Good Practice Guide

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					   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
     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

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
      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
 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
 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


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

Useful internet sites for guidance on using IW and for classroom
materials – sales of whiteboards, technical support,
downloadable materials. – 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. -. the advantages of using the I.W.