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What have our Irish Project Teachers found in using the Interactive Whiteboards?

Here is a selection of teacher comments:

The ability to save lessons and charts for future use is great. The children love seeing new topics and images on the screen and will often suggest ways of doing things that I would never think of.

These [images] allow the children interact directly with the board in a less teacher-time dependent manner.

Without the whiteboard the quality and range of resources is severely limited to pictures in textbooks and old posters.

The CBI avoids me having to juggle posters, CD players and chalk during a lesson.

The ability to be able to write on the CBI, change colours, isolate letters, resize images, take a camera snap of other images is fantastic to have.

Using the CBI so far has changed my classroom completely; the classroom has become a more interactive place. The children have decided to make their own flipcharts for their next project.

Once I had started using the board the children grew very attached to it.

With the CBI it is so much easier to stimulate and engage students.

It caters for all the learning styles.

Student: 'We were in the interactive whiteboard room today. It was deadly. The [CBI] is a really cool great invention. It makes it fun because it's more colourful than a blackboard and I think it's easier to take in more information from it.'

The above comments are abstracted from the Private Discussion Forum at www.cesi.ie/forum - Date Accessed (by Forum Moderator) 19 September 2006

Below are more detailed comments from a number of CBI Teachers:

Teacher 1:
Generally I find the whiteboard to be a very valuable resource in the classroom. The ability to save lessons and charts for future use is great. The children love seeing new topics and images on the screen and will often suggest ways of doing things that I would never think of.
Overall, however, I use the whiteboard more for the display properties ahead of the interactive tools. I find it invaluable to be able to locate images and resources on the internet and display them. I simply don't have enough time to develop many flipcharts with interactive elements built in. Also I feel that when I do develop an interactive flipchart, it could take an hour to make and would only last seconds in the classroom. The camera/ screen capture tool is brilliant and I also use an Encyclopaedia and various geography programmes on the board. These allow the children interact directly with the board in a less teacher-time dependent manner.
Without the whiteboard the quality and range of resources is severely limited to pictures in textbooks and old posters. The ability to annotate over images and draw the children's attention to details is useful. Also I find the grids section of the software great when teaching many areas of Maths. Overall, I love the whiteboard and fear I will feel quite restricted when I return to using a normal board.

Teacher 2:
I have found the Interactive Whiteboard to be an invaluable classroom tool. I think that particularly in an infant class it is so visual for the children and they love the fact that they can come up and select images, play sounds, change pencils, colours etc. However, I find that with a class of 31 it is hard to make sure everyone has 'a go'. I also find that it challenges me to prepare lessons that are interactive for the children rather than purely using the CBI for presentation purposes. I really enjoy using the CBI, however I find that it requires a huge amount of preparation time and this can be quite time-consuming as it often takes me a couple of hours at home to prepare a lesson that may, as Fiona has said only last a few minutes in class.
With the CBI I have a range of resources at my fingertips, from the images in the resource library to easy access to the Internet. It also enables me to incorporate sound or to record the children's own sounds into a flipchart which they love to do. At the moment, I am trying to use the CBI as an activity in the infant class so when other children are engaged in other activities, I work with one group at the board. They love this and most recently we created a Halloween story where I had pre-selected some images into a personal category and then the children could come up and select an image or draw their own and then give me a sentence corresponding to the image which I then wrote onto the CBI. Many of them were keen to add sounds to their images and the whole class loved putting the story together. Needless to say it took a huge amount of time to get round the whole class and we only finished it last week, but better late then never!
Without the CBI I would not be able to prepare and save lessons and add to them or amend them at a later stage. The ability to be able to write on the CBI, change colours, isolate letters, resize images, take a camera snap of other images is fantastic to have. The CBI avoids me having to juggle posters, CD players and chalk during a lesson and the children can always see the images on the board. The CBI also allows for cross-curricular integration as a flipchart I prepare for one subject may lend itself so easily to another subject.
Despite there being a lot of preparation time involved, I have found the project to be enjoyable and challenging as it challenges my thinking to prepare lessons that the children can interact with and that they will enjoy.

Teacher 3:
Using the CBI so far has changed my classroom completely; the classroom has become a more interactive place. The children are so interested in the technology. They love when we find out something new on the whiteboard, when they are able to play a new game …so much so that the children have decided to make their own flipcharts for their next project.

