Whiteboard Equation Solving

You can use water-based markers on a whiteboard

It was a happy accident last year. A student (or maybe it was me I don’t actually remember) wrote on our classroom whiteboard in marker. Not dry erase marker. Oh dear!! We’ll have marker on our board forever, I thought. Before panicking though I grabbed some paper towels and a water spray bottle and was so happy to see that it came off!!

This mistake prompted me to use it as a teaching tool in the classroom.

How to mix water-based markers & dry erase in class

If you are doing something that you find yourself having to re-write on the board every period, AND you want to cycle all the students through something, this technique works really well.

For this class period, we were working on solving 2 step equation word problems. I set the class up this way.

  • 2 groups worked on writing and solving their own word problems modeling them from one of 4 types. This means they changed the numbers, names, situations etc for the problems to make them unique to them.
  • The other two groups were at the board solving one of two word problems as a team. They were able to underline, circle and mark up however they wanted. When they finished the problem, they checked in with me to see if they were correct.

Check out some short video clips from some of our classes.

Using the word problems

My plan for after this day was to use the word problems the kids wrote. I took pictures of their problems and solutions and then went to write them up and use them as our “Do Now” aka warm-up to kick off class. We used two of them the day after this activity and kids were really successful!! Notes were allowed as was collaboration with shoulder partners.

My long-term plan with this is to sprinkle them in for a few weeks, weaning them from the use of notes and then from collaboration.

Here are some of our problems. You’ll notice that some are solved correctly, some are very realistic, and some not so much. Some of them are solved incorrectly but everyone tried to write a word problem modeled after what I had written for them. Select a picture to view it at a size where you can read all the words and then scroll through. There is one problem that shows all the steps that I had written on the board for them. This is some great note-taking!!