Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution Book and Website

I am in the process of reading The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution by Chris Betcher and Mal Lee. As I've been reading, I'm recording my thoughts in a Google Doc. One of the chapters speaks to e-Teaching and three common phases teachers go through when adopting the use of an Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) in the classroom. I've saved all of my flip charts from the last two years and decided to find out how this has mapped to my use. I thought I'd share what I found out on my blog.

For Those Without an Interactive Whiteboard
It's worth mentioning that Promethean allows anyone to download their personal edition of the ActivInspire software. I believe you have to sign up for a free account at Promethean Planet. You can run the software on a computer using a projector or large monitor. The students can work the files with the compute mouse. It's good practice for the day and Interactive Whiteboard finally shows up in your school.

Phase One: Doing Old Things in Old Ways
The book suggests that most people start out by using the IWB in the same manner that they might a chalkboard. It surprised me to see how true this was in my case. I learned how to use the board on my own time and in my own way. I took tutorials at the Promethean Planet web site.

When I l
ook back at September 2008, I mostly created text box titles (in advance) and had students walk up to the board and write with the pen. As I looked through the files, the first two months look like PowerPoint presentations with fill in the blanks for the students. I had very limited use of the tools. The pointer, pencil, eraser, and colors were my top tools. The lessons were not interactive, but I used what I knew would work seamlessly with the students. As it was the first board in the school, everyone just wanted to touch the pen and the board. It made my lessons marginally more interactive since I do not have a blackboard or whiteboard that I can easily access with my students. This was the first time they could actually write down an answer for me in front of the whole class.

Phase Two: Doing Old Things, But in New Ways
I needed to see an IWB in action to get a better idea of what I could be aiming for in the classroom. In December 2008, I went to a conference at a local university and went to a session with Promethean representatives. I was the only one who showed up, so they dropped what they planned (ActivExpressions) and gave me some pointers. They showed me around Promethean Planet and how to use the paint bucket on text. This was a breakthrough idea for me. I have the students in second grade work on that I run with Anna Baralt (@abaralt). I used the idea the next class to have the students find adjectives. It was something I could have done with Word and a highlighter tool, but it was a new way for my students and I.

We have a set of 32 ActiVotes that came with the board. It took me a long time to figure out how to register the ActiVotes. I received help via Promethean Planet and the conference. My first flip chart with the voting devices was January 2009. It was still an old thing in a new way. I wanted to talk with the third grade students about our state bird, the Eastern Goldfinch. It was a new lesson, but I wanted to try the ActiVotes. I couldn't yet figure out how to assign student names, but I created a number of lessons that gave the students in all grade levels various topics containing multiple choice questions and answers. It was a good way to talk and interact as a group. I had been using SurveyMonkey for this purpose, but this was more immediate and we didn't have to leave the discussion area in my room, go to the computer to fill out the form, and return to the discussion area. At this point, I didn't feel comfortable enough with my output to submit the lesson to Promethean Planet.

By the end of January of my first year with the board, I started trying out some ActivStudio gadgets. My eighth grade had created some movies. I used a spinner to select the order in which we would play the movies. It enabled me to test another feature of the software with the students. They enjoyed the spinner as an alternate method to select movies. I wasn't too happy with the spinner and tend to use the Interactive Fruit Machine.

I continued to build in new ways. I teach the third grade how to read a web page. We start with a book. I could have held up the book, or used a document camera (but I may not have known how to use the one we won yet). So, I scanned pages from a library book, put the images into the flip chart, and incorporated the voting devices into it. Even though I resized the image, the version on the board was readable. I used the pen to circle the location of the answers on the page after the vote. This lesson was from January 31, 2009. I can't upload an image because of copyright.

We were having an out of uniform day to raise funds for solar cookers.

In another attempt to explore using the board in new ways,
I found a video to engage the students in learning about Darfur. Again, the students used the ActiVotes to register their knowledge of solar cookers, where Darfur is located, and the content of the movie. I started saving the flip chart pages as images, brought them into PowerPoint, and uploaded the file to Slideshare. You can see them here. Since the class was on Saint Patrick's day, there are a number of images on the flip chart pages for the holiday. This lesson was from March 17, 2009.

I can see how I would find a new thing and use it a lot. The following week, I was trying out Discovery Streaming. Every year, I work on the book “Make Way for Ducklings”. I had found a Google Lit Trip about the book to use with Google Earth the year before. In this example, I embedded video and votes. This is from a week after the Darfur set.

