At the start of the school year I was fortunate to have an Interwrite Board installed in my classroom. The Interwrite Board is an interactive board (IB) that works in concert with an LCD projector. Another well known IB product line is produced by Smart Technologies. Both allow teachers to control a computer by marking on the board. My board uses a pen that doesn’t leave behind real ink but it can allow me to draw, move objects around and control any software on my computer.
Here’s how I’ve been using it so far:
- demonstrating software: Teaching science demands the use of software for data collection, data analysis, graphical analysis, and video analysis. The IB has helped students become familiar with new software. They seem to pick up new software much faster once they had a chance to manipulate and control it with the interactive pen.
- practice problems go digital: My students in physics often work in small groups to solve and then present assigned problems using a white board and dry erase markers. This process has always had tremendous pedagogical advantages. Now the process has improved even more because I take pictures of their white boards and project them onto the IB for discussion.
There are several advantages to this process:
- the white board is bigger
- the work is saved for continuing the next day, an absent student or review at a later date
- while the students can annotate their white board in front of class with the interactive pens, I can interact from the back with mine (I also have the AirLiner from Smart Technologies)
- Create Podcasts: Work done on the IB can be recorded (audio and video) and posted to the web for further discussion and review. You can see examples of my videos here.
Here are a few reasons I like using the interactive board:
- I can look at my audience when using it. In the past, when I needed to demonstrate software for example, I was forced to look at the computer screen. I wasn’t looking where the students were looking. There is a disconnect here that is similar to the one when you are staring at the top of an overhead projector while your students eyes are focused behind you. Now all of us are looking at the same thing.
- The ability to save, go back and start over. I save so much time with the IB because I don’t have to erase things. If problem seven brings up new questions in problem one I can pull up question one in a flash. New questions come up? Click new page and off we go. It’s like an endless chalkboard that doesn’t show the faint, half-erased work of the hours before. I still have a chalkboard- over twice the area of the IB. I use this for things I want to keep up long-term, quick calculations for students in lab, and of course the “please see me” notes.
- It is a better drawer than me. I use the lines, shapes, clip art and endless colors to drive home our discussions. When I teach vectors, the colored arrows can be copied and slid around to explain things like vector addition. This is a huge time saver and something I never could have done with chalk.
- Students are eager to use the interactive board and feel privileged to have it in their classroom. I know that these sensations will probably subside as the technology becomes more commonplace but right now I have students asking to use it. Having students proud of what their school is providing is a good thing.