come in.
So either I would use a bridging type
question what if we have we studies about this topic before in
class what do you know as a class about this particular topic
or I could give them a clinical problem and
get them to brainstorm on their boards. Some sort of open ended introductory they’re both some kinda introductory open-ended
question and then when the students worked in small groups
on their mini whiteboards maybe working in threes or maybe fours I could wonder through the groups of
students and there’s something about having a
whiteboard the students can write down their ideas and in big print and I can, I can have
a little look and I can therefore see the baseline knowledge the students have and I know where to start my
lecture from I know where they’re coming into the the good ideas
they happen maybe also the misconceptions they have so it gives me a very good starting
point for my class I then would probably go into a little bit of more formal lecture time but I would
pepper my lecture with questions that they
would answer on the boards as a group activity so maybe I talk for
15 minutes a and then I do other a concept check or
I can get them to answer question like a multiple choice
question or I could get them to label up a diagram
or two sketch out a diagram or to do a flow chart or to do a concept map and this what
kind of continue throughout the class so it would be a little sandwich of me maybe doing some stuff at the
front and them doing group work but always with me wondering through to pick up on those particular questions
or pick up on any misconceptions personally I find students aren’t very
good necessarily all putting their hand up and asking questions during lecture but if they all have a board then those
questions naturally arise and I can incorporate more
students ideas in my teaching and hopefully
tailor my teaching more to the students needs. So it’s been a really popular activity I’ve used it now for gosh I
think about three years on campus and the students are active learners
when they have their what boards with them and I feel that I’m a more responsive teacher as a consequence. I have to carry
them around campus.I I have a rather fancy bag would
you like to see my bag? I’m I brought it with me from UK it’s a
shopping cart and um the added side of
having a shopping cart is that I can pull other exciting things out of it if I
would like. Skeletons sometimes appear out of my bag. Students respond very positively they have to be on board to be
active learns in my class and I always say to them if they want to come to class where
they are sitting and listening to a lecture then
I am NOT the professor for them so they have to buy in at the beginning
but usually when I have the evaluations at the end
of quarter one thing they say that they really like is they like the group work
they like participating and the other thing about the group work
is I think it builds community within the class it gets the students
working in little clusters hopefully they form then study groups and it kinda
creates more of a community a collaborative learning community as
opposed to individual students a just listening to a lecture so I think it it builds community within the class
for me it’s a very, very important piece of the the whole learning puzzle

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