Without the CBI I could not have been able to
• import pictures from the internet to show the class
• record work that I had done the day before
• save work that the children had completed
• involve the children more in lessons by enabling them to come up to the board and move objects
• print lessons that I had done in class

With the CBI it is so much easier to teach certain topics to the children for instance with:
• ‘Time’ the children are able to see the clocks on the board and move the hands to change the time
• ‘Irish’ you can save the work from the previous day so that you can refresh the children’s memory
• In ‘Geography’ I was able to import maps to show the children different places

The children really like the CBI because:
• it is so colourful
• it can make sounds
• it plays music
• it can play DVD’s and videos
• it has interactive games
• they can play games
• it makes the lessons more interactive

I have found the whole project so far very interesting – the software has changed my teaching approach completely; it has made my job so much more interesting and I feel that the children are learning a lot more and are more interested in learning as a result. They are always interested to see what new things I have done or things they can do on the board and to come up to the whiteboard themselves.

Once I had started using the board the children grew very attached to it. When faced with the prospect that they were going to lose the board they were very upset. The upset of moving the classrooms was also a big factor …so much so that the school decided to invest in another CBI.

Teacher 4
I am currently using the interactive whiteboard with one of my ... classes and comparing it as a teaching method to my other ... class, who I teach using the [ordinary] blackboard.

Without the CBI I could not access website addresses. When doing the digestion chapter, I was able to bring up the diagram of the digestive system. Looking at the digestion of starch, proteins and fats, the clipart images in the human folder were a valuable resource. Using PowerPoint presentations and an interactive cd in plant biology enthuses the students as sometimes they perceive these chapters as 'boring'. As for maths I use the templates for graphing functions. When explaining maths problems step by step, I found using the palette with the different colours helpful, to emphasise certain points. Using the board with my ... class proved beneficial when teaching factorisation. Some students got confused with the different types of factorisation. By using the list icon on the toolbar I was able to explain why the different sums were factorised differently.

With the CBI it is so much easier to stimulate and engage students.

The children really like the CBI because in pairs they are often afforded the opportunity to write on the board or to present a topic using the board. They like the use of different resources. The following are two excerpts from two student's biology diaries. 'I like using the IW very much because it keeps me alert and I genuinely learn. It would feel too boring to just sit in a class listening for 40 minutes. This class was fun today.' Another comment was 'We were in the interactive whiteboard room today. It was deadly. The IW is a really cool great invention. It makes it fun because it's more colourful than a blackboard and I think it's easier to take in more information from it.'

I have found the whole project so far to be worthwhile and fun. I feel it contributes greatly to the teaching and to the learning process. It caters for all the learning styles. Creating the resources takes time.

Teacher 5
Using the CBI so far [helps to make] my lessons more creative and colourful. The students love the board. It keeps them completely alert and they can tell me where I am going wrong if I click something wrong on the screen.

I have one project group but I find myself bringing other classes in addition to the project group.

Without the CBI I could not have been able to
• Incorporate a PowerPoint presentation into my class as well as I do now.
• Would not be able to correct errors or add more detail to PowerPoint presentations.
• I would not be able to switch easily between a PowerPoint presentation and the board.
• Quickly revise the material that I covered in the previous class.
• Quickly go back to an example covered at the beginning of the class in order to help a student to understand the topic.
• Incorporate an interactive periodic table or other inactive resources available on the web as easily as I can currently do it.

With the CBI it is so much easier to teach certain topics to the children.

The children really like the CBI because:
• it is so colourful
• it has pictures
• it can make sounds
• it can play DVD’s and videos
• it has interactive games
• it makes the lessons more interactive
• They can pick what colour of pen then use when they write on the board.

I have found the whole project so far very interesting – I have made a concise effort to make my lessons more creative and more interactive.

I would have preferred if I’d have full access to the board and that the board was bigger as it is difficult to fit a lot of hand-written information on it.

...and here are a range of insightful comments gathered during the course of our work in schools:

“We are quite unusual in that we have very strong IT people in the school and we have a lot of IT going on in the school which when I compare it to my friends in other schools make us unusual. Working in a disadvantaged area we try to do things to have an edge”

“We like to get involved in IT as much as possible and as we don’t have much money to spend, if there’s a way to get some equipment we will generally go for it”.

