Capturing students’ contributions on the board

While slides can be helpful for displaying class material, they also tend to be static and relatively passive. Conversely, co-constructing knowledge on the board with students can help make definitions and key concepts come alive. In this video, Paola Arlotta describes how recording students’ ideas on the board engages them in collaboratively “building the class material” and involves them more deeply in the learning process.


Paola Arlotta, Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

Student Group



Harvard College


Got (New) Brain? The Evolution of Brain Regeneration

Group Size

22 students

  • Before class, plan how you intend to structure course content on the board. You might “pre-board” information in advance of class or jot down ideas more organically as they surface  in discussion. Either way, a better-organized board is more likely to result from some advanced planning.
  • Instead of just presenting a definition, ask students to define the concept in their own words first. As students respond, record their ideas on the board so that students feel heard and valued for their contributions.
  • Use the board to organize and connect ideas and to emphasize particularly important ones. Arrows, circles, and underlines draw student attention to key points.
  • Elaborations and student explanations have been associated with positive learning outcomes.  This suggests that creating an environment that promotes and values student contributions can enhance student understanding (Kuhn & Dean, 2010).