Chalk talk

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Ad from Cartoons magazine for the Bart Chalk-Talk program by C. L. Bartholomew

A chalk talk is a monologue presentation done while the speaker draws. It is usually done with chalk, hard crayon, or pastel, or with dry-erase markers on a whiteboard. The chalk talk method of teaching focuses on the blackboard and the lecturer's voice and also the activities – to be precise, the physical activities. This method can be preferred for presenting lectures and talks.


Illustration by Frank Beard in Bible symbols; designed and arranged to stimulate a greater interest in the study of the Bible by both young and old (1908)

Because of an article in the Deseret News published on September 17, 1895 the roots of "chalk talks" can be traced to the Methodist church -- and to a single individual, Mr. Frank Beard (1842-1905). Today chalk talks are still regularly used as a method of visual preaching by evangelists with artistic ability.[citation needed]

A book by Jeanne Bridge, "Chalk Talk for Catechists," gives an introduction to chalk talks as a catechetical method. The book describes a method of "speaking the message" by illustrating with simple chalk drawings, along with the talk, that highlight the main points of the lesson. The word which is predominant is at a lead together with the word [this phrase says nothing], so that the word and the picture may stand as one unit. According to Bridge, the main advantage of this method is that it can be used by people who are not good at drawing; she claims that those with little artistic ability but good speaking abilities are the most frequent users.[1]

Bridge's book she uses everyday dialect for a better understanding and gives simple examples to show how a wide variety of chalk figures can be built up from a basic 'figurine'. She also proposes a wide range of standard attitudes and gestures capable of depicting various situations.[2]


A chalk talk was a popular act in vaudeville. A performer used chalk on a blackboard to make changes in a drawing while delivering a monologue. Some performers would do caricatures of audience members. The term also was used to describe an act done with crayons. The term became ingrained in the language to the extent that a performance using markers and a sketch pad is still known today as a chalk talk.

Winsor McCay began doing vaudeville chalk talks in 1906.[3] In his The Seven Ages of Man vaudeville act, he drew two faces and progressively aged them.[4] Popular illustrator Vernon Grant was also known for his vaudeville circuit chalk talks.

The chalk talk format again gained attention in the 2000s in television advertisements for United Parcel Service. Andy Azula, the creative director for The Martin Agency, starred in a series of UPS advertisements in which he draws on a whiteboard.[5][6][7]


The teacher centers 'chalk and talk' approach with a focus on the average student in the class and this is the most common method of instruction. Among the various established method of instructions, the lecture is the easiest, the most accepted, the safest, the oldest and the most basic method[cite]. Adopting an interactive style in lectures can improve students assimilation of the subject. Keeping in mind the large amount of information, usually attempted to be pumped-in during the lecture, it is often said [by whom? Cite] that lecture is only one way of communication.[8] That is why the teacher should not restrict class to just ‘Talk’ but should attempt to use the 'Chalk' whenever possible. The 'Chalk' is included as an Audio-visual or other equipment used for demonstration, explanation or illustration, preparatory reading resources such as books, journals or even hand out in relation to the topic on which lecture is to be given and this 'chalk and talk' makes communication a two way method. The 'Chalk and Talk' method of Instruction remains the best, provided the teacher takes it upon themselves to bring around the students to learning.[9]


'Chalk and talk' teaching method is not enough says Rachel Thienk. It is said the teachers should not exclusively rely on this method to engage the students says an officer from the Ministry of Education. "Teachers who use the chalk and talk method need to use more teaching aids that can inspire student's interests in learning and also assist students in concept formation," said Dr Ee Ah Meng, consulting counselor at the ministry, during a talk at the Sayyidina Abu Bakar Secondary School. He said the teacher should not only depend on the lecture method but also use the two way communication in the classroom scenario. He also says some students are quick learners and takes time to acquire the simplest topic thus the teacher should make sure that the students are actively participating and all range of students are getting engaged in class. Dr Ee also emphasized that teaching methods should be child-centered and two-way communication a must. More activity-based approaches and class participation between the teacher and students should be adopted. He added, "When students are actively involved in a particular lesson, learning becomes more interesting and meaningful".[10]

Chalk talk and technology[edit]

The primary goal is to improve student's learning an effective one. The wish is to use technology to enhance the traditional chalk and talk lecture, not to replace it. Specifically the wish to improve the quality of the lecture and the quality of the notes taken by the students during the lecture with the coming of technology. As students learn more during the lecture and take better quality notes, they will be more productive during their homework and study time if it is improved with an appropriate technology.[11] The preparation time for lecture method is approximately the same as for a traditional chalk and talk lecture. Teacher can create the file, print one copy, and develop the lecture notes in approximately the same amount of time as developing traditional chalk and talk lecture notes on blank paper. Everyone know how to surf the web and use a word processor, so there is no new software that must be learned to use this lecture process. The classroom must have a projector that is mounted in the ceiling and shines on the board and a computer installed in the classroom that is networked so that the faculty member can use the technology conveniently.[12] Technology has become available in the last few years that makes it much easier to prepare the lecture notes. The teacher is able to spend more time with students during class and less time writing and drawing on the board. The students are able to spend more time thinking and less time on writing. In the end the teacher can feel they are providing a better learning experience to their students.[8]


Chalk talks formed the basis for early animated films, as seen in the films of J. Stuart Blackton and "Komikal Konjurer" Alfred E. Smith.[4]


Chalk Talk in academics is a silent way to construct collaborative mind-maps or other diagrams with the intent to "reflect, generate ideas, check on learning, develop projects, or solve problems."[citation needed]

Academic interviews[edit]

A chalk talk is often a part of the interview process for a faculty position in academia, wherein the candidates detail their research plans [13]


Chalk talks are often used by athletic coaches before and during games to diagram certain types of plays or strategies. This is very effective when game planning and making in-game adjustments because it creates a visual for the players.


  1. ^ "Chalk Talk for Catechists".
  2. ^ Neary, Rhoda. "Review". The Furrow. 19: 18–19. JSTOR 27660005.
  3. ^ Film reference: Winsor McCay
  4. ^ a b Stabile, Carol A. and Mark Harrison. Prime Time Animation: Television Animation and American Culture. Routledge, 2003.
  5. ^ Stevenson, Seth (2007-04-16). "Back to the Drawing Board". Slate.
  6. ^ Williamson, Richard (2007-03-19). "On the Spot: Martin's Azula". Adweek.
  7. ^ Lazare, Lewis (2007-03-02). "UPS ad does the white thing". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  8. ^ a b Graham, M. Robert. "Free School or Chalk Talk Time". The English Journal. 60: 754–759. JSTOR 812988.
  9. ^ "Chalk and Talk".
  10. ^ "Chalk and talk teaching method not enough". Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-09-25.
  11. ^ Harter, Cynthia Lay; Becker, William E.; Watts, Michael. "Who Teaches with More than Chalk and Talk?". Eastern Economic Journal. 25: 343–356. JSTOR 40325936.
  12. ^ Carroll, Douglas R. "Using Technology to Improve the Traditional Chalk and Talk Lecture" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04.
  13. ^ "DrugMonkey blog post".

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