Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to teach with an interactive white board

One of the most frequent questions today at NCTM in Albuquerque was "how do I get the students involved with the software (in this case Sketchpad and TinkerPlots) using the interactive whiteboard?" Which, if you think about it, almost makes no sense...isn't that the nature of an interactive whiteboard - students are interacting?  But...apparently not. My guess is many teachers continue to use the interactive whiteboard in the manner that they used the projector/screen set up - as a demo tool, with themselves as the driver and students watching.

If you want interactivity and student involvement in order to engage students in learning and discovery, then you want them to "drive".  How to do this? Here are a couple suggestions:
1) Have students go up to the whiteboard and be the driver of the software physically, either by following the directives of the teacher or the steps in the activity worksheets or from inquiry and suggestions from other students in the room.  You can rotate through students by randomly selecting students in various ways.
2) Assign students in pairs/groups to be in control of the white board - perhaps assign each pair/group a specific task to demonstrate or model or explain or a specific step in a task.
3) The teacher is the physical 'driver', but the students drive 'what' actions to take. This works great if you are working with students to 'discover' something and there is opportunity for them to make conjectures and you can try them out and see the immediate results.  An example might be using an activity like Mellow Yellow from Sketchpad, where students are connecting real-world context to rate-of change and slope and time/distance relationships. The teacher asks the questions, the students come up with stories and conjectures, tell the teacher what to move to make a graph fit the story (or change the story)....so the students control the actions and direction of the activity to test their ideas.

Just some simple ideas.  Key here - get students to 'drive' the learning, whether physically or just verbally - either way they are engaged.

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