Whiteboard magic casts a spell in the classroom

8th June 2001 at 01:00
Interactive whiteboards enthral everyone who sees them and may well convince many teachers to use digital materials. Jenny Noel-Storr, head of Redhill school in Telford, describes their use in her school.

Our first whiteboard arrived in school just over a year ago and now we have had one installed in each class base. Both the teachers and the children love them. We have found that once you begin to use whiteboards the ideas begin to escalate. Staff now say that at the end of almost any teaching session they have thought of more ways of exploiting them.

Preparation is a key to success. At the start of a teaching session the teachers have all the digital resources they need at the bottom of the screen, to call up when needed as they go through the lesson. This may include the Notebook file containing the lesson, a Publisher file containing the children's worksheets, and maybe a website or some software.

With the whiteboard, teachers add a new dimension to the start of the lessons. For example, they may create a good, slick start to the sessions by using some of the Developing Number software for mental and oral maths.

The Notebook resource is used for most lessons. Pages are made by the teachers as they plan and are then ready to be used during the session, like a pile of electronic, but interactive, overhead transparencies down the side of the board. These can then be called up, annotated, referred back to, and edited as the lesson progresses. The content can, however, be moved and manipulate, unlike overhead transparencies. Text and words, for example, can be moved around within sentences. Original pages or annotated pages can be printed for the children. The processes involved in the teaching can be demonstrated and are recorded.

During an introductory session the teacher can also go to a piece of software or a website to demonstrate a point or give further animated practice, for example, using a site such as Crocodile Clips (www.crocodile-clips.com) during a science lesson on electricity or BBC Maths File (www.bbc.co.ukeducationmathsfile) during a numeracy session.

Teachers will demonstrate, for example in literacy, and children will also take turns to add ideas and annotations on the board. It is then recorded for them to revisit when needed.

The teacher may also call up a recording sheet or ICT task that the children will be using during the independent session and explain what to do. Groups of children frequently use the whiteboard to work on a task as a group, which can then be used for the plenary session.

Work and pictures can be scanned in for the children to share during a plenary session or for the start of the teaching session. Teachers can also zoom in on features they need to look at more closely and move to showing video in any session.

With the interactive whiteboards, the children are always on task and concentrating as the screen moves from software to recording sheets; to teachers pages and video; to scanned work and pictures. It's magic!

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