One of the most common ways to use whiteboards is to drill concepts: or check comprehension. You can either have students form verbs or nouns on the boards or have them answer concrete questions about a text.
For example, you can ask students to write the form of the noun mater that would follow cum. on the boards. Or, write the translation of this verb: putabam. While not very imaginative, drill and repeat is a useful teaching technique for practicing some aspects of any language. However, students get bored with this activity and frankly, so do I.
In order to engage students when I really needed to spend some time drilling a certain concept or group of concepts, I invented this game, which I call "Tour of the Empire." It has been entertaining and instructive with all levels of Latin, both middle and high school. The board is below. A full size copy can be found here in the Google drive folder linked here: under the Card and Board Games tab.
This game cam be played individually or in partners. Either way, each student or partner needs a copy of the game board, a whiteboard and marker and a six sided die. You can have groups share the die if you don't have enough.
How to Play:
Students mark on the game board at the starting position which is numbered as "1" and is in Roma. You then ask students a grammatical or comprehensin question - anything that has a definitive answer. They write the answer on the whiteboards. You then tell the group to hold up their whiteboards, tell them the correct answer. Students who got the answer correct, roll the die and move the number of spaces on the game board. They then make a new mark where they are. Students who did not get the answer correct, stay where they are.
On the board, there are two different abbreviations by some of the numbers. Some spaces have an "S" marked and other say "RR." "S" stands for switch. A student landing on a space with an "S" must switch their board with another player or pair of players. My rule is that this must be done quickly, without making a survey of the room to see who is furthest ahead. The player who got the "S" takes the board of the player and gives that player, their board. If it turns out that they accidentally switched boards with a player who was actually further behind, too bad.
RR stands for random reward. A student landing on that space simply raises their hand tells me that the have a random reward. What reward you decide to give out is up to you. I usually tell students to move ahead between 2-5 spaces. Sometimes, if they've been to chatty, I simply say, "No Random Reward for you." I warn them about this before the game begins and it tends to cut down on the talking.
Play is over when one student makes it all around the empire or you run out time. In that case, survey the class and declare the student who is the furthest ahead to be the winner.
This game can take 40 minutes to play and often no one makes it to the end. If you want to play a speedier version of this, have everyone roll and move regardless of whether or not they got the answer right. Have students who got the answer right, roll twice. This version will take only about 20 minutes before someone completes the tour.
There is no reason to use this particular board. I created it because I wanted students to spend some more time looking at the geography of the empire. I never seem to be able to devote enough time to that topic. Other teachers with whom I have shared this game with, have made street maps of Pompeii. I think the underworld would make a great board as well. Throw in an S and a RR about every 12 spaces and it should work fine.
This is an easy game that can be played with students in grades 6-12. It works to re-enforce vocabulary and can be played as review or as an introduction to a new unit. Students absolutely love it.
What you need:
A word list of about 15-20 words. This works best with a word list of terms that can be drawn but require some thought to about how to draw. Students should have this list in front of them at the start of the game.
And whiteboards, you need whiteboards.
How to play:
Divide your class into two teams. Make sure everyone has the word list as well as a whiteboard and maker. You call one representative from each team to the board. They need to bring their word list with them. Now on a whiteboard, write one of the words on the list and show it to the class but not the students standing at the board. Everyone now draws some representation of the word on their board. After about a minute, tell the class to hold up their boards and the two students at the front of the room look at all the pictures and try to guess the word. The first student to correctly yell out the word gets a point for their team. Now they sit down and two more representatives come to the front and you repeat the process.
The course of this game is about 30 minutes.
Tips to make this Game Work:
I learned about this game from Emily Lewis and Thomas J. Howell who led a workshop at C.A.N.E. (Classical Association of New England) and described this activity. The two of them are marvelous Latin teachers and frequently lead workshops on Latin instruction. If you are attending a convention and see their names listed as presenters, you should go - will definitely be worth it.
One of the most engaging and instructive ways to use whiteboards to have students draw words, phrases and passages in Latin. Be warned though, when given a whiteboard, a barely functional marker, and limited time, even the best artists' skills will degrade into lumps and squiggles. Be generous in your understanding of white board iconography. If the student tells you that the stick figure wearing what looks like a toilet plunger on his head, clutching an inner tube is really Aeneas in armor carrying his father out of Troy, believe.
