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Making the most of your interactive whiteboard

Posted on 19 Feb 2012 at 11:15

Don't start from scratch

You don't have to start each lesson with a clean slate. Even if your whiteboard's default flipchart is blank, you can choose from a range of backgrounds, grids and media to fit in with the theme of your lesson: for example, a graph paper background for a numeracy lesson. In Smart Notebook, you can find these resources in the Gallery Browser (View I Gallery); in Activlnspire, they're located in the Resource Browser, which may be opened by clicking on the second icon from the left at the top of the Page Browser. You can even create pages for a particular type of activity at the click of a mouse button, and it's worth browsing through the Gallery/Resource browser to see what grids and ready-made pages are available.

If you teach maths, you're in luck. There's a range of great tools available to make lessons more engaging, including an onscreen protractor. Look in the Insert menu (Smart) or the Tools menu (Promethean).

Spotlight tool

Revealing information

Interactive whiteboards have an advantage over the traditional kind in that you can prepare flipcharts in advance, so you don't have to turn your back on the class for long periods. However, this can be a disadvantage too: some pupils will read the whole lot in one go, and then throughout the lesson fail to take in what you're saying.

A great way around this is to use the Reveal tool (known as the Revealer in ActivShare, and the Screen Shade in Smart Notebook). lt allows you to show one bit of the screen at a time, and reveal more in your own timescale. Another fine tool is the Spotlight: prepare a page with a puzzle and the solution in advance, and you can reveal the answer with the Spotlight tool.

This is only scratching the surface, however. Gary Trotter, UK business consultant for the visualiser manufacturer, Elmo, likes to use layers to perform "magic". For example, he sets up a flipchart where children see two squares (which could be any shape or picture), with the number 4 in the lower one. Drag the box containing the number 4 out of the bottom of the square it's in, and then in an anti-clockwise direction over the top square, and it changes into a 12. As a teacher, all you have to do is ask the children: "what number has the number 4 been multiplied by?" For older pupils, there are higher-level questions using the same trick.

Magic layers

This neat effect is achieved by using layers. Create the boxes using the Shape tool, and use the Fill tool to colour them in. Then use the Text tool to create a box containing the numbers 4 and 12. Make sure you insert spaces between them and then highlight all the text in the box and turn the font white. Drag the textbox over to one of the squares, and use the menu option to bring it to the front. Repeat for the other square. When you drag the textbox you make the 4 invisible, because it will be white text on a white background, and the 12 visible, because you're doing the opposite.

If that sounds like too much hassle, there are simpler ideas, like the following from Whiteboard Slog's Danny Nicholson. First, use the text tool to write the word "Elephant". Then use a pen tool to draw a thick line over it in order to hide it. (This is more effective if you use a white pen, but then remembering where you've drawn the line could prove challenging.) Now ask the children what sort of animal has a trunk, then reveal the answer by using the eraser: it rubs out the line drawn with the pen, but not the text underneath.

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