Taken for granted by teachers the world over, the humble blackboard has proven its worth in many a classroom and has ancient roots dating all the way back to 11th century India and, in its current form, to17th century Scotland. It is the one teaching aid that has stood the test of time and it comes into its own in teaching English thanks in no small part to its versatility and adaptability. But getting the most out of your blackboard requires a little bit of know how. Want to know how? Read on….

teacherTaken for granted by teachers the world over, the humble blackboard has proven its worth in many a classroom and has ancient roots dating all the way back to 11th century India and, in its current form, to17th century Scotland. It is the one teaching aid that has stood the test of time and it comes into its own in teaching English thanks in no small part to its versatility and adaptability. But getting the most out of your blackboard requires a little bit of know how.

Want to know how? Read on….

Classroom Management

As every experienced teacher knows, the board is an indispensable aid in helping to manage and shape the learning experience especially when it comes to giving instructions. The ability to be able to chalk up the procedure for a given activity prevents the need to repeat instructions ad nausea and saves valuable learner production time in the process. Outlining homework assignments, posting reminders and keeping tally of points awarded during group activities are just some of the ways the board can help you to manage classroom activities.

Uses in English teaching

As well as helping to organise and manage the classroom, boards can also be used to facilitate game play in the form of hangman, Pictionary (https://tefltastic.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/pictionary ) and bingo to name but a few. Dictations and sentence / story-building are also well suited to the board and, as with the other activities mentioned above, provide opportunities for increasing motivation among those who enjoy demonstrating what they know as well as building confidence among the more reluctant members of class.

Using the board to record class output is also a great way to highlight both the good and the not so good in class; focusing attention on accuracy and errors in real time and in context will afford learners a better understanding and appreciation of the language item in question. 

Dos and don’ts

Effective use of the board can be tricky to pull off in the heat of the battle. A quick review of the basic tenets of board use will stand you in good stead.

  • Do make sure the students can see the board and the text that you write.
  • Do use manuscript rather than cursive. Remember that your students may never have used Roman script or have written left to right before. 
  • Don’t stand in front of the board or with your back to the class. 
  • Do make sure every student has copied any information they want from the board before erasing it.
  • Don’t write too much at once - it leads to clutter and misunderstanding.
  • Do use chalks / pens that are visible.
  • Do make sure pens/markers are not likely to run out halfway through the lesson; you have sufficient chalk if using a blackboard; you have something to erase/clean the board.
  • Do divide the board to reflect the different facets of the lesson.

For more practical ideas on board use in the classroom checkout Sue Clarke’s article over on the British Council’s English teaching channel.