The integrated whiteboard

In my last lesson the ebeam gave up the ghost halfway through, leaving me with my traditional whiteboard and pen. It certainly wasn’t a drama. The lesson continued and we didn’t really miss the IWB that much.  Until the end, that is.  I usually save the boardwork from the IWB at the end of each lesson and send it to the students by email. Not that lesson.  I don’t think it really mattered.

But for today’s lesson I remembered to take my digital camera … just in case.

Of course, the IWB worked like a dream. But I still took a couple of photos just the same, hoping to capture the way the board, the projector and the ebeam work together in a typical “integrated whiteboard” lesson.

I didn’t plan the boardwork beforehand.  I just took a couple of shots just before cleaning the board or moving on to a new stage and brought them home to mull over.

Here’s the first one:

On the left you can see our lesson “menu”.  The first point in the menu was a request from one of the students in a past lesson. When I asked them if there was anything in particular they’d like to do or work on, one student had asked to look at the use of -ing verbs and infinitive with stop, try and remember.   This is what the board looked like at the end of that stage.

In the previous lesson a student had shared a link to an awareness test video and we’d talked about how observant/unobservant we were. So, linking back to that discussion, I asked the students to think about two more adjectives: absent-minded and forgetful and to discuss in pairs whether, and to what extent, those adjectives applied to them.

In the feedback stage we drew up a list of things that are easy to forget (the second column on the board) – all of these came out of their previous discussion. We talked a lot about how to remember names, list-making, birthdays and my total inability to keep a track of where my mobile is.  As we talked I was aware of “farming” for examples of remember to and remember +-ing.  I was aware of using them as we talked, but I didn’t highlight them until the discussion had come to a natural conclusion.

Then I moved to the IWB section of the board for the grammar presentation stage. This was something I wanted to be able to save and send the students.  I wrote the two examples on the board – they were two things I’d said during the discussion.  I asked them to look at “it” and tell me what it referred to – and then in pairs they discussed why the -ing form was used in the first example and to + inf in the second.  I fielded their suggestions in yellow (sorry, it’s not very clear in the photo).

We then went back to our discussion and each person recapped their contributions using the two forms.  We then moved on to discuss our earliest memories. This was a great discussion.  With lots of opportunities to use the target language, but not pushed.  The four items at the bottom of the board (tonsils, swing, tell off and climb) came out of this discussion.

Here’s the second photo:

The menu has stayed on the left, the key vocabulary from the previous stage has moved into the bottom left hand corner.  We’ve just been discussing a photo mosaic that one of the students put together as a follow up task from a couple of lessons ago (point two on our menu).  It shows the seven wonders of the world plus the finalists in a 2007 online competition.  Having named the wonders (in green, in traditional pen – we could have used the IWB pen but there wasn’t really enough room and I didn’t want to write on the images) and worked out which were on the final list and which were runners up, we talked about who had visited where, when and why.  Another really interesting discussion.  Very student-led. Lots of remembering, which was great, although that hadn’t been my aim in using this image.  We always have a kind of “show and tell”  stage in every lesson of images, video clips, slideshows, songs that the students want to share and I’d promised to look at this particular one today.

The Sept/Oct/Nov line is there for the next stage. As I’m taking the photo the students are remembering the topics we’ve covered so far on the course.  We’ll go on to write them on the board, talk about favourites and make plans for the next month.

Sorry, a very long post. More description than analysis – but I just wanted to share a couple of snapshots of how the new and the traditional are blending in my classes at the moment.

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10 Responses to The integrated whiteboard

  1. David Warr says:

    This is great Ceri. I’ve learned a great deal from reading this about true blended learning from this. I’ve never seen the two integrated so neatly together. Generally, the two approaches are separate, even if they occur in the same lesson. I really do like this. Thanks.

  2. Ceri Jones says:

    Hi David, nice to see you here again!

    Yes, I’m finding the blend between the teaching technologies, old and new, really interesting at the moment. The portable ebeam sits very comfortably on the traditional white board and flicking back and forth between the two of them is pretty intuitive, though I guess I’m still pretty old school and I sometimes find myself reaching for, or handing over, the marker instead of the interactive pen.

    I tend to use the IWB for more structured “permanent” stuff like presentations, new vocabulary and language that emerges from discussions, and the whiteboard for more “process” stuff, the nitty-gritty we need for the activity in hand. And, of course, the whiteboard’s great for the “permanent” features like the menu.

    As for blended learning, I see that as being more the interaction between what’s going on in class, and what the students are doing at home (looking for links, images and texts to share with their classmates by email, creating slideshows, mosaics and presentations). And the IWB – and in particular the data projector – is a great bridge between the two, making it so easy for students to share and showcase the stuff they’ve been doing out of class, and for all of us to share resources such as images, videos, links and texts in – and for – our f2f lessons.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking comment!

