Friday, March 16, 2007

Reflective Practice with a Swedish flavour

This week I had the interesting experience of having two teachers from Sweden, Frederik and Felix, visit my Year Eleven Literature class. They were part of a delegation of eight teachers who were visiting Australia to investigate what schools here are doing particularly, in the field of elearning (a return visit after some Aussies had been to Sweden). These teachers were specialists in Maths and Science at a senior secondary school in Halmstad, and they showed their breadth of interest by showing up in my class. I was happy to have them for a number of reasons, not least of which was because it was an occasion for self reflection for me. I knew they were keen to see the interactive whiteboard in action as they were about to implement the technology in their school and I made what I thought was a reasonably interesting interactive lesson on the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. BUT – it didn't work. I still haven't quite figured out why but I couldn't find the flipchart on the classroom computer after I saved it to the shared drive which is what I usually successfully do. So I invoked Plan B and still used the electronic whiteboard and had students present the results of some group work on it. But it was disappointing. As Frederik and Felix accurately pointed out, I had only done on the IWB activities that could have been done using a non digital whiteboard. I guess the student work was able to be saved to the network for access at a later time (or by other classes) and multiple screens could be used without having to wipe them clean between presentations. The work the students had done in groups was the selection of key passages of the play for close reading and analysis and a presentation on why they had selected them. The students still learnt and it passed my test of learning in a constructivist way. I shouldn't feel dissatisfied that we didn't use the IWB interactively. But it got me thinking. I teach mainly senior English and it is hard to find materials created for the IWB at this level in this subject area. Is that because we rely (or I rely) so heavily on small group and whole class discussion to create knowledge and meaning in the texts we study? Do you have ideas on activities or pedagogies using IWBs that are productive as well as engaging when studying English or Literature at senior levels. I'd love your ideas and suggestions. Please leave a comment (grin).

A resource I like a lot even though they don't answer my specific question is the podcast The Smartboard Lesson Podcasts at It is mostly a conversation between Ben Hazzard and Joan Badger about ideas and resources that have found or made. Sometimes they will include a guest to interview. I like their chatty style and how informative they are. It is never a waste of time to listen to them. Have a listen if you are interested in Interactive Whiteboards no matter what age level or subject area.


  1. Jo

    Yes, the conversation! Firstly, I too am a fan of the Smartboard Lesson Podcast. I think Ben and Joan communicate their enthusiasm for smartboards whilst being critically aware of research, practice and developments in the technology. And it is the best place to hear a whole range of educators talk about what they are actually doing in their classrooms. (The Virtual Staffroom is pretty good too.)
    Do you have the pin page feature on your IWB? This is demonstrated in Lesson 57 and enables you to keep the left page of your file the same as you go through a series of pages on the right. Useful for keeping an outline/graphic organiser/passage of text/image visible throughout a lesson or presentation.
    Lesson 55 is an interview with Alan November where he challenges the way most teachers use IWBs. Doesn’t give a whole lot of solutions, but does comment that the recording feature is underused. I’d agree that screencasting has great potential for skill revision, but also for creative work – building up an image or deconstructing a passage. Short recordings that can be saved and shared. Another possibility for student presentation of work.
    Lesson 50 is Ben’s male body image lesson with embedded media. It follows on from Joan’s female body image media lesson in Lesson 49 . In lesson 50 there is a video of a young man’s face being touched up with photoshop style effects. It doesn’t look that different at the end, until you go back and do a screen capture from the beginning and the end to compare.
    Now of course some of this stuff can be done with a normal projection screen, but I don’t think we should have to always be justifying the use of the board. The value of modelling computer use right at the screen is high and some things just can’t be done from the computer.
    My own favourite use of the IWB is for picture book study. I used a series of scans from our own picture books and had kids come out and emphasise features of the design – texture, line, shape, colour, focus. Great examples are the eyes in Margaret Wild’s Fox (also texture in this book) and the fun shapes and colours Jackie French uses in Diary of a Wombat to communicate humour from drawings of the characters (look for the triangles).
    You can also cut out pictures with a great deal of accuracy using screen capture at the board. Great for taking a character into a new context. Enormous potential for bringing the power of art into the study of literature.
    All that said, I am a teacher librarian and don’t get the chance to work with classes for sustained periods with the IWB. But I see lots of what others are doing and certainly using vivid images in authentic contexts alone can really enliven lessons. Annotations made on the IWB which are saved and made accessible in a shared space can be invaluable for revision. We have a teacher doing this very effectively for ancient history.


    Smartboard Lesson Podcast:
    Virtual Staffroom:

  2. Hi Jo,
    I'm glad you are enjoying our podcast! If you have a lesson you would like to share, let us know!