Three sophomores are chatting and scribbling on the tables with markers during math class. The teacher notices what they are doing and quickly walks over.
“Do you need help?” asks high school teacher Lauren Pizzolla.
The students are in an Algebra 2/Trigonometry class and writing on the desks has become not only acceptable but encouraged. The three small tables have whiteboards for surfaces and the students finding working together much easier.
“They’re easier to write out work and to help someone else without ruining their paper,” says Sara Murphy. “In the past we’d have to walk over with our notebooks and lean over to help.”
Pizzolla got the idea for the whiteboard tables from a teacher she follows on Instagram. She applied for and received the tables through a mini grant from the Somers High School Parent Teacher Association, all within six weeks.
“I do group activities all the time,” says Pizzolla. “And with students back in school full time, I wanted to figure out how to make everyone comfortable sharing work and talking to each other. Visually it’s easier for them to see their work, and it is more engaging and fun.”
“We can all be writing the same equation without having to write in each other’s notebooks and we can all see the work at once,” says Rachel Dahling.
Pizzolla says she has noticed a great deal more collaboration when students are at the tables, including from kids who are resistant to working in groups. The students say they would like to use whiteboard tables in other subjects, such as in chemistry for writing formulas and in world languages for learning verb conjugations.