There are teaching methodologies, activities, classroom management techniques, and learning styles to consider during each and every class. More often than not, thinking about board work often falls to the side.
You may be thinking, what exactly is board work? Board work is how you utilize the whiteboard – or chalkboard – during your lesson. It actually plays a vital part in the success of a given session. It should be included in your lesson plans, or at the very least, thought about directly beforehand.
Ever had a lesson and by the end, everything was scattered all over the board so that if you looked at it, it didn’t make any sense? That’s the opposite of what should happen. By the end of class, although the board may be filled, it should be organized and legible. Here we will look at some ways to effectively use board space-
Have a vocabulary corner.
New words that aren’t in the textbook, or aren’t focused on, are bound to pop up. In a designated boxed corner or slim column on the side of the board put these new words. It’s up to you if you want to also put pronunciation notes, part of speech, or a familiar synonym after giving the definition to the class. The advantage of this is to encourage students to also make note of new words, and for the class to realize they are learning more words than what’s just in the planned lesson. Plus, if you end a few minutes early, you can review as a time-filler.
Section the board in your mind.
As you plan your lesson, think of the board presentation. An even better way of accomplishing a good presentation is to draw it out. Not exactly of course, but a rough sketch. During the different stages of your lesson, you have two options. You can either section off the various parts (grammar presentation, answers to an exercise, etc.) to have everything displayed at the end, or you can erase and start clean each time. It depends on what you will need with what you are doing.
Make small notes to yourself.
The far corner of the board, the one closest to your desk, is a good place to make notes to yourself. They should be small and they only need to be legible to you. Is there something that needs to be addressed after the speaking activity is finished? Do you need a reminder of what comes next? These types of notes are very useful to write down given that there are many things happening in class at any time period, making it likely you will forget what you wanted to do or say.
Keep it simple.
With all that said, it’s important to keep it simple for the students. Board work is a very important aspect of a smoothly run class, but it can easily get overanalyzed. Don’t spend a ton of time during class making sure your board is beautiful; do the work beforehand by visualizing what you want it to look like. As with anything, the key to improvement is practice!
About the Author
Yvette Smith is an English teacher currently in Vietnam. She has taught in China and Mexico as well. She enjoys writing about the ESL field and thinks everyone should take the chance to travel abroad at least once in their lives.