A sample IWB lesson

Image

Above is a screen shot of a lesson that can be adapted using Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing. The purpose of this lesson is for students to take a deeper look at the illustrations, and how they add meaning to the story.

After reading the text with the class, students (in pairs) are given a choice of three different scene illustrations from the story, and asked to consider the mood in one scene, and how the illustrator has portrayed this mood. Students must then add thought dialogue to individual characters within the illustrations, using the notebook technology to add thought bubbles to these characters.

Once students have shown the teacher their thought bubbles, the second activity will involve them recording voice overs for these thoughts. Students can interpret tone, pitch and speed for each character, and record them at the IWB. They can also add background sounds to accompany their scene. Once finished, pairs will be able to play-back their scene to their peers, and will receive immediate feedback from both peers and the teacher.  

What’s so interactive about a whiteboard?

Although there are a number of benefits in using IWBs in the classroom, I would argue that the most important feature of this tool is the fact that it encourages a higher level of independent learning. I see my role in the classroom as someone who not only introduces information, but also as someone who facilitates a students’ ability to take charge of their own learning. Higgins et al (2007, p. 217) argue that “good teaching remains good teaching with or without technology”, and this reflects my own attitude to IWBs. Interestingly, the review conducted on research on the use of IWBs in the classroom also reveals that IWBs have no significant or measureable impact on achievement in the classroom (Higgins et al, 2007, p. 221).

Effective use of an IWB in the classroom, therefore, needs to promote increased pupil participation and interaction in the lesson. Inviting students forward to engage first hand with the technology, and on a regular basis, encourages increased attention in learning. There is also an element of peer teaching when students use IWBs at the front of the class, to present or lead an activity, and exposure to an extensive range of multimodal texts that have not been available through print media. 

With such a significant piece of technology at our fingertips, we as teachers need to remember the importance of interactive teaching in the classroom, using this technology to its full potential and purpose, which is to engage students in a greater understanding of how technology can enhance their learning.

References:

Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G., & Miller, D. (2007). reviewing the literature on interactive whiteboards. Learning, media and technology. 32(3). p. 213-225. 

Happily Blogging

With all the blogs floating around the blogosphere, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. How do we know what a good blog looks like? How can I show my students an example of a quality blog, and what I expect from them in their own blogs?

The Edublogs website (http://edublogs.org/directoryclass/?utm_expid=3915942-0.sTB70DfGTIKG85bY3mRpOQ.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fedublogs.org%2Fcommunity%2F) offers links to a number of different education-based blogs, which cater to a range of different age groups and topics. I’ve reviewed two blogs, which demonstrate a clear understanding of how to engage with blogging in the classroom.

1. http://huzzah.edublogs.org

Based in Canada, ‘Huzzah’ is a classroom blog, operated by Year 6 and 7 students, and overseen by three teachers. It is a blog built around the purpose of sharing and celebrating what happens in this classroom, and in particular, uses its name ‘huzzah’ as a means of communicating this intention (‘huzzah’ is an old English term for joy, encouragment or triumph). This is an example of an engaging and insightful blog because it is not just a collection of written posts and pictures, but rather a log of learning that happens within a classroom. Students are encouraged to not only post polished work, but to also post drafts, and ask for feedback from the web community they are connected to. The site itself is engaging, with interactive links via web widgets, videos and slideshows which link visitors to activities in the classroom, but there are also links to individual blogs that each student operates. It is great to see every student involved in blogging about their interests, because they are made to feel like equal contributors to their classroom blog.

2. http://edublogs.misd.net/techiekids/

At first, Techie Kids can seem like its overloaded with too many colours and links. However, looking past the bright colours and flashing widgets, this blog is actually a very organised and succinct example of a classroom blog. Ideal for modelling blogging to a Stage 3 class, or even advanced Stage 2, this blog not only focuses on sharing current learning within the classroom, but also sharing resources for different subjects, tips for teachers on how to start their own class blog, and facts and images about their home Michigan. A central focus of this blog is communicating with online communities via the internet, and learning how to engage with other virtual classrooms. This would be a great resource to show students how to organise ideas for blog posts, as well as examples of smart and appropriate responses to visitors to their own blogs.