What does “interactive” look like in the classroom? At a recent workshop I conducted,I asked this question to university faculty. Some of the responses I received were, “children engaged with one another, the teacher, the lesson, and the materials,” and “hands-on learning experiences through large and small groups.” When interactive whiteboards began finding their ways into schools across the world, educational leaders and teachers believed they would be able to instantly change the culture of learning within their classrooms by making their teaching interactive. It’s been seven or eight years since IWBs were widely deployed in school, and I’m not sure we’ve really changed that learning culture yet.
A SMART Board was installed in my third grade classroom in 2009, and I was stoked! I began making these really “interactive” lessons using SMART’s Notebook software and I started a wiki site for teachers to share resources and websites that are good for IWBs. As I began using the board and these great lessons I had created, I noticed something. Even though I had objects on the screen the students could touch and manipulate, I was still the one delivering all the instruction, and for the most part, running the lessons. The students, although definitely more engaged, were still being passive recipients of information. As I have been observing in more and more classrooms across my district, it’s becoming obvious that many, if not most, teachers are simply using their IWBs as large whiteboards and overhead projectors.
It is important to remember that there are many types of interactive. In the classroom, students can interactive with each other, with lesson materials, and with ideas. In order for IWBs to be truly interactive, we have to make sure that we provide opportunities for all of these types of interactivity within the course of a lesson. Below I have listed some strategies and activities that will help you get the most out of the your IWB.
1.) Have a designated “Operator” who runs the lesson.
2.) Include Hide and Reveal activities within your lesson, and provide your students with handouts to record these activities.
3.) Use clickers to monitor student comprehension before, during, and after a lesson.
4.) Provide students with the opportunity to discuss in small groups multiple times during a lesson.
5.) Provide students with the opportunity to monitor their own understanding during a lesson.
*Are you using SMART Boards? Notebook software is free as long as your school has a board. I loaded the software on all the lab computers, and have the students creating lessons. Talk about interactive! They loved working with all of the tools and techniques, it gave them the opportunity to show what they know, and allowed them to practice their presentation skills when it came time to deliver their lessons.
Please leave a comment and share how you are creatively using your SMART Board to increase engagement and interactivity with your students!