ArtWhiteboard engagement
Logo design example drawn by the Art students on the whiteboard

Whiteboard engagement

Usually the whiteboard is the teacher’s crowning spot, where different instructions are written down in red, blue, and black markers, such as learning intentions, homework, keywords, demonstrations, and diagrams. Especially in the art class room, I could rarely see while shadowing students being called at the whiteboard other than presenting.

I could see how it could become stressful, especially for shy students feeling the weight of being watched and fixated. I remember myself being called to the whiteboard to demonstrate some math exercise, and my mind would go completely blank just because I could feel the eyes of my colleagues piercing in my back.


It made me wonder if there is a way to empower students to step in with confidence and own that whiteboard whenever they are called to demonstrate, draw, or exemplify something. Not only would they gain confidence to display on the whiteboard, but it would also improve their overall confidence to express themselves and engage in the classroom overall.


Peer learning

The first opportunity came while studying the animal’s body proportions through shapes. I was getting ready to demonstrate on the whiteboard how you can use shapes to get the form of an animal. Yet while checking the homework, I could see that two students were already so professional. It actually intimidated me, as they were much better than myself, and then I thought that this was actually an excellent opportunity for peer learning through prior knowledge. I asked the students if they were willing to present their own diagrams on the whiteboard. One refused as she was too shy, while the others agreed.


I know that this method might challenge the fact that a teacher shouldn’t promote a student’s work over another’s, but when done democratically in a way that objectively promotes peer learning, it can be very effective. It is important not to compliment them directly, but to praise their practice and the effort they’ve put in over time. The way you ask students is important in order for them to think it was their decision.
First, you ask the student, and then the class.

Example question 1:

The student: I see that you used shapes in depicting the animal. That is very interesting. Would you be able to show us how you did it?

The class: I see that X used shapes in depicting the animal. Should we ask X to be the teacher and show us how they did it?

Real scenario: I see that student X used shapes. For how long have you been studying animals? Since I was little. Isn’t it amazing what practice can do? Even if this is our first time doing this, we could have a look at X’s style of depicting animals.

Image credit: 1st year student of Sacred Heart Clonakilty

For the portrait class, I had three students who agreed on showing their favourite style in setting the head proportions. I divided the whiteboard in three, and they drew and presented the steps, while the others were drawing the steps in their own sketchbooks.

Play strategies

Another way of boosting students’s confidence to own the whiteboard is by initiating graphic games such as Pictionary and evolving throughout the game from real to abstract concepts. I discovered that through play, it is easier for them to draw abstract concepts. One time, half the class was missing for camogie games. My lesson plan relied on SDG graphic harvesting group activities where I needed the whole class to be present. I decided to postpone the lesson plan, and I asked the remaining students to divide into two groups of seven and do a Pictionary game on the whiteboard. While one group was giving the word, the others would choose a representative to draw the word on the whiteboard. I left the students to warm up and pick up their own words. After both teams exhausted their players one round each, I said that now I’ll be giving the word, and three volunteers can draw at the same time what they think about the word.

I chose words such as sustainability, education, development, etc., and the students came up with amazing graphics.

Prior knowledge

The whiteboard can be used to graphically record prior knowledge. During the logo design discipline, I asked the students to think about popular logos and draw them on the whiteboard. At first they were hesitant, but it took one student to say, “Oh, I know…” and they all lined up to draw their own.

Image header: 1st year student of Sacred Heart Clonakilty


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