Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Board in School!

The scene is set at last. After years of waiting we have finally moved into the new school. It is with some trepidation that some of the staff will come into school on Tuesday for training on their new Interactive Whiteboard (IWB). I too am nervous, I am keen for the new technology to be embraced and utilised but having not had an IWB before it is a bit of a culture shock for most of my colleagues. To this end I am just hoping to give them a walk through the board, one or two ideas and then the chance to play. The following day the school will be operating normally and I am keen that the children 'interact' with the board as soon as possible.

So I have my ideas, and some links to share but following the success of @dannynic and his literacy blog posting I set up an Etherpad and asked for input from the Twitter community. The resultant ideas for IWB's are not my own work but the postings of: @simonhaughton, @twowhizzy and several others who did not leave a name. Thanks for your input on this and it is this collaborative capability that makes social networking an ideal tool for educators.


As a starter, make sure they all understand how to align their board so that it can be interactive when touched and that they realise (if its a Smart Board) that the pens & rubber have to be put put back properly into their holders.

Also, make sure that they are are aware of a couple of health & safety points:

* Don't look directly at the light beam (there's been lots in the news about the dangers of this - e.g. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6253410.stm)
* Don't forget to turn the projector off - many a time I've seen a dark screensaver come on an then the user forget that something is still being projected.
* Clean the lens filter regularly so that the bulb doesn't get overheated.

* Use the spotlight tool to highlight areas of the screen.
*Similarly use the screen shade to hide/reveal things that are on the screen
* You can write on the IWB at any time, such as to annotate things on a website or pause a video and label things you can see in the frame


A game to consider for instant effective use and class interaction

The whiteboardblog is a great resource for tips and tricks

Some games where children have to reach around the board pressing lots of different things are always fun - see: http://www.active-maths.co.uk/games1/splat/index.html or http://www.oswego.org/ocsd-web/games/SpeedGrid/Multiplication/urikamultires.html

Three of my favourite sites with links to LOTS of games/activities on are www.ictgames.com, www.learningclip.co.uk and www.topicbox.co.uk They usually come in handy if I'm struggling to find an interactive activity on a particular topic.

For big timers to display on the IWB there's www.online-stopwatch.com/ and http://www.fieryideas.com/ (this also has other interactive bits on it like marble jars and advent calendars)

Using Smart Notebook
Hide and reveal techniques are really useful Post on my blog http://twowhizzy.blogspot.com/2007/02/bad-dog-exploring-hide-and-reveal.html

Rub and reveal place an object or a text element on a page, and using digital ink from the pen tool, cover areas of the screen. These can be erased to reveal either elements of an image gradually to support prediction, vocab development. or within a text to help predict words or phrases etc.

In maths this technique is quite handy during modelling sessions. eg prepare a calculation and example models away from class masking areas with "digital ink". These areas can be revealed (by rubbing away)as part of the modelling process to show the method and calculation beneath, but also to help review student predictions around what might be there as process evolves (AfL). I also use this to support talk for reasoning.

magic box
Uses layering on the notebook to help sort and classify. Eg a collection of calculations might be presented, or an odd one out type of quiz. Those objects that obey a certain rule will go into the box be hidden by an object. Those that don't obey the rule will appear out side of the box. Magic box is made by creating a set of objects to sort and an object to be the box/mask/screen. 0bjects that obey the rule are sent to the back, those that don't are brought to the front. The box/mask is placed on the middle layer.

White on white

is a favourite tool of mine, a coloured shape is placed on a contrasting coloured background. A number of text objects are created, and then recoloured to hide them against the central object eg if shape is white the text is coloured white. Pulling these out onto the contrasting colour say black, makes them visible again.

Science - set up experiment grid - variables can be labelled in boxes, and these boxes can be noved according to which variable will be changed, and which will be kept the same -like whiteboard sticky notes.

Coins onto a hand from the gallery would be good for KS 1.

Create mood page - with photo(s) and sound file(s). Create mood in classrooma and annotate page with vocabulary - good for scene setting in narrative writing, or empathy in history.

Younger children tracing handwriting letters from gallery onto whiteboard - 'Big' handwriting.

Already mentioned hide and reveal

Smart Gallery has a huge collection of Clip Art images and interactive resources (e.g. number squares, dice etc.) that can be dragged onto a slide to enhance it. Agree here I really like the dice for random calcualtion generators. Use the images to replace shapes in some of the hide and reveal activities, "hungry bear only eats.... Hungry bear becomes the magic box.

