Given the current situation we are teaching in this fall I am planning on spending as much time outside with my grade two students. The issue, among many I run into (besides planning the trips to the bathroom inside the school) was the ability to represent thinking, questions, strategies of my students in a way that would be conducive to outside learning. I use whiteboards constantly in my classroom whether they are individual ones for my students, large whiteboards for group work or large whiteboards permanently attached to the wall and wondered what that could look like outside.
Could we attach some to the outside of the school?
Could we screw them or place them at eye level into trees located in an outdoor space beyond our playground?
But these ideas would be making the whiteboards stationary which I didn’t like, so I had to think about making the whiteboards movable. I thought about bringing my whiteboard cart on wheels outside but then again, I don’t know if they would be able to handle the terrain very well.
I could carry my large whiteboard and easel in hand but then again how do I quickly grab something we find on a walk, point things out to students or able to make my theatrical arm motions when I am talking about math with my students (a sight to see).
When I was setting up my lockers for my students and wondering what they would do with their backpacks I realized that back pack straps would be perfect solution to my problem as the straps make the whiteboard movable and allows me to use my hands but the problem of keeping it upright and at eye level became the issue.
I ended up finding an easel at Staples that disassembles quick and easy and can be stored in a small pouch which will allow me to set it up quickly when I need to and disassemble when we are moving on with our learning journey.
In order to make my Whiteboard backpack I took a large whiteboard that we usually use in the classroom for small group collaboration. I purchased these whiteboards a number of years ago from https://www.whiteboardsusa.com/.
I purchased backpack straps from Amazon. I thought about straps, string, etc… but if I am wearing it for hours at a time (as I am looking at spending the first two to three hours outside walking and learning around the school and community) I wanted something comfortable.
I placed tape on the four spots on the whiteboard where I wanted the clips to go through and use a drill to make holes wide enough to fit the clip. Make sure you drill slowly and from the whiteboard side as to not create chipping of the whiteboard.
And voilà you have your whiteboard backpack ready to go!
I have a leg bag/over the shoulder pouch coming next week where I will be able to store my easel, whiteboard markers, eraser and other materials I may need for outdoor math learning that day.
Fellow Saskatchewan mathematics teacher Nat Banting tweeted about his whiteboard backpack creation yesterday that will be used in his High School math classes.