I was hoping to get this up last night so that attendees at my presentation at ALEA08 could access this post as a form of online handout. Edublogs was playing up so that foiled my plans somewhat. So, if you were at my session and have checked back now to see if I was true to my word, I hope that these notes and links are useful. Because my presentation featured student work that I don't wish to share online and contained unscripted demonstrations along the way, I have trimmed the slidedeck down somewhat. I did not get through everything I planned as presenting on a less than solid platform threw the alignment of my loan Teamboard out somewhat. I'd also like to thank my presentation partners in Rod from Era Publications (who invited me to participate on the topic of interactive whiteboards) and Matt from BSS, who brought in the Teamboard and the short throw projector and ensured that all my technical hitches were down to a minimum. Two very cool independent South Australian companies - without any multinational connections or pretensions!
USING INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARDS AS A LITERACY TOOL
The Interactive Whiteboard has emerged as a popular tool in classrooms all around Australia enabling the use of digital resources for student learning. This powerful technology allows the teacher to use multimedia, the internet and literacy-based software as part of their literacy program in new and innovative ways. This workshop will showcase some of the ways an experienced classroom teacher has used the IWB in his classroom over the last three years and how his practice has changed along the way. You will see examples of how the IWB can be used for explicit literacy skill teaching, how the interactive components can assist the understanding of concepts and ideas, how the IWB can be a focal point for the modelling of problem solving and the use of key information literacy skills and how the embedding of multimedia (images, sound, animations, interactive activities, video) can enhance student engagement and relevance. Finally, see how the IWB becomes the vehicle for students to take control of their own learning, creating and directing learning opportunities for their peers and using the connection of online tools (read/write or Web 2.0) to reach beyond the physical constraints of their classroom.
My presentation notes (edited to make sense and including links to resources referenced):
My presentation will try to explore the potential between a custom technology tool, the iwb and literacy in the classroom. But first in the spirit of new modern literacies, I'll introduce myself using an idea from University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, using 4 image slides.
What about the iwb? Let's consider the tools at most traditional classroom teachers disposal - whiteboard or chalkboard, teacher's own handwriting and illustrating skills dictate the quality of delivery of content or concepts, some use of OHP, photocopied sheets, exercise books with occasional access to computer suites or pods. Meanwhile, students have started accumulating their own tools as well - mobile phones, USB drives, ipods, SD cards, laptops
all adaptive tools with learning potential but not necessarily serving that function in students' lives. Interestingly, use of these tools are mostly involved in some forms of literacy - visual, digital, musical. Teachers are playing catch up but
technology has started to creep in for teachers - overhead projectors, laptops and sometimes data projectors. The iwb is a specialised education tool - two of the leading companies SMART and Promethean, have education focus - it is not a sideline.
How does the iwb change your classroom? iwb introduces digital content and multimedia, allows teachers to upgrade their presentation standards, content can be presented, altered, manipulated and annotated before being saved as a file. This file represents flexibility - flexibility for re-use, sharing, improvement but ... it is no guarantee of improved teaching. It is my experience is that magnifies teaching practice - good and bad.
The jury is still divided on their overall effect on results -
"Whiteboards fail the ultimate test: they don't improve children's test results"
"Many pupils have been turned into "spectators" as teachers use the technology to create faster and more complicated lessons"
My personal journey began in July 2005 - with the iwb installed in my classroom. I also had the pressure of learning to use this tool effectively in my classroom as well as leading out for five other teachers involved in the initial rollout. I started like most teachers - using the iwb as a digital ink version of a whiteboard. It took time to become familiar with the most commonly used tools (pen, eraser, highlighter, typing, reveal, fill bucket, handwriting recognition) and how to save and retrieve files. I eventually started to use some of the more complex tools (ruler, timer, camera) and created flipcharts to help run the school day, also starting to use the objects from the library and sorting through the pre-made resources. I started to spend time creating flipcharts to be used in my own English lesson - trying to incorporate interactivity with digital worksheet activities. (I showed my Apostophes flipchart as an example of my practice at that time.)
Defining interaction and interactivity is actually an important discussion to have - best summed up in this presentation by Jason Denys. One of the key points that Jason makes in this presentation is that iwb is a tool and it is the pedagogy chosen to use with that tool that will make the difference.
"I'm so over flipcharts". - Maria Paladino, 2006.
It didn't take me long to realise that creating detailed flipcharts was not a sustainable way to go. If the goal is tactile interaction, drag'n'drop interaction then online is the place to go. So many resources - digital texts are easier to manipulate. Teachers have been well known for remixing content - fair use comes into play as long as not shared beyond the classroom. I started by using Google to locate resources. "IWB and literacy" - Google search pulls up many repositories of resources. A better place to search is del.icio.us - social bookmarking to save, tag and share literacy and iwb resources.
There are many forms of writing suitable for use on the iwb - explanation, persuasive, poetry, reports, instructions. One example would be to get your students to write in the style of a newspaper article. Show the task, head off to a link and use the annotation tools to discuss, dissect and plan for the students' own writing. iwb is also useful for work on specific English skills - punctuation, grammar, handwriting or word knowledge. An important focus is information literacy - searching (visual search engines like Boolify, Quintura and KartOO) can be easily and explicitly demonstrated.
Interactive Whiteboards make the teaching of Multiliteracies easier - text, still images and moving images. Text - big books, blogs and other social media. (Era link, Project Guttenberg, Wordle) Still images - photojournalism (Boston Globe Big Picture) Images tell their own story - or do they? (My flipchart using images for communication) Images that can be easily sourced and used are user-generated and shared images from sources like Flickr (flickrstorm, flickrCC) Moving images - this can include advertising, short films, user-generated media, digital stories and presentations. I put them all together to teach a writing genre - fables. (Text, animated versions & video)
iwb as vehicle for student led learning
Showed a student's completed fable - The Grass And The Tree - the iwb was ideal for sharing his work with the class. Interactive construction of learning - "Can We Make A Difference?" - construction of understanding on a concept, Year 5/6 class seeking to answer the inquiry question using Port River dolphins as the local example to create understanding from - this is a flipchart constructed between teacher, librarian and students over the course of an 8 week unit that involved the use of an excursion. I finished the presentation showing examples from my classroom that fitted under the description of interactive student initiated learning.
As usual, feedback welcome either in the comments or use my contact form on this blog.