My district is currently in the process of outfitting every classroom in the district with an interactive whiteboard (IWB). You know, those fancy touch or stylus enabled large displays that most people just generically call Smartboards. The process began two years ago, when our Later Elementary School decided to use some bond dollars to pilot 10 Promethean Activboards. After a very successful trial with some extremely dedicated staff, we rolled the boards out to the entire building. That led to a roll out of a few IWBs at the High School, followed by some classrooms at the Middle School this year. Meanwhile, the Early Elementary outfitted every classroom with a Polyvision ENO board, similar to other IWBs.
The idea behind putting an interactive whiteboard in every classroom is to capitalize on not just having the ability to display all forms of media in a large format using the projectors that came with the boards, but also to bring more interactivity into the classroom. Already we’ve see a lot of use with them as a new math program in the district is completely online, and has many great interactives with it. There are real hardcore users throughout the district that have been building their own interactive lessons and activities, but many have just scratched the surface of what the boards are capable of, and for good reason!
These things take a lot of time to figure out; not just from the technology side of it, but the pedagogical side as well. It’s difficult for teachers to find time away from their class to search for resources that tap into the power of the IWB, let alone break from the traditional model of teacher-led instruction and start developing their own interactive lessons. The boards are great at projecting all sorts of media, and bringing the web into the classroom, but the real power comes from being used as student-focused centers and virtual manipulatives. I’ve seen one of our music teachers using a great program that allows the student to manipulate notes on a scale using the board, and math teachers that use the boards to capture notes and problems from students that they can then use to help other classrooms, with just the click of the save button.
There’s a lot more to the IWBs, but as I said before, it can be frustrating to know you have so much potential in a teaching tool, but have such limited time to explore it, which is why I always recommend to teachers with limited time that I work with during interactive whiteboard trainings to start simply; find some great interactive lessons or virtual manipulatives that bring the students up to the board, and have them leading the class, or perhaps find some online activities that allow for small groups of students to work with the board during independent work time. Where would you find such resources? There’s actually a lot of great places to start, and these are just a few of the websites that I’ve found that have some nice interactive resources that work well with IWBs. They aren’t board specific, and are web-based, so they should work on any kind of IWB.
If you have some sites that you enjoy using with your interactive whiteboard, and don’t require specific software and can be run in a simple web browser, please feel free to share.
Lots of games, activities, and interactives that work well with Interactive Whiteboards. Grouped by subject area, ability level, and finally specific disciplines within a content area, these websites would be great as review games, or ways to check for progress and understanding in the middle of a unit. Some of the sites are hit or miss though, so your mileage may vary.
This site is a great multimedia event for early elementary and emergent readers. It’s best used as a center for students to practice phonemic skills as well as have some support while reading (all of the words, sentences, and stories are click-able, and have audio of the text being spoken out loud). This site lends itself to the big projected image on an IWB.
A collaboration between the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English, the ReadWriteThink website has some good student interactives in their classroom resource section based around effective writing. I’ve used the interactive Persuasion Map many times, but you could just as easily get a lot of use from the Story Map tool or the Bio-Cube for summarizing key elements for a biography. Most of these interactive graphic organizers work well for students using workstations, but would also serve a class discussion well, or even allow students themselves to teach or present a lesson to the class.
An online collaborative mind mapping tool, using an IWB would be a great way to start a group mind map around a particular learning objective or process, and then open it up for students to work on outside of the classroom. Effective modeling of group mind mapping could take place over the course of one or two class periods, and then open up the mind map to collaboration via e-mail. Anyone with an account can work on the mind map from any computer with Flash installed.