Interactive whiteboards have become increasingly popular in classrooms across the country. Taking technology in the classroom to new heights, interactive whiteboards provide a diverse array of tools and resources to users.
Setting up an interactive whiteboard brings an excited hush over an entire classroom. Students can’t wait to see how they will use their new classroom tool. Understandably, many teachers are wary at first of letting students do much more than come up during spelling or math to complete a simple answer with the stylus. It doesn’t take long though to realize that there is a world of opportunity and possibility surrounding the broader uses of such an amazing tool.
Students can connect to classrooms and expert speakers around the globe using Skype. Imagine the excitement of culminating a unit of study on insects by having students interview an esteemed entomologist. Older students can participate in social discussions of important literature with students across the country. Classics, like the play the “Taming of the Shrew,” could take on new relevance for instance if two high school classrooms discuss how dating has changed, or stayed the same, over the years.
For schools with a limited number of resources, an interactive whiteboard can become an all in one portal to necessary manipulatives and tools. Virtual blocks, scales, clocks, and microscopes can be accessed in the blink of an eye. The diversity of tools available seem to be limited only by the imagination of technicians across the globe. These resources can also save enormous amounts of time in classroom set up and teacher prep.
One well known virtual tool available is Google Earth. This Google application allows users to fly around the globe using satellite imagery. Students can explore maps, chart distances, view landscapes and locate geographical features. They can even take their investigations of locales one step further and view how a place has changed over the course of history. With this application readily available on a connected interactive whiteboard, students can create contexts for any social studies lesson.
While interactive whiteboards work wonderfully as a portal of attention and engagement during whole class lessons, they can also be used as a learning station or center. For younger students they can be set up for small group practice or extension activities while older students can be given more autonomy to take their small group work to the next level. As students are empowered by technology they will build a wealth of academic and life skills.
My second graders favorite project was to create and share a personalized biography. Over a four week period they used their computer lab sessions to create an interactive page using PowerPoint. Their page included a three sentence biography, a picture, their favorite color, food, hobby, and three educational learning site links. As a class we combined all the pages as one slideshow to be shared on the interactive whiteboard. During our class meeting each day, one student was given five to ten minutes to share their page from our virtual class book. At the end of the year, I burned a disk of the PowerPoint presentation for each student.
There are an abundance of great interactive whiteboard lessons available to meet all students’ needs. Below are some activity ideas.
Interactive Whiteboard Lessons:
Students create mathcasts modeling the steps to completing a variety of math problems. Students work is saved to create a class database for reflection.
What’s the Matter
Students complete a school scavenger hunt recording examples of solids, liquids and gases. After which they create an interactive graphic organizer and class book using Photo Story on an interactive whiteboard.
After discussing what a micro-organism is, students work together as a class to identify different micro-organisms on an interactive whiteboard. They explore how micro-organisms can be beneficial or harmful.