Whiteboard Peer Review

I’m always looking for news ways to change up the whiteboard process I use (almost daily) in my class.  Whiteboarding is amazing, it gets and keeps everyone involved in the process of scientific thinking and problem solving.  However, early on each year I struggle with getting the students involved in the questioning and discussion process during WB presentations.

My theory is that it is an intimidation factor.  Students have a hard time adjusting to being able to questions their peers in front of a larger group of peers.  Usually in my Chemistry classes it is the first time students have been exposed to “low pressure”/”conversations starting” presentations such whiteboards.  Most have experienced the dreaded report presentation but that is it.

This year I tried something different to get the conversation started while my Chemistry students were whiteboarding the Modeling Chemistry worksheet on density.

I split the class into groups and gave each one problem to work on (students were to work on all of these problems individually before they came to class).  The problems on this WS consist of a mass vs. volume graph and several questions relating to that particular graph.  I gave the groups about 8-10 minutes to work on their problems.

As groups finished up working on their problems I rotated the boards themselves so that each group was looking at someone else work on a different problem than what they just did.  I gave them the following instructions:

  • Do NOT change any of the work on the board.
  • Write at least 1 relevant chemistry question about something that was on the board (Not why did you spell this wrong?)
  • Even if  you agree with everything on the board you need to write 1 question you would like to ask the group about why or how they did something.

I believe this process is similar to a “Whiteboard Museum,” but my classroom is not set up well for that at all, and I’ve never seen that done where students actually write questions right on the boards.

Here are a couple of examples of the boards I got.  (These aren’t the best ones I had all day, but I forgot to take pictures during my first couple of classes):

Overall I really liked the  way this whiteboard modification turned out.  There were a couple of benefits my students gained from this WB modification.

  • It gave everyone a sense of what I am looking for during the “questioning” phase of whiteboarding.  The whole idea of asking a question even if the answer is correct and they agree with the answer is foreign to them.  This forced their hand a little bit, to understand I’m more interested in the overall process of them “getting” a problem.
  • It allowed the shy students that have a lot of great questions and insights a chance to ask a question without asking in front of everyone else.
  • As groups presented the boards we were able to skip them explaining some of the WS problems they had been assigned.  Since all groups already looked over the boards and didn’t have an questions on a particular problem we saved that time.
  • As the groups presented they were able to focus their explanations based on the questions written on the board.  It gave them a sense of “direction” for their presentation.

I don’t think I will do this every time I whiteboard (especially not for labs), but when WBing a set of worksheet problems it seems as if it could be an effective way to change things up.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts and comments about this.  Have you done something similar?  What could I do better?  Different?  Please post below!

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2 comments

  1. Matt

    Tried this for the first time today. We’re nearly half-way into the school year, and I am still struggling to get my intro physics students to ask “good” questions during Whiteboard sessions. This (peer review) really did the trick. Many students that rarely speak voluntarily in class were writing excellent questions on other group’s WBs. I agree that I wouldn’t do this every time, but it was an excellent twist that prevented what I fear would have been an unproductive discussion.

  2. Pingback: Day 72 – Energy Bar Graphs Peer Review | 180 Days of Mr. Wysocki's Classes

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