At the start of last week I wrote a post called Me, a SMART Board and some language teaching: A Commitment and declared that April was indeed Interactive Whiteboard Month here at technoLOTE. I put the call out for anyone to take the challenge of coming up with two new ways to use their SMART Board (or other IWB) each week as well as a few other points. I was really pleased to have 3 people willing to take the challenge with me. They are: Isabelle Jones of My Languages, Helena Butterfield of The Langwitch Chronicles and Marie-France Perkins of Sans Problemes!
Each Wednesday I will post my ‘Wednesday Whiteboard Workout’ where I will write about how I’ve met the challenge this week. Isabelle wrote that she will post something similar on Fridays.
Before I write my ‘workout’ post (which is due today and it’s already 10:34 pm!) I will finish off this post by including something I wrote about IWBs lately. I was asked by a colleague to share some thoughts and here they are:
The two biggest advantages of teaching with an IWB are increased student engagement (because the students are all dying to get their hands on the board and are eager to watch anything thatâ€™s happening on it) and the ability to cater more effectively for kinaesthetic learners
Aspects of using an IWB such as the ability to show anything thatâ€™s on your computer to the whole class easily and add notes to whatever it is you or the students are demonstrating as well as being able to save studentsâ€™ work and class notes / explanations straight away and use them for other classes are fantastic advantages but I think they are secondary to engagement and catering for different learning styles.
The IWB has allowed me to use more computer programs with my students that otherwise would not have been impossible to access, but not as easy. Itâ€™s fantastic to have a group of students playing a game or completing an online activity together on a big surface.
Having a whiteboard hasnâ€™t changed my classroom in any physical way, but I do have the younger primary classes charging in and plonking themselves down right in front of it most lessons rather than taking seats at the tables. Iâ€™ve had to put a line of tape on the floor so that if I am the one standing at the board, they arenâ€™t sitting on my feet!
My students love the IWB in my classroom. One of the shortcomings is that we only have one! I think an ideal situation would be to have one on each wall of the classroom to create a more group-centred learning environment. Unless you are careful, using an IWB can be a very teacher-centred event that allows only one or two students to have access at a time while others look on. I try to make IWB activities one of several activities that are happening in the classroom at any given time. As a language teacher, one of my favourite things to do with the IWB is to record myself saying single words, and then having the students drag these sound recordings into order to make a sentence as an audio translation activity.
Even though I know there is a lot more I can do with the IWB in my classroom and I am trying to find more innovative ways to use it, I can see that there are other teachers who simply donâ€™t understand the potential of it. I have had on several occasions been asked to swap out of my room, or if my room is available so that a teacher can show a DVD. I have only been asked a couple of times to show other teachers what can actually be done on it. While an IWB is undoubtedly a fantastic screen for watching movies and DVDs on, not exploring its potential any further is wasting an incredible resource.
The IWB is not the be all and end all to integrating technology into the classroom, and it is not necessarily an essential tool to have, but for a place to present to a class and for a tool to engage students by encouraging the hands on aspect that so many students find important to their learning, then it is a fantastic resource.
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