Mini whiteboards – power to the students


If you ever feel like you don’t want to spend another minute in front of the classroom at the whiteboard, this post from Daniel Martin might be of help. It’s also good for developing speaking, writing (and spelling!) skills and learner autonomy, assists vocabulary revision and retention, creates an enjoyable challenge and brings variety. In fact, if you don’t have mini whiteboards, something could be fashioned out of paper, though the activity does involve wiping. Perhaps tablets? Anyway, the activity is interesting, and there are a few links to other whiteboard ideas at the end of the post – a nice candidate for morning bookmarking!

Update: And here’s another post in the series by Daniel: how to use mini whiteboards for collective answers in scattergory-like games.


Teaching with a twist


Marc from TESOL TOOLBOX has started an interesting series of ‘oldies-but-goldies’ with a twist, where he describes a well-known ELT activity and suggests modifications to it. Here is, for example, a twist on a typical brainstorming activity which makes it even more engaging for students because the teacher introduces a competitive element into it. Another activity he writes about is jigsaw reading – but did you know you could slightly ‘sabotage’ it to your teens’ delight? Definitely something to check out if you are looking for fresh teaching ideas.

MA in Norwich: Day 8 of 14


A street in Norwich

The highlight of the second Monday for me, perhaps surprisingly, was language. ‘Discombobulated’, ‘espoused’, ‘accretion’,a curate’s egg‘ – I challenge you to put all these words into one training session! (Just to be clear because my lexical reputation is at stake here: I had known them before, but hearing words like this is a rare joy.) All this happened against the background of exploring visual metaphors, suggestopedia, gallery walks to chamber music (‘Why? Why not!’ (c)) and, finally, good old PPP (or rather, the first P) to cram just a bit more information into our heads.

PD board

What’s in the suitcase?

What were we talking about? Teachers, of course, their professional lifecycles, their development and how we can support it. Oh, by the way: did you know that ‘to develop’ is an intransitive verb?

MA in Norwich: Day 4 of 14

Today the talk about motivation logically moved into the management of groups and teams and then conflict resolution. From putting types of group on the cline of cohesion to role-playing naughty teachers, I enjoyed every ELT-like activity applied to management contexts. Come to think of it – why ELT? Good teaching techniques apparently can be universal and result in deep learning. At least that’s how I’m feeling at the moment: my declarative knowledge is slowly beginning to sink in.


Here’s another excellent whiteboard, complete with Master Yoda. And yes, now I know about the downsides of Kolb’s experiential cycle and how to deal with them!

MA in Norwich: Day 2 of 14

Day 2 was full of remembering what I already knew and reconciling it with what I still had to learn.  I felt very much like this rabbit near the Norwich cathedral!


We discussed what it means to be a manager: managerial responsibilities and qualities, the dichotomy – if it exists – between leadership and management, leadership styles and roles and which of them we gravitate towards (and which we try to avoid). There were funny stories, picture metaphors, gallery walks and other communicative tasks – all this against the background of rather nifty whiteboards:


To crown it all, we applied Lewin’s force field analysis to our own contexts! Good times indeed.

There’s beauty in boards


Photo of Dan’s own whiteboard (Dan Baines @QuietBitLoudBit)

If you regularly observe other teachers, you must have often asked them to save their boardwork to discuss later. How about taking this idea further and use it for professional development of the whole teaching team? This is what Dan Baines recommends in his  guest post in Sandy Millin’s blog.

He tells a story of how pictures of whiteboards helped him make professional development relevant and accessible to a very busy and diverse team of teachers, offer them something that they would be able to do in their own time and not find too taxing or intimidating.

What he did was upload pictures of boards and discuss them with teachers in a Facebook group (comparisons seem particularly effective!). Sounds simple, but Dan has reflected on what worked and what didn’t and describes a very useful and practical model (do check the original post for more interesting details). I hope his whiteboard discussion group is still alive!