It is generally agreed that interactive whiteboard software has the potential to revolutionize the way we present curriculum. However, learning new software is a daunting task, so tapping that potential can prove to be tricky. I want to let you in a few… “secrets,” that will help you tap into the power that is your interactive whiteboard
Here are four easy tips for utilizing your interactive whiteboard to engage your students more fully in your lessons without being a computer genius:
- Change your Pen color frequently and with purpose
- Construct “Reveal-a-Prize” slides
- Play “Brain and Body”
- Barter with free time with the IWB
These are all ideas that I put in to use in a small-group math setting with students with high functioning autism in grades 2-6. However, all four ideas can be applied in any setting, with any subject.
As a math teacher, I do a lot of example calculations on the board. With settings at default, the pen is black and the board is white. I change the color of the pen and the slide to create a slightly more “exciting,” combination that is also easy on the eyes. Change the color of the slide to a pastel version of the color. Avoid using bright colors for the background. Use a dark font to contrast with the pastel background. Plan your “color switches,” ahead of time. Switching colors can add a second level of visual organization and make the information instantly more accessible. We especially enjoyed using bright green pen on a black background. The contrast is stunning and we called it:
For our second trick, we are going to construct a “Prize Board” that a student can access after meeting a certain criteria. My criteria were typically something like “Complete 4 problems, access 1 prize.” This is a Cover and Reveal trick. We cover up the prize, and then the student uses the selector tool to reveal it.
First, pick your prizes. The prizes could be anything from a picture to a promise of an edible reward. If you are already running a token economy, you can offer some of your class currency. Paste or type the prizes onto a blank slide. Make sure the prizes are evenly spaced. Now, “lock” all of the prizes into place. Next, cover each prize with an individual rectangle. The prize is “locked” and the rectangle is free to be moved. In the lesson, once a student has met the criteria, navigate to the prize board and allow them to randomly select and move a rectangle to reveal their prize. This method has the positive benefit of streamlining the reward process. Students get immediate reinforcement after meeting the criteria, but you can delay the actual giving of edible prizes tickets, mock currency etc. until the end of the lesson so as not to constantly interrupt the flow of the lesson.
This next method works especially well with mathematics. Once students are close to mastering a skill, we play a game called, “Body and Brain,” in which one student holds the pen ( the Body) and one student dictates what is to be written (the Brain). To attack a multiplication problem, the Brain tells the Body exactly what to write. This offers great practice in communication of ideas between peers, and is a great exercise in restraint for the Body, who has to write exactly what the Brain says, even if it is wrong.
The final trick of the trade is the simplest: bargain attentive behavior for free time coloring on the IWB. If you can give a small group even a minute at the end of the lesson to draw on the board, they will find it highly motivating. The interactive whiteboard is a very cool thing, and it is safe to assume the students have had daydreams about what they would do if they only had control of that pen for just a minute. If you have multiple students in your group, allow each of them 10-15 seconds with the pen using just 1 color of their choosing continuously adding on to the same picture. The result will be a multicolor masterpiece
You can save your student’s creations using a simple screenshot!
With these four tricks in your pocket, you can spice up each and every one of your lessons while simultaneously increasing student participation and motivation.
By Jack Nagle, Private Tutor