Sunday, 22 March 2015

Long live my Interactive Whiteboard

Now that is not something you hear too often these days.
There are so many technological options available to us as teachers at the moment in the classroom. We have come a long way from chalkboards, Banda worksheets and overhead projectors.  As classroom tools have moved with the times my teaching has taken into account these tools and has sought to investigate how these tools can enhance my classroom practice.  Note the onus here - how could my teaching be enhanced?  It can not be said enough - pedagogy first, technology second.
So now classrooms can be awash with technological tools such as laptops and iPads and I embrace these too.  How will they help me to help my students to improve their learning?  I have posted blogs on a number of apps that I have explored and even with my one iPad I have seen great benefits and I have a good understanding of just what can be achieved.  I am amazed and delighted at what I can do with my sole iPad in class.  Check out this presentation for example:

Even if I simply use a show me interactive whiteboard on my iPad as I go around and help students it is a time saver as I do not need to constantly head back to the whiteboard to write notes. What is more, each note I write can be saved for further investigation and as an aide memoire of what has been achieved.  Does this mean that the technological revelation of the 1990s, the much favoured interactive whiteboard (IWB), is now defunct and no longer has a part to play in my lessons.  The answer for me is a categorical 'No!'. 
If I was left without my IWB I would be rather frustrated.  Having fought hard to get the first IWB installed in the MFL Department at my previous job I was adamant that I was going to make the most of it and ensure that it could impact on my teaching.  This was always at the heart of my investigations and learning. So how do I use my IWB?  There are so many things that I do with my IWB it is hard to single out a few ideas nonetheless, I am going to try.

1. A communicator:  

As a language teacher communication is key. An IWB provides a focal point and the interactivity comes from the fact that students communicate with each other about what is on the board and what needs to be moved or changed.  Language is needed to express these moves and changes that might not have been covered in a normal classroom situation.  Meaning has to be negotiated and speaking skills are honed in areas not normally covered.

2. Grammar:

I use my IWB for teaching and consolidating grammar.  Use of colour is a clear aide and ability to hide elements and simply reveal a word/letter/phrase also helps the process. I regularly invite students to collaborate at the board and discuss what they should do.  Students take turns at the board whilst others discuss and make notes on paper.  Here are some other grammar ideas which work well on IWB:
a. noughts and crosses
b. correct the error
c. re-order the sentences
d. blockbusters

3. Categorising:

I love the ability for students to re-order text and place them in the right column.  This can have a grammar focus or be based on topic area.  Check out this one I created for Yr12:

4. Collaborating:

It is good to work as a class to create something - a mind map perhaps - which can then be saved for use in another lesson or with another year group.  It can be rolled out at the end of a topic to see how much progress has been made.  The collaborative class work can be printed out and given to the class as evidence of work they have produced.

5. Memory games:

IWB provide some great tools for helping build background knowledge on basic facts.  Once students have met some new vocabulary use the reveal tool to encourage students to recall the words. Or play Kim's game and take away one object on each page.  Failing that, try the spotlight (which, incidentally can be as big or small as you wish) and encourage students to tell you what is being highlighted.
I know that most of these things can now be achieved using an iPad but for those of us who don't have access to iPad and who still have IWB facility I think it is important to continue to make full use of this tool.  Maybe you have an IWB that you have not really made the most of - I hope this post has given you some ideas.  On the other hand, maybe you love your IWB too and have lots more ideas to share.  If so, please do let me know in the comment box below. I look forward to hearing your views.