“Reading in technicolor”: Using online whiteboards for reading review

Image courtesy of Rowen Atkinson

Image courtesy of Rowen Atkinson

I don’t ever recall writing on any walls as a child, but many people have to deal with this on a regular basis. In this reading exercise, I am asking students to use their creative side to draw on their understanding of an assigned reading. I have students respond to a topic based on a text they have previously read by ‘drawing’ on an online whiteboard.


  • Collaboration: Students in groups work to recall information from the text.
  • Interaction with the text: Students are required to summarize and expand on the information they gathered from the text.
  • Give opinions: Students give opinions on what other students are saying regarding the text.
  • Comprehension: Students show that they understand the text without being singled out.
  • Online whiteboard: There are a number of good free online whiteboards, but for this demonstration, I will use Awwapp.
  • Online document: I would suggest using something like TitanPad to post the URL addresses for each whiteboard.
  • Large display: This can be an interactive whiteboard (IWB) or computer with projector.
  1. Give students a text to read either in class or for homework.
  2. Create a series of questions based on topics from the text. Some of these can simply be information based, but some should allow students to share their opinions regarding what they read in text.
  3. Go to Awwapp and click on ‘Start drawing’ and a new blank whiteboard is created.
  4. Choose a colour by clicking ‘Color’. This colour should be different than that of the other groups. I would suggest black.
  5. Click on ‘Pencil’ and then select ‘Text’ from the pull-out menu. Click the crosshairs near the top of the page and a box will pop-up. Type in the first question and click ‘OK’.
  6. Click on ‘Menu’ and then ‘Invite’. A new box will appear with a URL address. Copy this address and click ‘OK’. Close this window.
  7. Create a new document using TitanPad and paste the address onto the page.
  8. Repeat steps 3-7 for each question you have created. Assign a number for each address you paste on the page.
  9. Put students into groups of 3-5 students and assign each group a different URL to start with. Give each group a different colour based on the pen colours in Awwapp (red, green, blue, yellow, brown, or purple).
  10. Each group opens their assigned page and selects their colour, chooses the text tool, and type in an answer on the page. They are also welcome to do SOME decorating (eg. underlining, illustrating, etc.) using the drawing tools, but must leave room for other students to write and draw as well.
  11. Once each team is done responding, they choose the next address on the list and a different person in the group answers that questions. This continues until all the questions are completed and each person in the group has been able to answer at least one question. Students are encouraged to help each other with the questions.
  12. Once all the teams are done, the class goes over the different questions / whiteboards on the large screen together. Students can ask questions about the other teams’ answers.
  13. Students can then go back and re-read the text based on the information that they gathered from the exercise.
  • To make sure everyone finishes together, it is a good idea to set a time limit for each question.
  • The teacher can monitor each board by going to the address as students are working on it. This allows them to not feel like the teacher is putting pressure on them by being physically close to them, yet the teacher can still monitor what is happening.
  • This can also be used as a pre-reading exercise using the knowledge the students already have on the subject.

Have you ever used this type of exercise before? How did it work for you? Do you have anything to add? You can share your comments below, send me a Tweet at @nathanghall, or you can email me using the contact form on this webpage. Thank you!


One thought on ““Reading in technicolor”: Using online whiteboards for reading review

  1. Pingback: 13+ Free Online Whiteboard/Corkboard Sites That Don’t Need Student Registration | Nathan Hall

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