The blackboard . One of the most widely used teaching aids in the world is the blackboard, it is so common in schools that some specialists consider it to be school equipment, that is, without it you cannot speak of school. Some characteristics of its construction, location, and recommendations for its efficient use are explained below.


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  • 1 Origin
  • 2 Construction
  • 3 Classroom location
  • 4 Recommendations for the best use
  • 5 Perforated patterns
  • 6 See also
  • 7 Sources


The term “slate”, in Spanish, identifies a gray metamorphic rock that breaks into flat slabs that have been used since ancient times in European countries , mainly for roofing and also to build pencils and writing boards. Hence the designation of “blackboard” or “blackboard” to the board that was made with that material and later to any board or wax that was used for those purposes.

It is so common to identify the blackboard with a classroom, that if we look at a photograph of a group of people under a tree, we may think that it is a meeting of any kind, but if a blackboard is present, we immediately identify that activity with a teaching-learning process, although the other traditional elements of the classroom are missing, including the furniture, the walls and the ceiling.

For this reason, in accordance with this series of articles on teaching media, promoted by the Association of Pedagogues of Cuba, we will dedicate this space to recommending some measures for the best use of this ancient and effective medium.


Today the slates are made of various materials, which can be rubberized wooden boards, pressed cardboard sheets, metal sheets, plastic sheets, etc. Many of them are covered with special paint, so-called “slate paint”, which is thick and has a matte finish to avoid reflections on the slate. The predominant colors can be green, black or gray.

As for its construction, the most traditional ones are shaped like a rectangle, generally with a wooden or metal frame. They can be provided with shelves or boxes at the bottom to store the draft or the chalk with which they are written on. There are other more elaborate ones that have sliding pieces that hide parts of the content and increase the useful surface. There are sections that go up and down, a book that can be opened, an accordion that folds, translucent in those that project from behind, acrylic, etc.

Although most lean against the front wall of the classroom, some have their own supports that make them very mobile and can be used for makeshift classrooms, such as a meeting room and others. There are blackboards that are used as bulletin boards, but here we will only refer to those that have a teaching use.

The most common means of writing on blackboards are chalk , a kind of pencil made from a paste of plaster. The chalks are made in white and in various colors. Today, the most modern blackboards are made of white plastic, and are written on them with special colored down pens that remove the dust generated by the chalks, one of its main disadvantages. These types of blackboards are expensive, as are the writing materials on them, so they are not common in underdeveloped countries.

Location in the classroom

The blackboards, within the means of teaching for direct use, belong to the so-called didactic boards, among which are the flannel-maker, the table of folds or composer, the plastigrapher and others. Its location is extremely important in front of the classroom. Most experts say that its bottom edge should be at the level of the shoulders of the seated students, since what is written below will be in the “blind area” of the board. In other words, it cannot be read by students.

Obviously, by following this recommendation, it turns out that the board is a little high and if we consider that a large part of the teachers are women, the upper part also becomes a wasted area. To remedy this problem, wooden or slab platforms are built in which the teacher and students can go up to write on the board.

Another alternative has also been sought by making the board narrower, but longer, which gives the teacher a greater useful work surface. This last solution sometimes has not been very happy, because the students located at the front ends, cannot see what is written on the opposite end of the board, if they are very close to it and also the reflections of doors and windows Laterals make observation difficult.

In other words, the location and size of the blackboard must respond to the characteristics of the classroom, the teachers and the students who will write in it, aiming at the greatest and best possible visibility.

Recommendations for the best use

  • Clean the board thoroughly before starting to use it. Erasing is done from the top down, vertically and lifting the eraser on reaching the bottom to generate as little dust as possible. Teach your students how to erase correctly.
  • Write first the central elements that must remain at all times in your teaching activity, such as the date, name of the subject, etc.
  • Plan your activity on the board if possible. Remember that the drawings, diagrams, etc. require time. For drawing lines, figures, etc. use instruments that are specially made for this purpose, such as rulers, squares, semicircles and slate compasses. Don’t rely on improvisation and freehand drawing if you don’t have the skills to do it.
  • When you finish writing on the board, stand to one side so as not to hinder the observation of the students. Give them time to copy the information.
  • Use clear, appropriately sized font. A minimum height of 5 cm is recommended for lowercase letters. Practice to avoid “dropping” the lines. Use upper and lower case as optimal perception has been shown to be achieved when the profile is more uneven.
  • Leave one letter space between words, avoid crowding words, especially when approaching extremes. Remember that you cannot “justify” the lines on the board like a computer does. Teach your students to correctly separate the words at the end of the line.
  • Give up the habit of reading everything you write on the board, so you don’t teach your students how to spell well. You should also not read what you are writing, write silently, stand aside and then comment or expand on what you wrote or drew. It is important to keep your mouth closed while writing or erasing as chalk dust is irritating to the throat.
  • Do not completely fill the board, it is always convenient to leave spaces for a term, date, number, etc. that arises as an accessory explanation. Avoid pointing fingers, use a pointer or, failing that, use a ruler, pencil or other object that allows you to separate yourself from what you are pointing at to improve the visibility of your students.
  • Do not keep the information on the board for longer than necessary. Remember that it distracts students. When you finish your class, erase or have the blackboard erased to hand it over to the next teacher.
  • The decorations, posters, photographs, etc. around the board they are unnecessary, since they tend to divert the attention of the students, unless they are specifically oriented by the corresponding pedagogical instances.

Perforated patterns

When complex drawings, map silhouettes, and other graphic elements need to be traced on the board and the teacher does not have the skills to do so, he or she can use perforated patterns. On a cardboard sheet, cardboard or thick paper of suitable size, trace the drawing you want to make on the board.

It does not matter if it is already written or printed as a poster , for example, then the main lines begin to make perforations with a punch or nail, separated by approximately one or two centimeters, so that when we put it against the light we can perfectly distinguish the silhouette.

At class time, he puts the pattern on the board and shakes the eraser, tapping it on the punctured lines, trying not to pick up too much dust. When we remove the pattern we have a series of white dots on the board that we can join with lines and we already have our drawing quickly and appropriately. It is a way of rationally using time and taking advantage of many posters and posters that become obsolete after they have fulfilled the function for which they were designed.


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