The Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). When I received my first SMART Board, I was beside myself, and needed time to work through what I would do with it. I received it for displaying skills not remotely related to using such a device. I had a wealth of resources at my fingertips, including an Instructional Technologist to help me out. Using the device wasn’t the problem. That’s what tutorials are for. How to use it for instruction was the problem. Tons of neat interactive activities don’t help me when I’m trying to have students come up one by one to demonstrate understanding or explain reasoning. That’s because the rest of the class only seems interested if they are the one at the board or if they get the chance to correct another student’s mistake.
The one-at-a-time business didn’t seem to work — at least not for most lessons. If you put some sparkle into it, they’ll engage for a little while, but unless you can hold that engagement through truly authentic learning, students will time out. What if you were to use an IWB with small groups? Design something…or better yet, ask a question and have the students design questions and solutions to accompany it. The IWB can be used as part of the learning process, rather than a focal point for a lesson. Just like there are ways to leverage one iPad in a classroom, the sole IWB mounted on the wall can be used for powerful learning.
Tom Barrett has a pretty comprehensive list of ways to use an IWB in his Google Presentation titled 56 Interesting Ways to use the Interactive Whiteboard in the Classroom. He has updated it since I last saw it, and I’m sure he’ll continue it, so keep an eye out.
The next step in the evolution of an IWB’s usage is to have students developing lessons and activities with this technology. How would you do this? I know a GT teacher whose upper elementary students developed lessons with SMART Notebook to help younger students learn certain concepts. It put those older students in the driver’s seat. What concepts did it help them learn? Well, they needed to organize the information available about the concept to be conveyed. They needed details, and they needed to think through the design of the lesson. They had to ask themselves tough questions about their own learning model as well as ask questions of the teacher in the 1st grade class. There is so much more to this than the Xs and Os of content. Process, design, and reasoning need to play a larger role. An IWB can help, but we need to check on how it’s being used.