Sir! You can’t write on the desk!

How many times have you chastised students for writing on a desk? To them, it’s a bit rebellious and more than likely boredom. Let’s innovate this and make it into conducive learning, without leaving graffiti everywhere!

You can imagine the surprise when one Friday morning I started demonstrating a practical and then with my whiteboard markers starter annotating on the desk! I use liquid ink whiteboard markers from Pilot Pens (they come in a chisel or rounded nib and you can bulk buy a box with refills for considerable saving, I think you can also get them elsewhere online but as a dept. we order boxes for us all in different colours. I usually use them on a standard whiteboard but I discovered you can write on practically any solid surface with them and they will wipe off!

If you’re worried that some whiteboard cleaner/acetone won’t remove the ink, then you could always do something like this (IMAGE) This is my planning for next years new A-Level Chemistry on my desk, printed the specification and some sticky back plastic over the top!

White paper (unless you desks are already white) with some sticky back plastic over the top. I tend to do this on the desks I regularly demonstrate on as my lab benches are the old wooden ones, which are slightly absorbent.


Small classes are brilliant with this, especially those you can trust/manage easily.

Give each group a window in your room and tell them this is your exercise book for todays lesson. Give them all one of the pens and away you go! I got mine to storyboard a terminal velocity example, then put a mark scheme on the board and followed up by asking them to move around the room to do this.

A few staff including the caretakers thought it was very odd, but if you could have seen the excitement and engagement I got from that bottom set year 8 class studying a rather dull topic, anyone who observed have couldn’t have said it was anything but wonderful!

Allow students to write down observations if you have a transparent fume cupboard with sides or even on the front, again its engaging and shows formative assessment which shows progress!

As ever responses always welcome, let me know if you use anything similar.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Mac Harasymiw and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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  1. Love it! I recently discovered magic whiteboard film that I can put on the desks/walls/windows for group work, which I can then save for the next lesson or pass around to another group or class. Best. Invention. Ever.

  2. This works well with SEN pupils, prevents them getting distracted by looking up at the board; also useful to provide literacy spelling support, spellings can be given quietly and discreetly to the individual. Individual whiteboards can be made by laminating sheets of paper, allowing different colour backgrounds to be used for dyslexic pupils.

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