I continued to use the ActiVotes quite a bit, but I started using them to have students evaluate choices instead of simply selecting a correct answer. I had them use the board for matching and evaluating pieces of information with the pen. There is still a good bit of use of the pen to write on the board. In this fourth grade Internet Safety lesson, I tried to reach a little more with the depth of the questions for the students. This is from April 24, 2009.

As I closed out the school year with the board, I was ready to spend the summer learning more on my own time. I had all my flip charts saved so they could be reused and modified the following year. I really never use exactly the same lesson year after year. With the flip chart, I can review the content, modify the ideas, and take them to a new level the following year. It is a time saver. Additionally, we used the board set up for Skype calls with other classes.

Phase Three: Doing New Things in New Ways
In the book, the third phase talks about teachers doing new things in new ways. I’m not entirely here, but I feel I’m starting to do things that I wouldn’t have been able to do with PowerPoint, a projector, and Skype. I’m working more with have students evaluate information. I am starting to share resources on Promethean Planet. I uploaded a duplicate by mistake, but I'm learning. The resources are on the United States site.

I have a hard time finding charts I really like for computer class. In November 2009, I found a symmetry lesson on Promethean Planet that I used with Kindergarten. This flip chart helped me to understand hidden objects and draggable objects. I had a hard time using ActivStudio to create hidden and draggable objects. I think it was around this time that I finally decided I had to learn ActivInspire because there were nice ActivTip movies that clearly described what I wanted to do.

I now have three flip charts shared on Promethean Planet. The first is State Research: Learning to Use Keywords in a Search Engine. It has had 14 downloads in eleven days (between the two files I uploaded). The second is Computer Terminology. It has had a whopping 46 downloads in nine days. The last is Digital Citizenship. It has had 14 downloads in nine day. The flip charts use draggable items, have locked items, have ActiVote opportunities, and page notes. They charts give third to fifth grade students the opportunity to evaluate information. I look forward to learning more with the ActivTips. The more I learn, the more I can create and share.

The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution
I've been conversing with Chris Betcher, one of the authors. He mentioned that there are teachers discussing the book at his Interactive Whiteboard Revolution ning. It is also mapped to I've been a member of the ning since before I had a board. I plan on spending more time there. I'm still reading the book, but I thought this would make a good general blog post.


  1. Ann,
    I've been following you for the past two years and learning so much from you and the Elementary Tech Teachers Ning. I found out after reading your post that I am getting a SmartBoard as soon as it can be installed:) I'm excited, nervous and scared. What are your suggestions as to the best path to learning to use it?
    Thanks for always sharing!

  2. Thank you for the nice words. I'm excited for you. I would observe other teachers using the board in the school to see how you might use it.

    I have gotten a lot out of Promethean Planet. SMART has an Educator Resources page. When you click on the link, you will see an entry for SMART Exchange. Look through the teacher submitted lessons for ideas. Sometimes you can use the lesson as is.

    The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution book that I mentioned in the post was well worth the money. You might also want to listen to a recorded session from the author about interactive whiteboards.

    You'll find yourself going through the three phases, I'm sure. The best habit you can get into is taking the software home at night and practice using it. Get it going every day in class with the students. As you work with it, you'll try more and more. You'll begin to see other possibilities.

    Finally, stop by the Interactive Whiteboard Revolution ning and browse the forum.

    I've been saving links for a long time now. Feel free to browse through my bookmarks for IWB, SMARTboard, and Promethean.
    Enjoy the board!

  3. Ann,

    Thanks for sharing your IWB journey. I enjoyed following your transformation through the specific examples you shared. I'm also glad to connect with you in both Nings!

  4. I have never heard of the book. Sounds very interesting though. He is pro interactive whiteboard? Thanks for sharing!

  5. Emily:
    It was interesting mapping my journey. It will help me remember the humble beginnings we all have with the IWB. I'm glad to be connected with you through the nings as well. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    He is pro interactive whiteboard and very much looks for teachers to work their way through high levels of learning with students. The interactive whiteboard is the gateway to having the tools some teachers don't have in the classroom: a good internet connection, speakers, and interactive software. The book is definitely worth reading if you have or are getting an interactive whiteboard. Thanks.