Just remembered that there's a presentation on Ideas to Inspire about IWBs - see http://www.ideastoinspire.co.uk/interactivewhiteboards.htm

http://magazines.scholastic.co.uk/content/1069 is a good link with 10 tips aimed at early years children

@wigglemyears flash games - http://www.kented.org.uk/ngfl/games/ are a fantastic set of resources for foundation and Key Stage 1 children.

So loads of links and ideas which I will share with my colleagues (probably a bit at a time!)

Visualisers next........

Friday, 22 May 2009

Humpty Dumpty

A previous Year 6 Animation Project.

Humpty Dumpty

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Suite smell of Success!!!!

The concept

It started on a coach nearly two years ago, we were on the way to the year six residential, the new school build was being discussed. As I sat on the coach talking to our headteacher the problem of the ICT suite was raised. The problem was the layout of the school - The ICT suite was not a room in its own right but an area of the school's 'Central Learning Street'. This meant that an IWB was impossible to place without effecting the functionality of the street. How could we have a display capability to allow demonstration of ICT skills and maintain the open plan learning street concept. A scrap of paper was produced, a pencil and the concept of our ict solution was born. The idea being back to back 42" flatscreens, one above each bank of four PC's. This allowed the inegrity of the school building to be maintained and yet gave display capability in ICT teaching. Further discussion and it was decided that this concept could be extremely versatile allowing for: Display to all four screens, group work with four children displaying to one screen, two seperate groups of eight displaying either side. Coupled alongside the media system I was planning to have installed in the new school we had the capability to display messages and media in the reception area and in the main school building.
Finally after months of planning, numerous meetings with the furniture manufacturer and our cabling specialists the table is being assembled. Watch this spot......

Monday, 11 May 2009

Smart table - A nursery perspective

The Smart table, whilst increasingly showing its worth across all the key stages, was originally purchased with early years in mind. To that end an opportunity arose for me to see how the table was approached by a nursery child, I seized the chance and spent some time observing a 3 year old boy interacting with the Smart Table.
  • Manipulation of images was quickly mastered and he easily moved the images around the screen, managing to resize images after being shown once.
  • Paint proved highly engaging and he enjoyed mark making on the table.
  • The height of the table was constricting and because of the angle of use his arms were registering as touches as well as his hands.
  • The level of engagement with the surface was encouraging, the pupil's normal very low attention span was held for approximately ten minutes.
  • Only used paint and media, need to think carefully how other activities can be adapted to engage yet challenge early years pupils.

For an initial play (still waiting to get the Smart table into the new school) I was encouraged by the experiment. Both the child and the accompanying member of mursery staff were engaged by the table. Unfortunately extremely limited communication skills prevented the child from giving any feedback on the table, nevertheless the engagement and attention precipitated by the table suggests that there is potential for the Smart Table to become a useable tool with nursery children.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Smart Table has Landed!

Finally, after much anticipation and a little annoyance that I did not have the very first Smart Table in a UK primary school, the table landed at St James the Great in East Malling. We are third in the UK I think, and certainly first in Kent...

I have not got as much to offer as Iain Hallahan or Tom Barrett with regards the use of this tool in the primary classroom, yet I am sure as our joint experiences grow as will my rambling on here.


Problems -

  • It appeared at first that turning the table on was not the simplicity one would expect from a Smart product. Wrong, it is just a case (against my better judgement) of following the instructions.

  • Then it just stopped working!! No apparent reason, complete lack of touch functionality. I remodelled the table (more instruction following) USB Mouse and Keyboard plugged straight in and I was working with a desktop. Went through the simple remodelling process and it all returned to normal. The upside of this sojourn into the inner workings of the Smart Table was the chance to play with the sensitivity parameters, not needed them yet but could do.


  • Ease of use, once up and running, so was I and all the staff who played (even the Luddites) could find there way round the simple interface.

  • The activities are simple to use yet there is a huge potential for the expansion and diversification of the content (limited by imagination I think!!!)

  • Target audience - I ordered it into school with the idea that it would be an ideal tool to ensure our Early years ICT provision is increased. Now I can see fights occuring across the Key stages for use of the table.

  • Creating content is simple and quick. After playing for only a few minutes was able to create content for the table that was age and subject appropriate.

So it has landed, the new school is not finished so the Table has not got its state of the art surroundings to live in but so far the Wow! factor has been great. Only positive feedback from all age of pupils and staff.

More to follow......