eBeam Projection Meeting" style="border: medium none ; display: block;">Image by eBeam via FlickrI was asked to write an article last year for teachers who were just starting to use their IWB's and needed a bit of inspiration - The article has just been published in "The Ultimate Guide to Interactive Whiteboards 2010" which is distributed nationally to all schools. I'm just a little bit stoked by this as I thought it was only going to go in a trade magazine / catalogue.
Free subscriptions for the magazine are available here.
a PDF of the article is here
One of the conditions that I agreed to the article was that I could then publish it on my blog when it got published and distributed.
So here it is minus all the nice graphics that were put in by their talented graphics team.
Ten things to do with your interactive whiteboard
Disruptive uses of the IWB
Many teachers get stuck on using their IWB as a direct replacement for their regular whiteboard or blackboard – a way of writing up notes, key words and diagrams. Sometimes they might bring in a piece of clip art as a magnet. Don’t get me wrong the use of an IWB is great as a digital replacement for the whiteboard and the overhead projector. My handwriting lessons are that much better because of an IWB (and I’m left handed)
Teachers need to be able to go beyond that analogy of an “interactive whiteboard” and see the technology for what it really is – an interface for your computer that allows direct interaction with programs, images and video – visual data. The following is some ways to extend your use of your new interface.
Use it as your TV via a USB tuner or internet TV
For less than $100 you can get a digital tuner for your laptop. Depending on where you are, the portable aerial is sometimes all you need to pull down current terrestrial digital TV (if not see if there in an aerial port in your classroom – you might be surprised) . The best thing is that these tuners usually come with software which lets you time shift - perfect for pausing a broadcast to comment or deal with an interruption.
This is a great tool for dealing with a current issue as you can compare and contrast different news outlets and their response to current events. There is also something to be said for a time table – a deadline to be ready for – in this case a particular broadcast.
Once you have worked with and analysed the media it would be a natural extension to make your own TV news or show. There are a number of ways that you can do this from the low tech basic webcam and a sheet, to the set up of a mini TV studio in you classroom.
“Newsmaker” software is great for organising and creating a news report in an easy to use way. With a simple autocue and basic effects your students can create a professional looking broadcast with a very small learning curve.
Of course there are an enormous number of video on demand sites out there. www.teacherstv.com.au , its UK counterpart www.teachers.tv, www.TED.com for inspirational speakers and of course youtube. Make use of these resources, especially when they are free.
Be a commentator
You have probably seen it most in sports broadcasts - the use of the pause and annotate effect. In Australia it is often used for cricket matches to visually highlight areas of interest or direction of travel. You can use the same feature with your interactive whiteboard.
Imagine a movie or a recording of a play put on by your students. By pausing and annotating you can highlight areas of interest to you students. More importantly students can participate, drawing in their ideas and designs to make the next live performance better.
Hook it up to a Wii, xBox or PS3
Seriously the computing power behind these game consoles is phenomenal and it is all about the “experience” – harness that power. Kids love to show what they know – be able to demonstrate this to their class and with you asking important – how and why questions lets them explore their problem solving skills. With a range of educational games, bringing in the game console is not as revolutionary as you think. For starters you might want to try Big Brain Academy Wii Degree
Simulate Real world objects
I remember (a long time ago) as a practice teacher trying to get my hands on a range of MAB blocks to teach a class about decimals. Getting my hands on enough equipment took most of my lunch break and when I didn’t have enough even for a demonstration then my whole lesson took a turn for the worse.
Virtual manipulatives are therefore a stress less way of demonstrating real world objects without worrying about quantities. An example of easy to use, readymade collection for mathematics is the Mult-e-Maths toolbox. With things like clocks, scales, and aforementioned MAB blocks, teachers have access to the tools they need to demonstrate and explain key concepts without having to worry about whether another teacher has the required resources.
The internet also has a wide range of virtual manipulatives. One of my favourites for science is the popular Phet website from the University of Colorado, that can also be downloaded entirely via a zip file found on their site. With open ended tasks you can demonstrate a range of concepts and ask “what if” questions with the ability to answer them.
Use it as a microscope
For around $200 you can get good quality USB digital microscopes that hook up to your computer, and can get to X200 magnification. Brilliant for showing the whole class what you are talking about in real time with real stuff.
Another way of making the really small really big is to download the free Virtual Lab from NASA. With prepared slides from both optical and electron scanning microscopes it give you the ability to show your class things that you usually can’t get your hands on such as moon dust and heat shield tiles from the space shuttle.
Go for a ride
Did you know Google Earth has a flight mode? You can virtually fly over the world via your computer. When you team that up with the 3D layer available via the interface, you can fly through cities and landscapes. Imagine being able to take your students the Swiss Alps or fly past the New York skyline.
There are also a range of web based mash ups that take information from Google maps, street view, and earth; and let you create a drive through from one place to another. Drive through the streets of San Francisco , or follow route 66. It may even give your class the motivation to put more local buildings into the database using Google Sketchup.
Drive Smart is free software for Victorian students developed by Monash University, designed to help new drivers with scanning and hazard perception. Use this software with your older students to make them more aware on the roads as pedestrians, cyclists and future drivers. Again you can use annotations to visually mark the image to explain key points.
As a Star Trek fan, I am constantly amazed at how large amounts of the technology envisioned in that 60’s TV have come to pass. A video screen the size of Captain Kirk’s view screen is now in your classroom. So now you too can use video / audio communication across vast distances.
Skype and MSN have the ability to do video calls with free software and simple inexpensive webcams. Think about linking up your classroom with a counterpart in another state or country. Australia is in a great position as we share a time zone range with a diverse range of languages as you head north. Linking up an Australian Japanese class, with a Japanese English class would bring benefits that could only be achieved with an expensive field trip.
Student Response Systems
The IWB’s can have a detrimental effect in the classroom. You may find that the “sage on the stage” is back and your lessons start to get centred on you and the technology rather than the students and their learning.
SRS (Student Response Systems), used in the right way with an interactive whiteboard can have really positive effects in your classroom and make the classroom environment more participatory. Rockingham Senior High School have successfully done this in their science program, through the use of both eBeam portable IWB system and TurningPoint SRS
By integrating an SRS into your IWB use you can enable a continuous dialogue between you and your students. You can adapt your teaching and ensure understanding and cover learning styles. This combination makes for a truly interactive classroom, with the added ability to account for and monitor student interaction.
Use a document camera
Prices for document cameras have come down significantly. For around $600 you can get a good quality camera to bring documents and small realia and manipulatives to the big screen. It’s like having your old overhead projector back but updated to a digital form. The Epson DC06 even has a freeze button to hold the image while you move something else into place – useful for surprising your students.
They are not just for documents either, those pesky MAB blocks can be manipulated and used to great effect with every student being able to see. Take that idea further with science lessons as the camera can record and project your “on bench” experiment.
As I said before, there is a great temptation to be the didactic teacher when you have this type of technology. While it is fun to play with the toys, you will be surprised when you give your students the opportunity to try their hand at working on the board – and not just to write one word or to circle the mistake in a maths problem. Give groups of students control of the board for extended lengths of time, use your IWB as a station in a learning journey. Even just to brainstorm what they have learnt at the end of the day.Don’t be afraid of what is possible, experiment and play.