Whiteboards are a valuable tool in the classroom for almost any subject you teach. If you simply stand and talk, you’ll lose your students who process information better visually. But if you combine an effective whiteboard presentation with an enthusiastic delivery, you’ll do a good job of reaching all your students. Here are a few tips for using whiteboards effectively.

Clean the board first
Some trainers like to put some information up on the whiteboard before class. However, if you’re like me and you like to write as you go, make sure you clean the board thoroughly before class starts. And make sure you have an eraser, paper towel, or cloth handy at all times.

Make sure the inkwell doesn’t go dry
If there’s one thing that drives me crazy—both as an instructor and a student—it’s when someone tries to use a whiteboard with a marker that’s gone dry. The marker squeaks and the writing’s illegible. So throw out your old markers and get some new ones.

Keep your handwriting legible
Don’t just scribble something on the board and expect the person in the last row to be able to read it. If it’s worth writing on the board, it’s worth writing it legibly. P-r-i-n-t e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g if that’s what it takes to make your scrawl readable.

Also try to fill the board from left to right and top to bottom. You look a little goofy if you start writing in the bottom-right corner and need to work your way backward across the board.

Don’t erase the board without asking first
Here’s another thing that drives me crazy as a student. It’s when an instructor has done a brilliant job of answering a question or illustrating a point with a snazzy whiteboard presentation full of words, arrows, and exclamation points. Then he or she erases the board before I have a chance to copy the good stuff.

Assume that some of your students will take notes as you write on the board and others will watch and listen. Before you erase the board to start a new topic, ask the class, “Did everybody get a chance to copy whatever they needed from the board?”

Take a picture!
If you consistently do a great job of summarizing an important lesson on your whiteboard, consider bringing a camera to class. Before you erase the board, take a picture. Refer to the picture the next time you prepare to teach the same class.

Spend some money on a computerized whiteboard
A computerized whiteboard looks like any other whiteboard—except you don’t use ink. You use a special pen or pointer to draw on the board, which allows you to save a boardful of information at a time to disk. So when you have your flashes of whiteboard genius, you can save the board, e-mail it, put it in a document, or use it again the next time you teach.

You can spend from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the size and number of high-octane features you want in a computerized whiteboard. Follow this link to check out MicroTouch’s Ibid brand computerized whiteboard.

For folks who are serious whiteboard users, there’s even a Web site that lets you (and other cyber-artists) draw on a public electronic whiteboard. Follow this link to check out Groupboard.com .

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