Interactive Whiteboard Tools for Student Participation

Learning students’ names is one of my priorities at the start of every year. Being in a new place last year I focused more on the names of our primary students. If I learned a fifth-grade name it was usually very good or very bad! This year I want to do a better job all around.

My best strategy is to assign students a seat on our carpet that has squares and to keep track on a clipboard chart. I always write my seating chart in pencil. This is because I want to be able to move students as needed without having the chart get too messy through the year. You could do the same thing with a laminated sheet and a dry erase marker.

This week I found an electronic tool on Pinterest that I can’t wait to try out! Super Teacher Tools has an Instant Classroom (free registration) for managing student participation. Three tools are included: Seating Charts, Random Name Generator, and Random Group Distribution. Each of these tools looks promising for my classes.

Seating Charts

I can create a seating chart that can be displayed on the interactive whiteboard for each class as they come in.

Seating Chart

Random Name Generator

Since I don’t know all of my students that well I sometimes found myself saying, “Yes–you–the one I’m pointing at–yes! Your turn!” Now I can flash up randomly generated names for contributions to a discussion or for turns at an activity. This really will be helpful when we’re doing an activity where students aren’t in their usual seats.

Random Name Generator

At a recent workshop I learned that there are similar apps if you like to use your phone or tablet during class. One is Teacher’s Pick for iphone. It does cost $0.99, but is a solid simple tool for generating student names. You can quickly set students absent for the day so their name will not be included.

Group Distribution

Random Group Distribution

Even though these tools don’t have student personality, skill level, or interests programmed in, it’s at least a starting point for assigning student groups. I can quickly add post its to each group title to give a location or task assignment if needed.

Instant Classroom is a free registration. Registration is simple and doesn’t require a lot of personal information. It allows users to input as many groups as you need. This is great for librarians, because we often teach far more classes than ‘regular’ teachers. You can include up to 100 students in each group. Wow! Again, fantastic for libraries that might instruct larger groups.


  1. I think the random name-picker is a great tool that any teacher should have. It will ensure that all the students study their lessons the night before and do all their homework, so that they are prepared to be called on. Students become lax when they see that only a handful of people are usually called on, but with a random name generator, anyone can be called on at anytime. This means that they should all be prepared, so as not to hold up the lesson.

    Sam Jephson

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