Session 2: “Looking at IWBs” – What?!

You’ll find in a lot of schools the term: ‘IWB’.

 “ICT cross-curricular links? Say no more. I’ve got an IWB in my classroom.”

“Just turn on the IWB for me, would you, please?”

“Can someone come and please fix this wretched IWB?!!”

(BTW the image is meant to represent the feelings of a crazed teacher, stressed to the eyeballs at the IT department in a Primary School)

Obviously, if you know what IWB means, then all is well, and the above quotes make perfect sense. However, for those of you that don’t:

An IWB stands for Interactive Whiteboard. They are essentially whiteboards, which are – you guessed it – interactive. Teachers throughout Britain are using IWBs these days; they can use the IWB to project their computers onto it to show their class PowerPoints, websites, videos or use it instead of a normal whiteboard – except you can keep a permanent record of the notes you write on it!

IWBs are actually really quite incredible inventions. Personally, I think they are revolutionary – you can do anything with them! There is so much more opportunity with IWBs than there are with normal whiteboards. In Session 2 of ICT, we had the opportunity to explore an IWB. It was fun to explore different programs, and how to use them on the IWB, but the highlight of my Session was Logan.

My friend and classmate, Pei, is mother to Logan (above), who is 3 years old. He was totally engrossed by the IWB. It was very early on in using the IWB that he worked out how to change the colour on the dashboard on the bottom of it, and how to move his doodles about which he had drawn on. It truly was magical watching him play, and is a perfect example of how children learn to become IT literate from a young age – through not only education, but also play and general exploration.

But, despite me arguing that the IWB is a fantastic piece of kit, it is also a hindrance to many teachers. Maybe it’s a little too early to make this assumption, but it seems most teachers and lecturers, who aren’t ICT specialists, I’ve come across so far just can not get along with IWBs. For some reason, IWBs seem to ‘break’ on them or are too complicated to use.

So far, I have only used an IWB once whilst being in the role of a teacher. I used one to show a PowerPoint about Hinduism to a class of Year 2’s whilst on placement, and it worked very well. Using the IWB in the lesson wasn’t particularly vital, but it enhanced the learning experience. In reflection, I think I could have utilized the board more in the lesson by, perhaps, showing a video, or getting the kids involved in its interactivity – maybe with a quiz or a game of some sort.

In fact, in this session of ICT, we made IWB games, too. Had I known about this whilst on my first School Placement, I probably would have attempted to make an interactive quiz, as we did ask the class questions at the end of the session to test their knowledge and understanding.

Whilst doing some of the further reading for the session, I came across all sorts of other resources for the IWB which I thought were useful. TeacherLED had some great IWB actvities to be used in English, Maths and Geography. In Maths, there were adjustable clock activites, and an interactive 100 Square which could be useful, in English, an interactive Vowel Digraphs activity and in Geography there were some interactive maps for the IWB.

The interactive Vowel Digraphs activity was something that particularly interested me, as most of my Year 1 Core English course was based around early reading a phonics. This resource would be very useful to implement in a Phonics lesson, so I’ll bare that one in mind when it comes round to my next placement…

In all of these resources, there was space to differentiate in the classroom. Obviously, with use of the the TA, children of a lower ability would have their learning enhanced, but there were activities for all kinda of different levels of learning. Similarly I saw some more complicated activities on there which would enhance children of a higher ability’s learning. For example, the Vowel Digraph activity had different stages that the children could play with, depending on what Phase of Phonics they were at.

Kent ICT, similarly, has some good resources, but what interested me about this website is that it provides information to teachers about the types of IWBs you can get. There are a lot of people who are under the impression that the SMART board is one of the main IWBs you can get, but there are others like the Hitachi board, which can be considered a cheaper alternative to boards such as the Promethean board. This link gives the low-down on the variety of IWBs you can get, and gives information about other things to do with the IWB in general too.

Although not all of the links worked (gah!), there were other interesting links in the Directed Reading which caught my interest, like Wokingham Primary’s Schemes of Work,  and a website which looks at ICT in the Early Years.

A site that was particularly interesting to me, but wasn’t so much discussing IWBs, was the “25 Features of Outstanding ICT Lessons” – purely because it is a list. I love lists. Lists are nice to read. What I also like about this particular list is that is looks at ICT lessons (obviously) and says plenty of things which I agree with. However, I think the list should be implemented in other subjects, too. For example, it talks about the teacher’s flexibility, appropriate use of ICT in the lesson, and plenty of questioning being vital ingredients in a scrummy lesson gateaux (and yes, the metaphor was totally necessary. I felt I wasn’t being creative enough in my writing.)

Anyway, that’s ’nuff of me babbling on.

Jaz~

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