Get a whiteboard
Posted by Joan King Salwen on 01.11.2010Share

In my 7th grade classroom, kids constantly ask to write on my whiteboard. I have Expo markers in every color of the rainbow and then some. I used to own scented dry erase markers (in flavors such as chocolate mint) but I found myself gagging, which got in the way of my teaching. Nonetheless, my school board is a magnet for messages, drawings and other self-expression. Kids like to create, erase and re-create.

That's why I think every household should have a whiteboard.

When working on our family project, we used a portable whiteboard to help bring our ideas to life. We carried it from the upstairs office to the screened porch or to the dining room as needed to help us capture our thinking. After all, thinking as a family (as opposed to thinking as an individual) requires several elements:

  • First, both younger voices and older voices must be heard. When brainstorming or sorting or ranking or anything, writing down everyone's ideas affirms and validates those concepts and the people who offered them. Every idea has merit when it is written in blue or black or orange or lilac.
  • Second, writing ideas on the board allows undeveloped or underdeveloped concepts to bloom and grow. The Project Zero team at Harvard's Graduate School of Education calls this process “making thinking visible.” Once ideas are externalized on the board, the kernels can be shaped and improved.
  • Third, writing ideas on the board preserves them so that further reflection and refinement can happen and so that family plans can be taken to the next step. Our family began each meeting by "reviewing the bidding": remembering the agreements we had made and the items that remained open. For example, once we had voted to make an investment in the developing world, we were able to document it, and later to confirm that organizations that served only U.S. populations were out of our scope. This helped us move forward and not re-plod over ground we'd already covered.

A whiteboard can make your work fun and accelerate your progress toward a democratic and workable family project.

I just finished your book; it is fabulous. It was quoted from during our Lenten Mission with two priests, Fr. Geoffrey Rose & Fr. Tom Helfrich; both from the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales of Toledo, OH. Both outstanding ministers. Geoff had rushed to get it as soon as it was released to use during this mission. I was inspired by what he told us and managed to locate it. My hat is off to you each and every one. Thank you for sharing. This is a book that I will be suggesting to everyone as a 'must read', something I seldom do; and never when it is inspirational and true. Both genres I seldom read; that might give you an idea of how much it impressed me. I'm looking at ways I can use it as a guide. Again, thank you and may God bless you all, however, I feel he's already done that very well, but I will pray for the continuation.
Posted by Joyce at 10:11pm on 03.05.2010

I've taken to painting an entire wall of my studio in chalkboard paint. Ideas, quotes, charts, drawings- all in brilliantly colorful chalk- inspire me daily and help me process ideas.
Posted by Cynthia at 04:44am on 01.13.2010