Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Interactive Whiteboards and other reflections

It’s still dark this morning as I’m up early to go to the Year 11 camp with my school. All students and teachers have what is known as “co-curricular week” when all the camps happen, along with work experience for the Year 10s and activity week for Year 8. I’ve written lots of blog posts lately that have not seen the light of publication. This is a difficult blog post to write. Our family has been through a rough time just lately. Last month my mother in law had a stroke and later passed away. The celebration of her life was very moving, and my daughter who had been away in Bolivia made it to the funeral with just five minutes to spare after several plane delays.

And yet life has to go on. I meant to reflect on the beginning of my year with my five classes of students. I meant to do lots of things that haven’t quite happened yet. When we get back from camp I will be setting up some classes with blogs so that they can write and publish and make connections and find sources of information networks. I am lucky enough to be in a classroom with an interactive whiteboard full time (except for four lesson when I am in a computer lab). I have really enjoyed the learning that comes with this new technology and incorporating it into student centred learning. And the students have entered into it with gusto. But I always have to have plan B ready as I am still not confident that it will always work (after only two weeks the globe in the projector blew and it took a week to be replaced). We’ve had several lessons in various classes where the students work in groups to investigate a chosen topic (a section of a novel, the characters or themes in a film, parts of speech) and produce a report to the class using some aspect of the technology. In the study of the film Ice Age with year 7 for example I had pictures of the characters on various flip charts and the students annotated the charts with words describing the characters and favourite sayings. I have had the students using Inspiration to make concept maps prior to writing essays and class collection of quotes for a Year 12 text. I feel I am only just starting with incorporating the IWB into what I have heard Steve Hargadon refer to as School 2.0 in his fabulous series of podcast interviews.

I also had the chance to present about using the whiteboard to some of my colleagues, a chance I took with alacrity as I know that the best way to learn something is to teach it and also to learn from my colleagues things that they had learnt which I didn’t know. I started the presentation with a quote from Eric Hoffer: “In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists" which I found via my network. I also alluded to the fact that this kind of practice (the use of the IWB) in a classroom is not neutral and that we should remember to subject it to critical inquiry. There are issues of power in it’s use (who gets to control it, who gets to interact with the board and so on). With these provisos said we had lots of fun exploring and experimenting. The session is to be repeated with other colleagues and I do find that using the IWB and thinking of and planning activities does make me reflective of my practice. This is what writing in this blog is good for as well and I hope that I will not have such a long time between posts in future as I was starting to think that some of my reflective habits were unraveling.

I’ve just noticed that it’s not dark anymore and I have not yet started packing for my three days away. I still have to make some lunches and feed the chickens so it’s time I wasn’t here. Till next time, then.


  1. I am sorry to hear of your mother-in-law's passing. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Thanks for the post. I've missed reading your blog!

  2. Jo - I wondered what had happened - I always know that something is wrong when you don't blog - I'm so sorry - and it's wonderful to see your detailed and accurate reflections again.
    I always find you such an inspiring teacher and blogger.