Archive for February, 2013


Interactive White Boards

 

upper school active board

IWB (Interactive white boards) are an important tool for teaching these days and will not stop gaining importance in the future. As a future teacher, it is my duty to find ways to integrate this technology in my classroom and to be aware of the difference that it makes for learners.

IWB can be used in different ways in school depending on the subject of the course. Specific tools are available for subjects like math and science. As an ESL teacher, I think that I will use my interactive board on a regular basis mostly for its dynamic visual, but by searching a little bit on different websites, I found different IWB activities and resources made specifically for English learning.

Dynamic visual

Students are hoping their teachers to be dynamic and to be interesting. Instead of writing on a blackboard, giving a class by using an IWB in class can make an important difference for student’s attention. The most basic feature of an IWB is the possibility to operate a computer by standing up in front of the class. I would for sure prioritize this kind of use rather than going back and forth on the computer to scroll down or to change powerpoint slides. This concept keeps the students from being distracted. It keeps their attention on a central spot and it is good. It is well explained on this blog article from Royalbert that sleepy students are entertained by IWB and tells how effectively it can increase students’ attention.

Online activities

During my search, I found a bunch of great online activities for spelling and alphabet in English on a website named Teacherled, you can find different application of whiteboard activities for Maths, Geography and English! Here’s an example of a spelling activity that can by found and this website. I like the ease of use of that kind of activity. There is no download or installation required and it may come in handy IWB beginners. A great thing about this way of teaching is that it increases students’ retention and comprehension.

Student participation

I also learned about ways to have the students work on a whiteboard. Of course it is difficult to have more than one student at a time in front of the class working on the board, but it can lead to great team activities in class. I have found a great Google Docs presentation on Boxoftricks.net website that suggests 33 ways of using IWB in classroom. A high number of ways is about the students using the board. It even tells tips to help the students write on the board if they are too tall enough! That website gave me ideas like having the students play trivia games in team and they have to go click on the right answer on the board after consultation. Doing that kind of activities increases student’s motivation is that is why I want to use them.

Conclusion

After my research, I discovered new ideas to integrate IWB in my teaching. I plan to use my whiteboard mainly to give more dynamic classes, but I will also use several online applications to help retention and I will make my students work on the board as well to make them participation and be active in their learning.

Image

Storytelling is a great activity in classrooms of young students and even with older. I remember as a child when stories were read in my classes. I loved it. I was impressed by the quality of my teacher’s reading. It was almost a perfect activity. The only problem was the lack of pictures we could see. My teachers would turn their book after reading a page to show the students the pictures printed in it and we could barely see it! Not to mention the students in the back of the class that could not see at all. Today, on a blog article from freetech4teachers, I discovered a great app called Haiku Deck that now allows teachers to solve this problem. That article also gives a link of an example of presentation that promotes the use of pictures in story telling.

Haiku Deck is an iPad app that is very intuitive and free. It helps you create great looking presentations for storytelling or any other kind of slide presentation. The focus of the application is really on pictures and visual. Text is even limited to let the pictures be the main subject. It is only possible to add keywords or a sentence or two on the pictures. This limitation is needed since the picture itself is the backdrop for the text. One disadvantage I found is that you cannot change the size of the text. There is one small box of text and a big one. Sometimes simplicity does not help! Selecting a different theme can change the font style but not its size unfortunately.

The best feature according to me is that the app comes with an access to a great database, which is full of beautiful stock pictures that can be found by simply entering keywords. The app even suggests you related keywords in order to help you find even more pictures. I really like this option because pictures on websites like iStockphoto can be quite expensive and Haiku Deck gives you the same quality for free. Lifehacker blog has an article about how gorgeous these presentations can be.

Ways to use Haiku Deck in class

Haiku Deck provides a lot of possibilities for teachers. I think one of the best ways to use it is by having the students write a story and letting them present it to their classmates by creating a Haiku Deck presentation. The problem is that except for a few pilot projects, iPad are not available in school. I understand that it is a big investment and maybe in a couple of years it will start to happen. A faster solution would be for Haiku Deck to make their software available on other platforms. That way, it would be a lot easier for students to have access to it. 

Another way to use it is to teach with it as a visual support, like we do on PowerPoint. Haiku Deck’s website provides different examples of presentation made from their app. Still, I may not be able to have my entire course one a Haiku Deck presentation because of the text limitation, but the students may be more attentive to my teaching instead of reading and copying text that is on the screen.

In conclusion, I would use this application in class for some special presentations (mostly short ones) when I need to show stunning pictures to my students and that text limitation does not bug me. I also like the idea that my students could work on their own presentation with that tool, but it does not seem doable for now. 

Pros

–       Free stock pictures database, beautiful visual

–       Free app

–       Export function into PowerPoint

–       Can be watched from any computer connected to Internet

Cons

–       Presentations can only be edited with an iPad

–       Font cannot be moved outside of the presets and size cannot be modified.

Nowadays, Powerpoint presentations represent a standard in classrooms. However, a new and innovative tool called Prezi is increasingin popularity and may replace PowerPoint in a few years.

prezi-menu

Characteristics and values

The mains characteristic of Prezi is that it helps you create presentations with the structure of mind maps. It creates presentations that are not linear like the PowerPoint ones. On Prezi, you can interconnect your ideas and they are shown in a dynamic 3D display. According to their website, Prezi has values such as creativity, ideas sharing, style and simplicity. This is why they created this easy, stylish and dynamic interface.

Ease of use

Prezi is a very intuitive software and takes only a little time to master. On their website, several tutorial videos are available. Another advantage of Prezi is that user’s presentations can be stored in their server and is accessible from everywhere. This server is called The Cloud. Prezi can also be controlled with iPads, iPods, and similar platforms. After reading this article, I am convinced that this software is the most convenient for teaching purposes.

In classroom

Powerpoint presentations can be redundant and too still. I myself find them boring. Using Prezi in class can increase students’ motivation and raise their level of attention. It makes them see links between ideas because of the interactive transitions provided by the software. Prezi also encourages the use of pictures and colors. This feature is also good for student’s attention. It is now possible to create a pdf out a Prezi presentation, but the results are not as good as with PowerPoint, because you do not structure a Prezi in pages. I would suggest the teachers who want to send their presentations to their student make a text document with the content of their Prezi.

Pros

  • Artistic
  • Dynamic and modern
  • Makes clear linked between ideas
  • Available on the cloud

Cons

  • Can look less serious than a powerpoint presentation
  • Presentations loose their features when exported in pdf

Conclusion

I think that Prezi is a great software and teachers should give it a try, because their student can benefit a lot from it. They may get really inspired by a visual support that is that dynamic and that creative.