The use of mini whiteboards is so common in many schools - including in secondary schools - that I think it is long overdue for teachers to think deeply about when they are the best resource possible in a range of circumstances.
Are there circumstances where there could be better decisions made and more fit-for-purpose resources used than mini whiteboards?
Here is some of the content that generated a discussion. This conversation started with this quote:
I agree that learners must be made to feel safe to make mistakes, and it's OK not to know something in a 'safe and caring atmosphere in which mistakes are welcomed as normal, natural - and ultimately very important - part of the learning process'. So much so, I build such an ethos into the teacher-training and design of my phonics resources and programmes. Thus, I responded by contributing this to the DDOLL conversation:Turning Student Mistakes Into Teachable Moments -
"...in the classroom, it can be challenging to overcome the built-in stigma associated with mistakes or with being â€œwrong.â€� To do so requires deliberately cultivating a safe and caring atmosphere in which mistakes are welcomed as a normal, natural â€” and ultimately very important â€” part of the learning process." (Patricia De Saracho)
Someone soon responded and wrote this:This is a huge issue for me â€“ making it clear to children from the very youngest age that it is OK not to know something (or be able to do something) because theyâ€™re learning and we, the teachers, are responsible for teaching them well enough and giving them enough practice.
This is very much the built-in ethos in my approach to phonics provision (I often refer to this as â€˜foundational literacyâ€™) because I think it is SO important.
There are a number of ways I choose to address this. Subject specific (but relevant for all reading and writing work) is that the English alphabetic code is the most complex alphabetic code in the world â€“ and itâ€™s code. The tangible notion of the alphabetic code is use of the overview Alphabetic Code Charts to indicate the big picture, along with the reassurance that teachers will teach and support the children for a long time, thatâ€™s is OK â€“ and understandable â€“ to struggle with reading and spelling and that we, the adults, are there to help them with that.
Further, Iâ€™m no fan of mini whiteboards, and frequently come across many adultsâ€™ rationale that children like them because they can rub off their mistakes.
But why should children even worry about making any â€˜mistakesâ€™? Theyâ€™re only learning. Of course they are going to make many mistakes.
[Actually, the reality I have observed on many occasions in lessons is teachers not even noting childrenâ€™s mistakes or doing anything about them. The content is wiped off, the mistakes are not addressed, theyâ€™re ignored and therefore embedded for some children. In addition, lack of follow-through includes ignorant bliss of senior managers and parents/carers. And so it beginsâ€¦.]
Equally, we want children to be fearless to attempt reading unknown words and to spell unknown words, but teachers surely must feel fearless to correct them or â€˜help them with that wordâ€™ â€“ attributing the difficulty to the code itself and not to the child.
I could go on and on about thisâ€¦ no doubt I will in the future and no doubt I already have in the past.
I think it's possible for mini-whiteboards to be used to good effect. This happened in the Clackmannanshire study, and I've also seen it happening elsewhere. No doubt there can be a down-side, but there may be a baby-and-bathwater issue.