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 pdtogo.com. 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.