[Offtopic] An interactive whiteboard ... What next?
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Tue Nov 17 17:10:01 EST 2009
Spring 2009: Classrooms of the future
(and, especially good:) http://www.teachingchallenges.blogspot.com
An interactive whiteboard ... What next?
Interactive whiteboards open the door to many new learning possibilities.
Penny Ryder tackles the initial fear factor head on and shares ten tips
for starting out with interactive whiteboards.
Id been hearing about these things called 'interactive whiteboards' for
quite some time. Id had a chance to explore the features of one that was
on approval at my school, and even used it to play a game with my class.
To begin with it seemed like a waste of moneyan over-glorified
whiteboard. The following year, I got to share the use of one with two
other classes, but I used it only for 'special' lessons. Finally, a
couple of years later, I had access to my very own board. And I found
myself askingwhat next?
Ive now been using my board for two years, and it has become a tool I
wouldnt want to teach without. I have seen many ways that it can be used
to enhance teaching and learning, and I still continue to learn new
strategies to improve its implementation in my classroom. Ive put
together this list to help all those who are getting started, need
encouragement, or want to take things a bit further.
Ten tips for starting out with interactive whiteboards:
1.Turn it on at the start of the day.
If its not on, you wont use it. To save the life of the globe, you can
turn the projector off when its not being used, but I recommend turning
the computer on early in the day. While you are doing that, orient the
board to ensure your touches will be accurate. Once youve got it on, you
know you can turn to it at any time during the day just as you would to a
traditional whiteboard. Even better, you can use it to Google topics
relevant to your content, or reward early finishers with a game. Why not
start out the day by typing in a message for your students, giving them a
brain teaser or displaying a great artwork. They can be learning from
this while you attend to a myriad of administrative duties. Think of how
much extra learning you could cycle through in all that downtime between
2.Explore with your class.
Dont be intimidated by the board. Its capacity is only limited by its
user; its not smarter than you. Feel free to play and learn alongside
your students. While its always nice to be a couple of steps ahead of
them, a lot of great learning moments also happen when you discover
things together. Your students will most probably laugh when you
accidentally write while holding the eraser and thus dont write at all,
but laugh along with them and keep on going. When things go wrong and you
need to troubleshoot, ask for their suggestions one at a time and try
them out. This teaches them how to solve the problems they face. Also be
prepared to go with Plan B when youve exhausted all your ideas.
It doesnt have to be prettybut it can be! You can invest a lot of time
into designing pages with your interactive whiteboard, or once you are
aware of whats there, you can use it on the go. Im of the opinion that
I shouldnt spend more time creating the lesson than teaching the lesson,
particularly if Im unlikely to use the lesson again. If, on the other
hand, there are some core activities that you would like students to do
or access as part of their weekly routines, its probably worth investing
some time into making these look attractive.
4.Select the tool for the job.
Keep in mind that your interactive whiteboard is linked to a computer
that probably has a bunch of new and exciting software on it. Spend time
getting to know the available software. Learn what it does and what it
could be used for. Your goal, over time, is going to be to model how to
use this software as you go about teaching your content. For example, if
you need to create a graph, you dont want to draw the graph from
scratch. Instead, type the data into a Microsoft Excel document and show
students how to create a graph in this way. With the same data you can
explore and demonstrate different ways to present data using alternative
graphing functions to determine which is best for presenting specific
5.Think out loud.
Just as we model our reading and writing so that students can see how
readers and writers solve problems with their work, it is important to
model your use of information and communications technology (ICT). Talk
through the steps you take when using a program. Students then have the
opportunity to both see and hear the process. Inform them of the short
cuts you use, for example Control +C for copy and Control +V for paste.
The more you model these options for them, the more proficient they will
become when using their computers.
Using computer games in the classroom can be a strategy to get started,
particularly when beginning a new topic, but be selective about the games
you choose. Be mindful of what students are learning through them. If you
are using them only to engage your students in the topic you are
covering, then only use them for five to ten minutes. Most games are for
one or two players, so in order to keep everyone focused, I select a
variety of students to take turns. For those students not having a turn,
I get students to write the answers with their finger on the carpet in
front of them or on individual whiteboards. Another solution is to use
the interactive whiteboard as a group activity so that students explore
the game in smaller groups. This strategy can be used as a reward and
also for consolidating a concept.
7.Display different media.
Make the most of online media to bring the world into your classroom.
Spend some time finding photographs, audio files, videos, websites and
interactive activities related to your topic. The edna website
(www.edna.edu.au), and The Le at rning Federation
(www.thelearningfederation.edu.au) are great places to start for
educational resources, but dont forget to check out other public spaces
like YouTube (www.youtube.com), TeacherTube (www.teachertube.com) and
Flickr (www.flickr.com) for additional resources shared by the public.
You will need to test whether these sites are blocked in your school.
Your interactive whiteboard is going to be a big part of your day. Spend
some time personalising it to suit your needs. Think about what you are
already doing with your teaching and consider how the interactive
whiteboard can help you to do this more effectively. If you need software
that isnt available, speak to your technical administrator to see what
can be done. Dont be afraid to ask for what you need. Be sure to put
photos of your students up on the board toothey love to see themselves
on the big screen and it helps to build that positive classroom
9.Increase student touches.
Consider ways to involve students in what is happening at the board. Yes,
the interactive whiteboard is costly, and yes, it will probably get dirty
if students use it, but its not truly interactive if the teacher is the
only one to use it! Encourage students to be creative and to share their
ideas using this tool.
10.Plug in some extras.
Use your USB ports. There are many tools you can attach to your
interactive whiteboard computer to upload information. Take photos with a
digital camera and use these to reflect on learning moments. Use a webcam
set up on a lamp stand or with a science clamp to function as a document
camera. Scan a students writing (with permission) and use it as a
discussion piece for modelling a skill or understanding.
Using an interactive whiteboard may be new to you, but it doesnt need to
be hard. Remember to set goals for yourself and take small steps to
achieve these. Before long, you will become so familiar with it that you
will wonder how you ever taught without it. Experiment. Explore. Enjoy!
Penny Ryder is a primary school teacher in the ACT. She maintains the
Teaching Challenges blog at www.teachingchallenges.blogspot.com
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