IWB Classroom Management Solutions
Dumping the Sage on the Stage
When the overhead projector was introduced, teachers everywhere celebrated. No longer were instructors trapped in front of the chalkboard. They could face their students, monitor classroom behavior, and still write as they taught. With the introduction of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), however, we seem to have taken a step backward. IWBs are either touch or pen activated, and as teachers strive to fully utilize their IWBs, it’s easy to get trapped up in the front of the classroom. If you’re feeling as though your back is turned to your students and you’re longing to sit among them, make eye contact, and monitor classroom behavior, then consider investing in one or two of the suggestions below.
Liberating Technology: Slates
The slate is portable, wireless, and designed to respond to an electromagnetic (or similar technology) pen. Unlike a mouse, which can be picked up and placed anywhere, the space on the slate corresponds to the space on the board. A pen placed in the upper left corner of the slate will place the cursor on the upper left corner of the IWB. This can take some getting used to, but slates are great because they allow you the freedom to move around the classroom so you can use proximity to quiet restless students. Students also like the option of manipulating the IWB from their seat or up front.
Name Brand Portable Slates – $300-$400
The makers of Promethean and SMART boards both create name-brand slates that are compatible with their boards. If you have another IWB maker, chances are they make slates, too. Buying a slate that is made by your IWB company is a smart move if you want to guarantee compatibility and customer support. Your school may also be able to negotiate discounts if you buy a bundle package.
Third Party Slates – $200-$300
If your department and/or administrator is balking at the price tag of name-brand slates, you can also shoot for third party slates, such as RM ePad or the Mobi by eInstruction. Generally speaking, these slates are designed to work with any computer and don’t require an IWB. If you (or your tech department) don’t mind fiddling with the software to get your slate working, this could be a good option for you.
Simple and Affordable Solutions
The reality for many teachers is that there simply aren’t enough funds to go around to buy these awesome tools. However, there are easy – and affordable – ways to get you back to working among your students.
Home Office Bundle – $15-$150
Buy a cordless mouse and keyboard bundle that utilizes a USB port or bluetooth technology. The wireless mouse gives you the freedom to manipulate your IWB from anywhere in the room. And the wireless keyboard is perfect if you want you or your students to type on the board without going to your computer or using the floating keyboard. Additionally, you and your students are already used to using a mouse and keyboard.
Logitech, Microsoft, HP, Lenovo, Kensington, and other manufacturers make mouse and keyboard bundles that cost less than $50.00. Bluetooth tends to be more expensive, but often the range is better. However, many USB wireless bundles have ranges up to 30 feet, giving you plenty of flexibility. Just make sure you research the range on your desired device and read user reviews before purchasing. And most USB wireless bundles are “plug and play,” meaning all you have to do is put in the USB receiver and your computer recognizes it instantly.
Student Oriented Instruction – FREE
As much as possible, have your students use your IWB. Your students should be front and center, writing vocabulary words, solving equations, drawing pictures, making diagrams, and transcribing classroom discussions. As you reconfigure your lesson plans, try to incorporate as many student-centered activities as possible. You can always save student work for future reference. Looking for ideas? See Chart Page, Animation and Sound, Use Old Lesson Plans, and Understanding Layers. Or, ask other teachers for ideas, do some research online, experiment, and ask your students for feedback!