10 good, productive uses of an interactive whiteboard

A map of our internet
A map of our internet: see (2), below

For those of you coming to a quick session this morning on using an interactive whiteboard (aka an IWB), here are 10 previous posts with ideas for productive IWB activities that have worked well with language classes.

By "productive" I mean that they will produce a lot of language but won't require the teacher to spend hours preparing material — so, in this case, the teacher won't have to create half a dozen or more IWB pages. Note how many of the activities below would mean using a single page, often beginning with nothing or very little on it.

In no particular order:

1. | Using a single IWB page to jot down doubts arising in discussion, and then using those as the basis for a mini-webquest

2. | A map of our internet (see example shown above), collaboratively produced on a single IWB page

3. | Grammar casino, a grammar revision game which I first played in class perhaps 25 years ago, using a piece of chalk and the blackboard

One my main doubts about IWBs:
Could we do the same task just as well without an IWB? If so, why are we using one?

4. | Importing stills from a video on to an IWB page as a starting point for digital storytelling (see also a second example)

5. | Using an IWB page to script what we think happened in a video

Infographic on an IWB
Infographic on an IWB

6. | Importing infographics, blanking out the captions (as in the image above), providing a few clues and then getting learners to speculate on what exactly it shows

7. | The IWB for weather forecasting, possibly the most fun I've ever had with the beast

8. | Another old favourite: using an IWB page for dictogloss (with or without an IWB a wonderful activity for language classes)

9. | An IWB page for brainstorming (another of my favourite classroom activities, something else which of course doesn't require an IWB!)

10. | An IWB page for mind mapping (and other things that could have been done on an IWB)

Important things to note

My #1 tip for using an IWB in class
Move quickly from the interactive whiteboard to interactive students and an inactive (sic) whiteboard

  • To learn to use an IWB, spending 20 minutes hands-on playing with it, on three separate days, is much better training than spending an hour on it on one day. You want to learn how to use things, forget them and then rediscover them. It's a bit like learning a language: class three times a week is way better than just coming on a Friday 😉 !
  • Classroom technology — any technology, not just the IWB — is NOT about what YOU, the teacher, does with it: what matters is what your learners do with it
  • KEY question How to make your interactive whiteboard truly interactive

See also ||| All previous posts with IWB activities

Other ideas that work? Or don't… ! If you have some, I'd love to hear about them! Pop them in the comments…

Bucket lists: an idea for just about any age

Here's a wonderful video made in support of a noble cause, Water is Life, which I saw on the excellent TeachThought site.

Apart from what you could do with the video itself, no matter what age your learners are, they could also write their own bucket list [ definition ], either thinking back to when they were kids or else at their current age.

It's always fascinating to share such things (think "class blog", or Edmodo, etc., possibly even Twitter) and draw conclusions from them (what do the list tell us about teens today, for example?); and to collaborate on brainstorming, agreeing on, creating and perhaps illustrating a single bucket list for the class.

The subject of "Water is Life", particularly with reference to the Third World, is also one that it might be interesting to research and present on (I hesitate to use the word webquest!)

Mini-webquest: Brains of rats connected via internet

This one is a suggestion I made as tutor on our Technology for Language Learning course (hello, everyone in Hyderabad!), where we were looking at webquests.

I've never been a big fan of full-blown Bernie Dodge type webquests, much preferring mini-webquests in which you have learner-generated questions.

The recent headline in The Guardian "Brains of rats connected via internet" caught my eye as being something learners would be curious about (and never do a webquest unless you think that will be the case!)

How about this…?

  • Dictate the headline to the class
  • Have them in pairs talk about it for several minutes — what do they think? (Asking "is it a hoax?" sometimes works well!)
  • Ask "Any questions?"
  • Have a learner note the questions digitally (on an interactive whiteboard page, in a new class blog post, on Edmodo…)
  • Provide the link to the article
  • Possibly outside classtime, have the learners see how many of their questions they can answer either from the article or from elsewhere on the internet
  • Allow (encourage!) all other debate (is it ethical..? etc), which can be either oral or via written "comments" on the class blog or Edmodo group

Note also how the readers' comments on the article (as I write, 400+) can also be exploited (how are people reacting…? etc).

Some kind of mini-presentation afterwards, perhaps in pairs, each pair with 2 minutes max to present either the pros or the cons, can also be a good idea, especially if the topic has excited the interest of your learners.

What do you think…?

Angry Dad shoots daughter's laptop

At 8m 23s, this one is a bit longer than I like the YouTube clips I use in class to be (I go for under 2 minutes, if possible). (You could just skip to the action!)

But for discussion (possibly, eventually, as a piece of written work), both with teens and adults, I just know that "Is this guy a good Dad?" is going to "work" (i.e. have my learners wanting to say a lot).

Didn't have time to finish the discussion in class? Want to research (webquest) more? Edmodo is fantastic for that!

Interesting background to the story on Mashable.

Facebook profile pix: a fun class project

Picnik: Auto-fix your photos, and lots more!

Here's a class project I suggested the other day and which teens loved (thanks, Sandra, for feedback!).

  • In class, 15-16 year olds looked at real examples of their Facebook profile pictures, with a view to using Edmodo (not Facebook, which is less private).
  • At home, they did a web search for ideas on what makes a good social media profile picture
  • In class, they presented their results (some using Prezi to accompany their oral presentation)
  • In class, and later at home, they took better profile pictures, which they edited and improved further, using Picnik)
  • At home, photos were added to their new Edmodo profiles

It was then Sandra's idea to take the project further:

  • In class, her original class presented their web search results and new photos to another class (with another teacher), one two years younger (also using Prezi)
  • In class, the older learners helped the younger ones take profile pictures of each other
  • At home, the younger learners then uploaded their photos to their Edmodo profiles (and quite a few, apparently, also to Facebook!)

The cameras were compacts belonging to the students, and 5-7 were available, for groups approx. 25 in size.

Technologically, it was real easy for the teacher to set up and run, the kids loved it and they got a lot of language use and learning out of it. Great project!