Effective Chalkboard Teaching


By: Arlo E. Moeholenpah


The most flexible instrument of instruction available next to the voice is the chalkboard. It is also perhaps the most widely-used training aid. During World War II the newspapers carried a picture of General
Montgomery right in the front lines explaining a plan of attack on a portable chalkboard to his officers. It is felt that if this teaching aid was important enough to carry to the battlefield, we ought to consider its importance.

There are several excuses for not using the chalkboard in teaching. One often given is “I can’t draw.” This indicates a narrow conception of what can be done with the chalkboard. It implies that the chalkboard can
only be used for diagrams and drawings. It also implies that the instructor must be an artist to do a good job with the chalkboard. One does not need to be an artist to illustrate that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Another excuse given in “My handwriting is pretty bad.” Actually, writing or printing on a vertical surface is easier than on a horizontal surface. One also should keep in mind that our objective is to convey truth and not impress with artistic ability. A student remembers longer what he both sees and hears than what he hears alone. “Chalkboard work takes too much time” might also be offered as an excuse for not using
the chalkboard. There is a great difference between “covering” a subject and “teaching” it. It is much better to “cover” less and “teach” something than to “cover” much and “teach” nothing. If the students fail
to learn, the teacher has not taught. Time can be conserved in class by preparing detailed work in advance and revealing it when needed.

Some advantages of the chalkboard are as follows:

1. Convenient.

No equipment heavier than a piece of chalk is required. Just turn  around and draw as ideas come.

2. Adaptable.

Work can be tailor-made to fit any type of teaching problem.

3. Active.

The teacher’s movement creates variety. The student has the feeling  of having participated.

4. Progressive.

The teacher can focus attention exactly where he wants it. Students see the presentation unfolding before their eyes. The technique to be  utilized is first, introduce a point orally, then write or illustrate it on the chalkboard, and afterwards explain or discuss it.


Some Christians only want to give their hands to God’s service when God actually wants their whole heart. This can be developed progressively on the chalkboard by first telling the story of a man whose clock would not run.

He gave the jeweler only the clock hands and expected him to fix the whole clock.

In planning chalkboard work, the following questions should be asked:

1. What parts of the lesson are important?
2. What diagrams should be utilized?
3. How can I help the students take notes? It might help to outline your lesson.
4. Will it consume too much time?

Perhaps the material ought to be mimeographed as a handout.

5. What will it look like? It is a good idea to actually practice the work on the blackboard before teaching. A good substitute is to experiment with the layout on a proportioned sheet of paper.


The following is presented as a checklist on How to Use the Blackboard.

1. Check to see that equipment such as chalk, rulers, and erasers are in the room.

2. Check on glare.

Install adequate light fixtures and make sure the shades are working. Green chalkboards with yellow chalk result in less glare than do blackboards with white chalk.

3. Wash the chalkboard before starting the class.

4. Plan in advance. Show the layout of the chalkboard work in your lesson plan.

5. Use titles. Some students come in late and others occasionally daydream. Titles will help them to capture the thought.

6. Be accurate.

Look up the spelling of words and check your facts.

7. Be concise.

A phrase is better than a sentence.
A word is better than a phrase.
An illustration is better than a word.

8. Use Animation.

9. Write legibly.

a. Strive for neatness
b. Write clear enough – large and hard
c. Don’t mix writing and printing on the Chalkboard except for emphasis.
d. DON’T MiX UPpeR AnD LOWER CaSE letters arbitrarily on the chalkboard.

10. Don’t Crowd Your Work.

11. Use Emphasis and Variety.

b. Underline
c. Use Color. (Some colors don’t show up clearly. Try them in advance.)

12. Prepare Complicated Illustrations Beforehand-and cover with paper.

13. Use a Pointer.

Avoid standing in front of the chalkboard when class is taking notes.

14. Allow Adequate Time for Note Taking.

Don’t write with one hand and earse with the other.

15. Erase Unrelated Material

Otherwise, the unrelated material tends to be a distraction.

16. Avoid Talking to the Chalkboard.

A poor planner has to concentrate on the material to avoid making an error and thus turns his back to the audience.

17. Use Mechanical Aids.

a. Rulers or boards can be used to draw straight lines or graphs.
b. A string, compass, or can lid can be used to draw circles.
c. Music lines can be painted on the blackboard in rooms used exclusively for music teaching.


(The original publisher of the above material is unknown.)

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