5 Favorite Ways to Use Whiteboards in Social Studies

After years of thinking about it, this summer I finally bought a set of classroom white boards (my largest class is 22 this year so it wasn’t cost prohibitive).  Instead of wasting paper and prep time on my end, this year a lot of my quick warm up and review activities will be white board based.  

These are 5 of my favorite, easy, and super low-prep (if not no prep!) ways I’ll be using white boards this year:

1.  Brain Dump Last Man Standing: I will give my kids a topic, say the Civil War, and in 3 minutes they must write down everything (people, events, speeches, legislation, etc) they remember about it.  Then they will go around the room and each students will say one thing on their list.  If student A says “Gettysburg Address,” then everyone who has that crosses it out.  Then student B might say “draft riots” and everyone who has draft riots crosses it out.  Repeat and keep going around the room until every word/phrase has been crossed off and there is hopefully a student who has something on their white board that hasn’t been crossed off because no one else had thought of it. 

2.  True, False, Fix Version 2!: while I will always love my original “True, False, Fix,” I’m pretty excited about this no prep version!  My kids will divide their white board into three sections, ideally as an upside down T so they have room to write a sentence.  I will then say something like, “Crispus Attucks was a colonial casualty during the Boston Tea Party,” and on their white boards the students will write true or false (hopefully they all write false) and then they will fix the statement to make it true, so they should write “Crispus Attucks died during the Boston Massacre.”  The class will hold up their white boards and with a quick glance around the room I can see who got it right or wrong, if need be we will discuss it, and then we will repeat the process a few more times with other statements.

These are 5 of my favorite ways to use white boards in social studies!

These are 5 of my favorite ways to use white boards in social studies!

3.  What’s the Connection: I will tell my kids two things, and they will write a short phrase or a word that connects them.  The fun part about this is that for one pair of terms two students could come up with two different connections, both of which might even be different than the connection I was thinking of, so this will lend itself to great class discussions.  A few examples could be:

—Treaty of Paris 1763 and Treaty of Paris 1783— peace treaties for wars in North America
—St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and Kellogg-Briand Pact—both happened in the 1920s
—15th and 19th Amendments—both gave a group of Americans the right to vote
—Scopes Monkey Trial and Engel v. Vitale—both involve the issue of religion versus science in school
—Gadsden Purchase and Webster-Ashburton Treaty—both solidified segments of America’s borders

4.  Who was the President: I anticipate using this as a mid and end of semester review in US History.  I will say 3-5 events/documents/speeches/battles/etc and my kids will write down who the president was when those items happened.  They will have about 10-15 seconds to write down their answer, then they will hold up the white boards and I will see at a glance who got it correct or not (for my advanced kids I will also have them say if it was a president’s first or second term).

5.  Chronological Order—this one will require a small amount of prep work: I will type up and project a list of 5-20 events (depends on how far into the semester we are) in random order covering the different topics studied up until that point, then my kids will write them in chronological order. 

I know I initially said 5 ways, but I have to include this last quick activity because it’s one of my favorites since the kids get to be creative:

6.  And the Caption is…:  (this one requires a small amount of prep) I will project an image (map, political cartoon, individual, event, etc) and my kids will write a quick caption for it if I want them to be more creative, or if I want them to be more academic they will write down the who, what, or where for what they are looking at.  When they hold up their white boards I can do a quick check, and if they wrote captions, I can use specific whiteboards to start a conversation without waiting for a student to volunteer.

If you liked any of these ideas, you can find 20 more of them in my Back to School Bundle, along with sample syllabi, ice breakers, ideas for managing absent students, note  guides, video guides, and much more!

How do you use white boards in class?  I’d love to read about it in the comments!

6 replies »

  1. Thanks for the ideas. I love the connection one. I also do one where they have to identify the source as being primary or secondary.


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