Tag Archives: IWB


Learning through play

After spending several frustrating hours trying to find online help videos which clearly explain simple SMARTboard tips, I decided this week it would just be easier all round if I made my own. I am sure there are many fabulous videos already made but sifting through the many that are not clearly explained or simply structured, has convinced me that was not worth my time. Plus the chance to learn a new skill which I could then transfer to my classroom is one I couldn’t turn down.

So I’ve been playing this weekend, playing with Camtasia. Playing and learning how to create screencasts. I have found the learning process both enjoyable and frustrating. Enjoyable because I love a challenge and frustrating because it has taken me several hours to get the hang of everything and to  produce a screencast with which I am satisfied.  My first attempts seemed to zoom in and out missing vital parts of the screen and it took me several goes to realise I could adjust the screen view within Camtasia. Having grasped the intricacies of what is really a simple to use and intuitive program, I am away. This morning while the house was quiet I created my first three screencasts, uploaded them to vimeo and inserted them into my techie brekkie blog ready for a staff training session next week called ‘Smartboard tips and tricks’.

As I was doing all of this I reflected on the notion of learning through play and wondered why I do not seem to be able to fit more of this type of learning  into my school days. I blogged earlier this year on how I feel I am always rushing. How I feel I am always trying to keep up, keep up with my program, keep up with my lesson plans and with the curriculum? The only time this year that my students have really had the chance to play has been in a suddenly free half an hour when I let them create get well cards for the much love Mrs P, who is sick. I blogged at year6rc about how much fun they had and how even this short session demonstrated so many of the teamwork and thinking qualities I try to promote.

The Australian curriculum is stuffed full of vital subjects that must be taught. Of outcomes and indicators that must be reached and topics that must be covered. Every day I fight a losing battle with my program, cutting lessons to fit everything in. Even though I do that  I worry that we do not reflect enough, it concerns me that it is just so hard to find the time to stop and think about our learning. As I have been playing and learning with Camtasia it has reminded me too that my students may be in year six but they need time to play. They need time to play with online tools, time to play with hands on materials, time to play and time to learn.

Do you find the time for your students to learn through play? And if so how do you manage it?


 Older Posts you might enjoy

Always rushing

Why I love my SMARTboard


The IWB – Love it or hate it?

In Sydney the IWB is becoming an integral part of more and more classrooms. Yet there still seems to be debate about their merits and the roll they play in the classroom. I have had my SMARTboard now for eighteen months and I would have to admit that it is only within the last six, that I have felt I am becoming an expert. I remember wanting to have an IWB desperately and the feeling that somehow I was missing out without one. I remember downloading the software before my board arrived and trying to figure it out. I also remember the moment it arrived. I turned it on and it hit me that many of my students, who had come from other schools that year, knew more about it than I did. I think for me that was the moment when I understood, that I had to let go of the idea of ‘expertise’ being at the core of my use of technology in teaching.

This week Jacob Gutnicki wrote a tongue in check post about IWB’s and the part salespeople place in their roll out into schools. The Bolshie teacher also wrote recently that IWB’s are nothing more than giant over-priced toys.  I have read complaints too, of ICT administrators, which claim that they love IWB’s because they offer a one size fits all approach to professional development.

In the comments to Jacob Gutnicki, Buzz Garwood - wrote “There’s GOT to be a revolution, rethinking, and retooling of our expectations of vendors. They can’t just squeak by anymore by offering a half-day in-service. Vendors need to offer more than a mere sale; they need to commit to schools long term, at least five years. They need to support their schools by creating digital content for them and showing educators how to use use this equipment beyond the minimum, limited PD. Teachers are at different levels of comfort with technology and most teachers need ongoing support. Vendors need to be curriculum specialists, not just salesmen”.

This knocking of the vendors, or indeed the administrators, seems to me to miss the point entirely. To me the IWB is a tool and in the hands of the right people that tool is a useful one. Yes it needs training but surely there has to be a point at which the teacher must themselves take ownership of that professional development?

Expecting vendors to somehow hold our hands as we teachers spend five years becoming masters of these tools does not in my opinion seem feasible. Although to some extent that is occurring. I was coincidentally at a vendor operated  SMARTboard users group meeting this week. At this I picked up a couple of new tips for organising pages into groups. Incidentally, while at this meeting I was chatting with a high school maths teacher, he estimates that he has devoted 350 hours of his time to mastering his IWB.

For me, the issue in my classroom is how to is implement best educational practice with and through my SMARTboard, as with any other tool. How can I integrate my SMARTboard without my lessons reverting to being totally teacher directed ones? How can I ensure that it is not about one student at a time pushing the screen to great excitement? Well to start with the SMARTboard software notebook has been placed on my classroom laptops. This ensures my students are becoming as familiar with the program as I am. Firstly they used it to create presentation files on different countries in which they embedded  that countries National Anthem. Now I notice that instinctively many of them are turning to it for all kinds of design work, much in the way they might once have used power point.

As for me, well late last year I signed up for a six month on-line IWB training course. Although less than impressed with some aspects of the course the need to deliver lessons as part of it has forced me to learn, evaluate and create my own files. It is hard taking such a course on-line, the support is limited and access to other teachers to reflect and learn with is limited. At times I have struggled to know just what is expected of me despite the clear instructions. I would not recommend taking an online course on IWBs unless you already have a clear idea of how they work. Learning in this way is a lonely business.

How about you? Are you still using your IWB as nothing more than a fancy whiteboard? Are you looking for advice, help and inspiration? Why not join the 2010IWB challenge. I have just done so, nothing like a new challenge to keep me on my toes!