Drawing with the Beginning Student
While the beginning chapters in most texts, make poor and dull visuals, I find it helpful to add in animal vocabulary for case practice. Students can easily convey the following animals on the white boards. These are:
porcus,ursus, cuniculus, rana, equus, gallina
and of course avis, canis and felis. However, I use these word when I want students to draw but only first and second declension nouns when I want them to write. I find limiting instruction to forming case endings to first and second declension noun in the first year to be the most useful.
I know these words aren't in your textbook chapter. It doesn't matter. Use the above cast of characters to help students master case usage. Ask them to draw:
Gallina porcum portat vs. Gallinam porcus portat
Ursus taurum pulsat vs. Ursum taurus pulsat.
Then add in plurals...
Cuniculi ranam vident vs Cuniculos rana videt
And so on...By the way, the dotted line with an arrow is the indicator of who is seeing who in whiteboard lingo. For each case introduced, use a series of short sentences to be drawn by which students can practice case mastery. Dative anyone? Have students draw:
Cuniculus servum urso dat vs Servus ursum cuniculo dat.
Drawing with the Mid-level Student
Drawing activities are very instructive for students of all levels. To review a chapter, simply take sentences from the text, write them on the board and ask students to draw what is happening. Here's a demo sentence derived from Chapter 21 in the Ecce Romani series that a student might draw for a test review:
Caupo scelestus corpus in plaustro posuit et stercus supra coniecit.
(The wicked innkeeper put the body in the cart and threw manure above it)
When drawing more complex sentences, I tell students to draw the part that they understand. I award between 1-4 points for having different elements of the sentence on the board. For example, 1 point for drawing an innkeeper, 1 point for indicating somehow that he is wicked (usually slanted eyebrows) 1 point for drawing a body in a cart , and 1 point for drawing manure in the cart. Students tally their points in the corner of the board.
When using the sentence draw activity, I find its very helpful to change the sentence from it's original form to test students comprehension. Usually, I begin with sentences that follow the plot of the text and then start to vary them. For example here' s sentence from that same chapter that you might use to check case mastery.
Cauponem scelestum miles in fossa posuit et in stercore a plaustro obdormivit.
(The soldier put the wicked innkeeper in a ditch and fell asleep in the manure by the cart)
The more ridiculous your sentence, the better. There will be a lot of "How do you draw that?! That doesn't make sense?!" To which I reply, "I have complete confidence in you!"
Drawing with Advanced Students
Don't neglect your advanced students either. My A.P. students drew their way through the Aeneid with top marks on the exam. So many passages from the Aeneid and some from Caesar make excellent visuals. You can easily use the point system for the different elements as well. Due to the length of these sentences, I tend to write them ahead of time, project them on the board and then underline the different pieces that are worth points after the pictures are drawn..
Drawing with Mythology
The drawing activity is an excellent way to review mythology. After reading or listening to a group of myths, ask students to draw part of the story on the whiteboards. Here are some questions that get great visual responses:
What is the symbol of Jupiter? Neptune? Mercury?
Draw the birth of Minerva
Draw what happened to Persephone, to Daphne, to Io etc.
Tips to Make White Board Drawing Work:
I think the title of this blog pretty much sums it up. You need these in your classroom - more than you need textbooks. If your school won't buy them, get a class set yourself. They are about 9 x 12" in size. They can be easily procured by any online school catalog such as WB Mason. They come with hard backs or floppy backs. I like the hard backed ones because they are easier to hold up and just more satisfying to use. For a while, Dick Blick had the best prices but it's been a while since I checked.
You also need whiteboard markers. Now these, your school should definitely supply. If your school doles them out three or four at a time, be adamant that you need the entire box. Make your case that you are not a hoarder but you will need 20 students to be writing at once. Smile.
You don't really need erasers. I tell students to use scrap paper to erase. I don't let them use tissues because tissues are also in short supply and one whiteboard activity can deplete your supply for the term. Other teachers have used rags which they hand out. I find these get nasty pretty quickly but they do erase the boards better than scrap paper.
You can of course share boards with another teacher. This will work to get you started. However, I use mine so frequently that I fear tension may develop over usage of the boards. Sharing is not my forte. Regardless of how or where, get a class set like the blog title says.