As a teacher, you may ask:
“Does it really matter how I organize my examples on the board?”
How you spatially lay out rules, examples, and vocabulary is very important for your students.
Teachers come to realize very quickly that each student has a different way of organizing his or her ideas. What’s written down in a student’s notebook can be very different from the organization provided in the textbook, for example. Teachers also present information in their own way, changing the order and writing examples according to their own preferences.
Everyone has their own style, and there is no single correct way to present examples and rules. But, there is one key that teachers can keep in mind when they think about spatial organization on the board, and that is to be consistent.
When you teach, you don’t always have a white board or easel. Sometimes you only have a notebook or a sheet of paper. But even so, you can develop your own organizational style and maintain it. This is especially important for beginner-level students who are assimilating a large quantity of new information in each class!
It’s useful to make an imaginary division of the white board or notebook. Take a moment to think about the different things you need to write on the board. Grammar explanations are very common, as are illustrative examples. We also often make lists of student ideas and examples from brainstorming sessions or grammar and vocabulary practice.
It can also be helpful to keep a running list of new vocabulary words or expressions that come up spontaneously in class. This happens when a student asks you for an expression, or when you find a word or phrase in an activity that is new for your students.
Make a plan for yourself with these different topics in mind. For example, you could write all the grammar rules and examples on the left-hand side of the board, all the students’ examples in the center, and begin a vocabulary list on the right-hand side. If you are using a notebook or easel, it’s a good idea to separate these topics onto different pages. This makes it much easier for the student to go back and check later.
Now that you have a plan, stick to it! You’ll notice that your students intuitively know where to look for information. When they want to make an example, they’ll look at the grammar area. When they want to use a new word, they’ll check the vocabulary area. They know it will be the same in each class.
Finally, many teachers like to use one of the corners to write a list of the topics and activities to be covered. This can be more useful for large groups and lower levels, where a clear and concise class structure makes everything flow more smoothly. Of course, this is optional and depends on your own style! The most important thing is to maintain your own personal layout so that your students can easily understand and locate the information you present.