This month's issue of Class Ideas focuses on a versatile tool that's making an appearance in more and more classrooms: the interactive whiteboard (IWB). Whether you are already using an IWB and love it, or have one and are still figuring out the best ways to use it, or if your school district is about to make the leap to IWB technology, we hope this issue will have some valuable information for you.
We're also offering a fantastic special on some of Didax's growing selection of math products for the whiteboard. So dive in now to sample these digital delights!
Your school district has just invested in an interactive whiteboard in every classroom and now it's time to learn to use it. What will make the difference between it being a valuable instructional tool and just an expensive piece of furniture? Training, to start with.
Training is Key
Training in the use of interactive whiteboard technology is essential, says Robert Marzano, a leading researcher in educational practice. He adds that novice teachers may require professional development in both effective teaching and the use of the IWB.
While many teachers still find comfort in sticking with tried-and-true routines and technology that has worked for them in the past, Marzano's data is unequivocal. IWB technology is "the future of education," he states. Why? When used effectively, IWBs have been shown in some studies to boost student achievement substantially. Marzano identifies a "sweet spot" in the use of the technology: "used by an experienced teacher, having had it for 2 years, using it 75% of the time in class, who has had training."
Benefits and Drawbacks
Research has demonstrated that IWBs can offer clear instructional benefits. The technology places a variety of multimedia (video, pictures, diagrams, websites) at teachers' fingertips and enables more interactive teaching of whole-class lessons. This highly visual, interactive approach may engage students more effectively than traditional methods.
Research has also shown that there are drawbacks. An IWB is a big purchase in itself, ranging in cost from around $800 to $2,500, but to make it work, the classroom will also need an LCD projector ($450-$1,500), a computer, and possibly new software to make the computer compatible with the IWB. Throw in the cost of tech support and professional development, and the price tag gets hefty.
The high cost of installing an IWB in the classroom is all the more reason to know how best to use it. Interactive whiteboards are a natural addition in math and science classrooms and in English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) settings, where hands-on learning dominates instructional time, but would be of minimal value, for example, in an independent reading activity. In other words, an IWB needs to be integrated appropriately into the instructional framework, not just added on for its bells and whistles.
23 Ways to Use the Whiteboard
The Instructional Technology Department of the Wichita Public Schools contributes the following list of practical ways to use the interactive whiteboard. If you are already using an IWB in your classroom, many of these ideas may be familiar to you.
Save lessons to present to students who were absent.
Create video files to teach a software application, a lesson, or as a review to be posted to the server or web. Example: How to create a graph in Excel or how to burn a project file to a CD.
Use the built-in maps to teach continents, oceans, countries, or states and capitals.
Show presentations created by student or teacher.
Have students create e-folios, including samples of their work and voice narration.
Use it for digital storytelling.
Teach whole-group computer or keyboarding skills.
Use it for brainstorming.
Take notes directly into PowerPoint presentations.
Reinforce skills by using online interactive websites.
Create a project calendar.
Teach editing skills using editing marks.
Use with the six-trait writing process.
Use the highlighter tool to highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.
Use it with Kidspiration or Inspiration.
Teach students how to navigate the Internet.
Illustrate and write a book as a class. Use the record feature to narrate the text.
Use the Interwrite software to create lessons in advance at home or at school, and then save them for future use or to be shared with other teachers.
Use it in diagramming activities.
Show the steps involved in solving a math problem.
Have students share projects during parent/teacher/student conferences.
Create an electronic Word Wall.
End each day by having students write one thing they learned.
More Reasons to Like It
In summary, the pluses of integrating an IWB into your instruction range from the practical to the emotional. Here are a few:
It's a colorful tool that's great for demonstrations.
It accommodates different learning styles.
It's good for students with limited motor skills.
It makes the most of one-computer classrooms.
It's great for distance learning.
It's an excellent tool for the constructivist teacher.
It can interface with other peripherals.
You can print and save work done on the whiteboard.
It's appealing to learners of all ages.
We hope this article has given you some new ideas about how to make the most of your whiteboard, or if you are new to whiteboard technology, the inspiration to start using it and use it well!