Our new experiment .. whats happens if you let the students write directly on the tables?
This idea steams from coffee time at the Southampton Oceanography Centre while I was studying for my PhD. Physics nerds from the research section would gather around for morning coffee break and invariably talk about the latest scientific dilemmas. One morning someone brought a white board marker and wrote directly on the table.. a brilliant idea had begun.
The great advantage of this practise is that everyone is involved. If left for 5 minutes on their own students will always gravitate towards the white boards and the coloured markers, “we never get to write on them in school”. This shows how little its takes to excite a student!
By writing on the tables we can all solve problems together, particularly in maths. A team effort. For the visual students they remember the exercise by the pattern created. We even encourage these students to use their phone cameras to take a snap of the “task image” that they have created. This works equally well for all subjects from biology to science or Accounting.
For other classes it allows us all to simply focus on an idea together. When we are incorporating students with hearing impairments into the classes this has a great advantage because it solves the problems of directional noise. Everyone is in a group together with no distance to the white board. No extra distraction or having to turn your back on the student while you write.
For dyslexic students it takes away the need to be neat. As dyslexics can’t visualise words or paragraphs of text they don’t know what fits or how much space they need. The page and paper become obstacles instead of tools. We have got around this problem in the past by using A2 sheets of paper. The table is a GIANT sheet of paper. Problem solved. Students will express them selves better and have less fear of making mistakes. They will also work at an increased pace.
But above all else it just makes the classes more fun.