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Whiteboards everywhere!

September 17, 2010

My students say the most amazing things in modeling discussions. Here’s an example:

On the spring scale, there was only one force on one side of the spring when you were using it to hold up a mass, and in your experiment, you had equal forces on both sides of the spring when you were pulling it from both ends.

Now my dilemma is simple—should I interrupt the awesome discussion to unpack this statement? My gut says no, and sometimes the kids wrestle out the knotty thinking in statements like this, but just as often they jump to the next idea in discussion. I usually write these things down and bring them back in discussion after the students have talked through them on their own for a while.

But I’ve just recently come up with another idea—when these things happen, I ask the student who said it to write the idea down so we can examine it later, and my hope is to compile a big list of “crazy things we should explore” now that we understand the model at the end of the unit.

And to make this a bit more visual, I’ve decided that I want to cover my classroom with whiteboards—I’d going to put whiteboards on the cabinets, on the useless door in my classroom right next to the smartboard, and all over the place, so that each class has a designated area in the classroom to write down those idea and questions we’re going to put in the “parking lot” to explore further.

Does anyone have any ideas for cheap and non-permanent ways to attach whiteboards to various surfaces?

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