Hands Off, Vanna!

Hands off, Vanna! Giving Students Control of Interactive Whiteboard Learning

Tips and Management Strategies for student centered use of the IWB

IntroTips and Strategies • Working with wordsWorking with images
Create/improve/decideTeacher SharingResources

Arrange the IWB as a STUDENT workspace If your IWB is mounted on the wall, arrange desks to make that wall the side of your classroom, not the front. You may want to connect it to a student computer to avoid having students access files on a teacher laptop. Arrange the desks so students can walk to the IWB without attracting attention. In an elementary classroom or middle school, make it one of the centers where students work in small groups or with a partner. Use a token such as a hat or thinking stick for students to pass around, giving permission to one or two to get up and add ideas to the IWB as a sidebar during whole-class discussions without raising a hand to ask. The person(s) with the thinking stick(s) operate the IWB. If you are fortunate enough to have a pass-around tablet that connects to the IWB  (or an iPad with connection to operate the IWB computer’s  desktop remotely), having students add their own ideas is even easier and less disruptive.

Make the IWB student-friendly

Set the default font in your IWB software to a sans-serif font like Arial or Tahoma. These are easier to read on a projected screen with glare, especially for students with visual discrimination problems. Check for sidelight glare from windows. The first time young students do a drag and drop activity on an IWB, include a practice piece of clip art, such as a car or train, to learn the "feel" of dragging items on the board. Little ones may do better dragging with a sleeve pulled over their fingertip or a cotton glove (think Michael Jackson).

Activity formats

IWB center (K-6 or so)
  • Use the IWB as one of many classroom centers, having 2-3 students work together.
  • Kinesthetic learners benefit from "touching" the words, images, etc.
  • Demonstrate how to SAVE AS so students can "turn in" work.
  • Avoid using the IWB center only for drill and practice web sites. While these provide great reinforcement of skills, your students will love manipulating their own words and pictures, too, especially because they can save and OWN their work.

Student "sidebar" (middle to HS)
  • Rotate class "scribe" assignment, keeping whole-class open notes on the IWB. Give a whole class grade for completeness of notes so everyone will chime in things to include.
  • Open up the IWB as "closed captioning for the thinking impaired," allowing students to inject their own thoughts, too.
  • Allow humor, but define limits (PG?) appropriate to level.
  • Model using a sidebar during student show/tell, getting to know you activities, or student presentations, adding your own thought questions in reaction to what is being presented.

ALL 4 one
  • Whole class earns ONE grade for the accuracy of their decisions and work on a ranking activity or other challenge.
  • Student emcee (rotates) operates the board (calculus story).
  • Define limits so no bullying.
  • Start with smaller groups so they learn to cooperate and debate.
  • Success depends on student motivation level/ topic (some will sit back, depending on how much they care about the grade).

Anonymous drafts
  • student writing ("guinea pigs") shared on IWB anonymously for whole class or small groups
  • especially good for focusing on a writing concept such as powerful adjectives or strong topic sentences
  • repeatedly enforce the “we have no idea who wrote this…” when/if others try to guess
  • give a print out of suggested revisions to the guinea pigs- discreetly!
  • guinea pigs benefit by getting their “work done,” though many still change it afterward

Small group to large group/same at seats
  • more of a traditional class format- less student centered, though emcee can be a student
  • seated student partners have pre-printed copies of notebook activity (student drafts, passage to be highlighted, etc.)
  • work with partner to generate ideas and raise hand when you have one to share
  • students share on IWB

Tool master / Master of ceremonies
  • not as student-centered, since whole class
  • rotate or draw names
  • choose students for good listening skills, tech skills, not necessarily concept mastery
  • not necessarily best achiever (makes them look good in front of peers who are directing their actions)

Bump Vance/Vanna
  • only in classes where students are kind
  • board operator works until he/she makes a mistake during a whole class challenge
  • students can “bump” Vance/Vanna and take his/her place by pointing out a mistake

Student-made activities
  • IWB software student editions/free to install if you own the hardware
  • check licenses and request installation on ALL computers
  • Do NOT use for glorified POWERPOINT!
  • challenge your classmates
  • review
  • games for research sharing

Thought Wall
  • works best in classes where the teacher values divergent thinking
  • students enter questions as they enter class
  • pass thinking stick during class to students who have thoughts-- intellectual graffiti!
  • establish ground rules
  • teacher should model entering thoughts/questions as students talk
  • save and share thought walls on wiki/web page as a unit progresses
  • extra credit for thought-provoking connections or questions (CREATIVITY!)
  • I wonder…

Problem solving or group collaboration studio
  • students sign up for IWB time during group projects, study halls, before or after school
  • provides a place to meet, discuss, work through problems on a big screen
  • results can be saved and shared with all group members
  • the IWB is STUDENT WORKSPACE, yet another tool option available to them, a meeting space with built in tools


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