“With the IWB I find that because I’m preparing for my lesson in advance I’m more prepared in class with what I’m doing and it’s much better because sometimes you could say ‘ok I’m going to do this on the blackboard’ but when you are actually typing everything up in advance and you have everything prepared your class goes much more smoothly and you even get more covered… you seem to get through more”

“I think I’m far more organised. I have to be because you can’t wing it on the IWB, you can’t make up lessons as you go along because it’s a computer and with little glitches that come along you have to know how to get around them and when you’ve worked on preparing it at home you know how to get around these glitches. You can’t do that on your feet in the class because the children are all there and you don’t have that time, so your lesson has to be prepared.”

“It’s the whole freedom we have with it. It’s not just about the preparation which is a big part of using it but there is also the incidental learning that if something comes up in class you have access to the Internet to explain it better. It also holds their attention because it’s very visual and active and the children are always saying ‘oh I want a go, I want a go’.

“It’s the immediate high level visual impact. Whatever I’m talking about I can literally go on line and show them a diagram and capture the image. The wonderful thing about it is that it’s like having a living textbook on the screen. They can’t but take note of what’s in front of them”

“It’s definitely been beneficial in terms of their computer literacy and familiarity with computers. Trying to explain to a class in a computer lab how to open a file or set up a new folder can be difficult and then going around individually to check if it’s done correctly takes a lot of time. Whereas you can show it on the IWB and call a child up to do it in front of the class. So I find there’s been a huge jump in their ideas of where you save things.”

“There is no contest between the lab and the IWB. We only have access to the lab for an hour every two weeks and by the time you get everything set up and everyone settled you really have only about 30-40 minutes of quality time in the lab. Here what they are learning with the IWB is based on the curriculum and they are coming up to the board so you can see how they are doing. I’m using the IWB for teaching all the subjects so I think there is no comparison between them. The IWB wins hands down.”

“The IWB is much better for integrating technology in your teaching. I used to use the computer lab once a week or maybe once a fortnight for teaching, but I don’t think much more often than that unless we were doing a particular project which I wanted to get finished. But I use the IWB in all of my [subject] classes now.”

“For me it’s an essential tool but it’s just one of the many tools that I would use in the teaching of [my subject]… but the most important tool in the class is the personality and style of the teacher…. So it’s a tool like any other. It can be used in one thing but it might not be used in the next because it mightn’t be appropriate”.

“It suits the way I teach in that I do like variety. I don’t like to stick to one plan and have that plan forever and a day. It certainly enhances what we do in the classroom. But in the end of the day it’s like anything once the tool is there the possibilities are enormous but it is very much down to how the teacher uses it”.

“I think it has definitely changed my teaching style whereas before I found I was doing an awful lot of blackboard work and putting my notes on the blackboard and teaching from notes, I don’t do anything as much as that now. I have a lot more interactivity in the classroom now and one of the reasons is that we also have the internet with the IWB and the new software which came with it also which is much more interactive and the [students] love it..”

“In terms of benefits first of all there’s the quality it brings because it’s very visual and it also slows me down as well because I tend to talk and write very fast but I can’t physically write on the IWB as quickly as on the blackboard. It has also helped me to communicate better with the students and has allowed me to enjoy my teaching that bit more.

“Definitely it has changed my teaching style. I suppose I’d be very dramatic in my classroom and in a sense that element has diminished because I’ve got the IWB doing it for me. Whereas now I would think a lot harder on ways to put stories into the lessons, ways to use the IWB as productively as possible with the children, so I suppose my lessons are becoming more academic in a sense that I focus now a lot on computers and trying to get the lessons as interesting, and it’s almost taken away a little from my own style of teaching, but I try as much as I can to balance the two out”.

“If given a choice of having only one or the other, I think I would prefer to have a computer lab. I have issues with control of the IWB and I like the idea that every child has their own keyboard and can almost learn independently rather than the control being fixed in the hands of the one person who has that mouse or keyboard….There is a danger with the IWB that it can give control back into the teacher and you have to be conscious of that in your mind and make sure that that doesn’t happen”.