Educators can use several IWB teaching strategies to hold students' attention.

Most educators are thrilled to have interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in their classrooms, but many wonder how to make the jump from passive teacher lectures to truly interactive and engaging lessons.

Interactive whiteboards are received with enthusiasm, but many educators still hold a traditional view of what an IWB can bring to the classroom, said Alyssa Porter, leader of product marketing and content strategy for DYMO/Mimio, during a recent webinar on the topic.

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“We think we can do better than that,” she said. In fact, Porter and DYMO/Mimio have outlined a few tips to help educators enhance their IWB content and lesson delivery—and high-quality interactive lesson content is at the heart of their advice.

Porter said high-quality IWB content has:

  • Learning objectives that focus on observable and measurable student behaviors. “We want our students to be engaged in learning activities rather than merely clicking a button and watching something animate, or passively watching the teacher,” Porter said. These learning objectives provide a measure of improvement, communicate expectations clearly, and make it easier for teachers to select appropriate learning exercises, she said.
  • Assessment that is appropriate to the learning objectives. Teachers should teach exactly what they wish their students to learn, and not teach around the topic without touching on key points that will appear in assessments. Learning objectives and assessments might include the ability to dissect a frog, spelling words on a spelling list, or identifying mammals versus reptiles.
  • As many opportunities for the student to practice the skills as possible. Repetition builds fluency, Porter said, and student responses must become not only accurate, but fast. The difficulty level of the response opportunities should be sequenced appropriately, building from few to many or from easy to difficult. In addition, correct answers should not be “given away” by cues.

For more on interactive whiteboards, see…

Survey reveals educators’ must-have technologies

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Study: Ed tech leads to significant gains

Tracy Tishion, K-12 technology resources instructor with the Brookfield Public Schools in Connecticut, took webinar attendees through a step-by-step IWB lesson construction and pointed out necessary and unnecessary lesson components.

Using a title page models good practice for students, she said, but it also helps educators who post IWB lessons in full on class or teacher websites remain organized.

Lesson objectives should be stated clearly at the beginning of the lesson. Posting daily objectives on a board or displaying them in a classroom helps students keep their learning goals in mind, Tishion said.

Although using an IWB is a move from passive to interactive learning, Tishion said educators can use lessons they’ve already created and build on them to add interactive elements.

“Map out everything you have that is related to this, and then fill in the pieces with interactive components that will bring you to the next level of student engagement,” she said. This might include images, dynamic websites, and videos that relate to the subject matter.

“It really is interactive, and you are building on that, from simple to complex, as you work through this,” Tishion added.

Interactive lessons should become more challenging as you progress through them. For instance, during a lesson on plant and animal cells, Tishion might begin with a simple vocabulary list, pairing words with definitions.

It’s important to keep IWB pages neat, consistent, and free from clutter or distractions such as unnecessary animations or flashy transitions, she noted.

“Start simple and build; you can tailor specific needs [and interactive elements] to a particular grade level,” Tishion said.

For more on interactive whiteboards, see…

Survey reveals educators’ must-have technologies

New standard makes whiteboard content more accessible

New projectors make any wall an interactive whiteboard

Study: Ed tech leads to significant gains

She then will let students manipulate the IWB to match words and definitions before moving to a Venn diagram, and then incorporating voting software.

Students are able to download the DYMO/Mimio software on their home computers for free, and Tishion said they can download the original lesson file from her class website and use it at home for review or as a study guide.

“It’s a valuable tool for the teacher,” she said. “It engages kids in their own work—they absolutely love that.”