Using the Interactive Whiteboard in the ESOL Classroom A Good Practise Guide Aims of Interactive Whiteboard Project at Hackney Community College Our aim was to „demystify‟ the interactive whiteboard, to show that it was not difficult to use and to encourage members of staff to use it. We also hoped that staff would develop their own flipcharts to use with the machine. To this end a number of trainings and workshops were set up to show staff how to use the IW and how to create their own flip charts. What is an interactive whiteboard? The interactive whiteboard, although resembling the ordinary whiteboard in external appearance differs from it in many ways. There are three main parts to the set up: A computer, which may or may not be connected to the network, a data projector, often mounted on the ceiling the whiteboard itself. All parts are linked together and by means of a special pen, called an e-pen, the board can be written on with this tool. There is a wire network imbedded in the material of the board and when the pen is applied to its surface an electric signal is produced which is picked up by the computer. The computer passes on the signal to the data projector which then projects on to the white board. Special software loaded onto the computer enables the user to control the thickness of the line drawn, change its colour, draw various preset annotations such as maps and shapes and to highlight text. The software includes a library of pictures, clip art-type drawings and paintings as well as a video clip. These can be easily inserted into flipcharts and modified to suit the lesson. Writing can also be changed into text and this in turn can be edited in much the same way as documents in a word-processing program. At a more advanced level, flipcharts can be created which have imbedded links to sound files, the internet or other flipcharts. So how does it differ from an OHP? Obviously it is a lot more versatile. Pre-prepared documents can be called up from the network, annotations added at the click of the e- pen, colours changed or text underlined and of course poor handwriting can be changed into typed text, using the text recognition feature. One of the main differences to the OHP or projector is the way text, pictures and objects can be manipulated, dragged and moved around the board using the e-pen. Students can be easily taught how to use this tool and can be called to the board, or use the slates to carry out matching and linking tasks, dragging pictures and objects across the screen. Some useful features of IW for ESOL teaching are: Matching exercises can be made where students link words to other words or pictures by drawing arrows. Able to call up pictures/images/photographs instantly – great visual impact - useful for context setting, eliciting new or revising old vocabulary or structures. Visual learners needs can be addressed using this feature. Resource Library also includes: ready-prepared flipcharts, video clips, cliparts, paintings, maps, speech bubbles, arrows etc. which can be called up quickly in the lesson, and used to prepare flipcharts in advance Images/Documents can be gradually exposed using the reveal tool and spot-light tools– useful technique for eliciting The preloaded pictures of famous paintings can be used to practise writing descriptions. These can be covered with a film of colour (use the drawing tool and a thick brush-stroke) and the picture can be gradually revealed using the eraser tool. Words and pictures can be covered with the highlighter pen and then revealed. So for example, a gap fill exercise could be prepared with the gaps already filled in but covered over and revealed after the students have attempted to write the correct answer. Words in sentences can be rearranged with the select tool by the teacher or the students – this is extremely valuable for reinforcing syntax and word order. The fact students can use the e-pen to do this either on a slate or on the main IW at front of the class also taps into the needs of the kinaesthetic learner Annotations can be displayed instantaneously Writing can be quickly converted to typed text using the text recognition tool – could be useful for motivating students with poor handwriting Sound can be added using links – students can quickly learn how to record sound onto the flipchart pages. Useful for drilling purposes and practising pronunciation. Text can be in any colour, size or thickness – useful for students with poor vision, low literacy. Text can be highlighted – attention drawn to particular parts of speech, suffixes etc. These could be colour coded and standardised across the department so students know red is used for verbs, blue for nouns etc. Flip charts can be prepared before hand and those created during class saved for another day to aid revision or review/recap at start of next lesson Practical top tips when using the IW in the classroom The I.W. should be set up in the morning before classes start and left on throughout the day. The projector alone should be switched off. If staff are not using files from their own user area then there is no need to keep logging off. On sunny days to improve visibility of the board, select black as the background and write with white or other light colour. To stop unwanted flip charts appearing it is a good idea to deactivate the right hand click button on the barrel of the e-pen. Call up a picture onto the board at the start of the lesson. This could relate to a topic students have already covered and use it as a warmer to get students to revise previous language, write sentences etc. Sounds can be called up – acting as auditory prompts Don‟t over clutter your screen with text. This can be distracting. Less is more. You also need space for annotations. Unlike OHP‟s you can move text around and move back and forward easily between pages on the flipchart. Use the colours carefully – pastels are more restful on the eye and the text is easier to read. Black with white or yellow writing is also effective for attracting attention. Using the e-pen to write letters and words on the board helps low literacy students become more aware of the way letters are formed, ie what direction an “a” is constructed. Use a font type and size that can be easily seen at the back of your classroom Arial, Comic Sans and Sassoon Primary are recommended font. When viewing a website, if you press F11 on your keyboard it will remove all the toolbars at the top of the page, displaying your webpage in a much larger screen, making the site more visible. To bring toolbars back, press F11 again. Look at using a wireless keyboard which can be placed near your whiteboard for times when you want to add text. This saves dashing back to your computer each time you need to enter text. If you are going to use a website in a lesson, add it to your Favourites / Bookmark it and then you can access it quickly and easily without typing in complex web addresses. To transfer work from home to school, why not e-mail it to yourself? Attach it to an e-mail from your home address and then pick it up on your school address. Try and create documents where you do not need to scroll up and down – instead of 3 paragraphs on one page, add 1 paragraph to 3 pages. Space your work well to leave room for annotations and comments, which can be retained if you do not need to scroll up and down the document. Problems/Issues in using IW in the ESOL classroom Expensive to set up Time taken to switch on and set up before each lesson. Health & Safety – can make eyes tired/neck strain. Also need to ensure equipment/leads etc are organised correctly…students coming to board and teachers moving around board area could be dangerous Shadow is produced while writing in front of the board. Creating flip charts is very time-consuming – even for staff with good IT skills Recommendations Technical Support The interactive white board is a complex piece of equipment and it is essential that the educational establishment have a dedicated I.T. support technician who specialises in maintaining and supporting the tutors using the board. Staff Training Staff must be trained and provided with on-going support in how to use it and how to develop materials for classroom use. We would recommend some initial trainings sessions to demonstrate the tools and the features of the board, followed by hands on workshops where staff work in small groups to prepare materials. We would also recommend that the software be installed in staffrooms and that where possible staff be given the opportunity to take home laptops with the software to practice and prepare flipcharts. We also found it extremely useful to have an Interactive Whiteboard “champion” on the ESOL staff team who was able, through remission, to give individual staff one-to-one tuition during lunch breaks or after class for half-an hour at a time. Materials Bank A library of useful flipcharts for use with different levels needs to be created. Useful internet sites for guidance on using IW and for classroom materials www.promethean.co.uk. – sales of whiteboards, technical support, downloadable materials. www.becta.org.uk – the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. Becta is the Government‟s lead agency for ICT in education.– Has information on research done on using the I.W. in the classroom. www.techlearn.ac.uk -. the advantages of using the I.W.