So you have an interactive whiteboard in your class. Good to know. But are you actually using all its potential (and of course that of the kids) to engage your students?
Lots of teachers have the board but use it as they would a normal whiteboard. A method of teaching that won’t work with our tech savvy students anymore. But hey, there’s tons of stuff you can use your board for to actually engage your students because after all, it encourages your students to participate more in the lesson, creates an interesting and enthusiastic atmosphere, and leads to more enjoyable lessons.
So lets go over why we brought the interactive board in our class in the first place:
- There is a diversity of teaching strategies.
- There are multiple opportunities for learning.
- The student, not the teacher, is in “control” of learning. (This one’s my favorite!)
- Peer learning is optimized.
- Feedback is optimized.
- And all of this should result in better teaching and better student grades
Well, are we actually achieving all of this? If you’re not, here are some tips on how to reach your teaching goals:
- Group note taking
Use the board as you would your plain old regular whiteboard, but with one difference. SAVE the notes! Encourage your students to come up and jot down a few discoveries they make during independent work time or notes that might help the rest of the class on a particular topic or project. And here’s the best part! You can save the notes at the end of the class—you now have a digital record of the day’s learning! Print out the notes or publish them as a PDF to your website for later student use.
- Online interactives
It’s tough to find time to learn all the bells and whistles of your IWB’s software, so tap into the thousands of online flash-based activities and interactives that are already available. Below are a few of my favorites:
- Starfall.com – Interactive multimedia books, complete with narration, make this website a great fit for IWBs.
- National Library of Virtual Manipulatives – Interactive digital tools for exploring data, algebra, geometry and more can be found here ready to be “played” with on your IWB.
- Interactive Whiteboard Resources from Topmarks – a useful UK-based website that includes an index of dozens of websites, online activities and web-based resources that play nicely with many IWBs.
- Check your vendor’s lesson sharing community
Most of the IWB vendors now have interactive resource and lesson sharing communities to help teachers find new ways to use their boards. All of the sites listed below not only have great resources for your particular software and vendor, but they also have forums, blogs and other community features that allow you to connect with other educators using the same products as you.
- Promethean Planet – Download interactive “flipcharts,” search through interactive web links and find images, sounds and movie resources in downloadable resource packs for Promethean ActivInspire software.
- SMART Exchange – Download SMART “notebooks,” connect with other teachers and find lessons tied to your standards. You can also create notebooks online using the SMART Express site and then save them directly to your computer.
- WizTeach Share – A fledgling teacher community for those using the interactive WizTeach software. Download lessons, contribute lessons you’ve made yourself or visit the forum to discuss with other teachers.
- Put your students in control
Now its time to turn the IWB over to your students. Pull up one of the lessons you’ve downloaded from your vendor’s lesson plan sharing community and let your students work in small groups with the IWB. If you use an interactive lesson that you’ve already used in class, it can serve as a practice or reinforcement tool. Often students love to repeat interactive lessons when they’re the ones doing the “driving.” So put your students in control!
- Games, Games and more Games!
We all know that almost everyone loves games. Mix some gaming elements with study materials and you can begin to encourage students to create their own interactive learning resources. Students will create fully functioning interactive mazes, matching games and other games using the IWBs at school. By manipulating the learning material and exploring how to integrate it within a game or simulation, the students are exposed to the content in new ways over an extended period of time. Allow students to use your tools to see what they can create, but give them some guidelines. For example:
- The activity must include text and image, and may include video (most IWB software allows for video embedding)
- The activity must be able to be completed in one class period
- The activity must cover all important learning objectives and/or vocabulary for a unit
- Record your lessons
Being able to make a lesson more interactive through your IWB’s tools is a huge boon to engagement in your classroom, but being able to capture the learning experience to share with students is even better. There are tons of free screen recording tools available on the web. Jing, Screencast-o-Matic or Quicktime X included with new Macs are all ways to capture what’s happening on your computer screen. Have students capture what they’re doing on their computers, or capture something on your own machine, and then embed the video into your flipchart, notebook or other IWB presentation software. Now you’ve got powerful firsthand full video learning experiences embedded directly into your lesson!
So there you have it! You’ll see that students are much more willing to get involved in what you do as a class. Many of the students who would normally just sit and listen will be willing to get involved and will come up and use the board. So remember, if you just turn the board on it doesn’t do anything to involve them.
Sources: Ben Rimes, The Tech Savvy Educator.