  3. crazykites says:

    Hi Ceri,

    I’m really enjoying your ideas lately! I thought I’d tell you my tale of woe with blending both boards….we have a screen on our board which pulls down. I took a marker to highlight something on a webpage I was showing and I accidentally drew on the screen! That certainly broke some ice in my CAE lesson…so be careful how you blend things…. 😉

    You’re boardwork is very neat! Mine is all over the place…and my pens always stop working. 😦 I agree that it’s a nice thing to be able to save work for future reference. In our centre at the mo, there is only one ebeam fixed in one classroom, so I can only use it for two groups, which seems a shame. I like the idea of doing a show and tell…how long are your classes, generally? And how much time to you devote to show and tell?


    • Ceri says:

      Hi Kirsten, nice to see you here again!

      Yup we all have our permanent boardmarker stories to tell! A student in Italy once wrote something pretty obscene on my whiteboard in a permanent marker – we couldn’t get it off for ages 😦

      As for the show and tell, it really depends on how it takes off and how much time we have to give to it. I’ve started lessons off with an image and had it run and run till the break (the class is two hours long, we have a short break after about an hour) with various pair, group and whole class discussions and going off at tangents to explore the language that comes up. Sometimes I keep it till the last 10/15 minutes of the class and then they write about it in their emails later, or find something similar to show themselves next time.

      Sorry, not a very clear cut answer – but as we don’t have a coursebook to follow (or have to follow a coursebook 😉 ) it’s pretty much carte blanche and a lot of the lesson input comes from the students, about 70 / 30 at the moment I think (figure plucked out of thin air) – 70 from them, 30 from me, ‘cos I like to share too 😉

      • crazykites says:

        That’s cool. I’ve been doing this for 7 months or so, and five months were only part-time, so that only counts as 2 proper months, I’ve decided. I am grateful to the text book while I’m still a novice teacher because it helps A LOT with the language, vocab and grammar elements that I’m still getting to grips with myself. On the other hand, the pressure to get through a portion of the book before Christmas (easier with certain groups than others) then I’m restricted to the nice things I can do. I still try to do different things from time to time. I thought the show and tell would be great for a certain group, but I only get an hour with them, which flies. I told them if we get through the units before Christmas, we can do some show and tell-type activities. We’ll see if we get that far 😦

      • Ceri Jones says:

        You’re right, an hour is so short and it does fly by! How about doing very short five minute show and tells at the end of a lesson every now and then just to round off the lesson- that way there’s no danger of it “running away” with you and “stealing” time from the coursebook?

  4. Dan says:

    Hi Ceri,

    Like David, I’m finding these windows on your classes really interesting, even if there are no earth-shattering conclusions! One question I have about the IWB is whether you can see any advantage it has over your back-up idea, the digital camera, which is low-tech but manages to ‘capture’ the lesson in much the same way (without the faff).

    • Ceri says:

      Hi Dan!
      To be perfectly honest, no, not at the moment, though I need to learn a lot more about what it can do/ I can do with it. And I’m still very open to persuasion.

      The data projector, the trad board and the digital camera are a great combination. Slightly more faff in having to download the images from the camera to the computer rather than having them stored there already – but that’s really a question of minutes – if not seconds!

      Mind you the captures from the IWB scrapbook look much brighter and more attractive than the digi photos of the board. But that is purely cosmetic (though I guess cosmetic has its place too.) And maybe, maybe the fact that there are two mediums make me think more carefully about how I use the board in general (though you know I’m a bit of a boardwork control freak whatever the board).

      If I was going to invest, I think I’d get fixed projectors in all the classrooms with dedicated netbooks as a start and then keep watching the IWB space for developments (and falling prices). Maybe having one portable ebeam around is good, though, too, as it would mean that anyone who wanted to experiment with it could.

      Will keep you posted on any changes in my position 😉

      • David Warr says:

        A very interesting discussion. Am I right in thinking we all agree that capturing the board in some way is worthwhile? To answer Dan, I think if a program can capture the image without the faff and remains interactive, then it has a definite advantage over a photo in that you can come back to it in a future lesson and expand on it. This, to me, is very dogme. You can build up a series of images over time that reflects the learning process that has occurred. Ceri, a recent comment you made on another blog about how interactive activities are essentially top-down approaches has really helped me think about how to incorporate technology with a bottom-up approach. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive, and your boardwork here is showing the way for me and others. It’s great stuff.

        Yes, I’ve had students writing on the interactive whiteboards with real pens! Terrible.


  5. Ceri Jones says:

    Hi David!

    I’m definitely not throwing the IWB out any time soon! We’re working now on collating all our images and notes and links on a blog that’ll act as a kind of one stop resource bank and record of the work we’ve done. And yes, it’s great to be able to go back to the scrapbook pages and rewrite them – thanks for the reminder – going to do more with that side of things!

    As always, thanks for the thought-provoking comments!

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