Work Wonders with Interactive Whiteboards

Three tips to make sure implementing interactive whiteboards meets today's three teaching truths.

Three tips to make sure implementing interactive whiteboards meets today’s three teaching truths.Three tips to make sure implementing interactive whiteboards meets today's three teaching truths.

By Chris Bress

In the old days, education used to be about the three Rs: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. (Too bad it wasn't about spelling!) Today, it's more about the three Ts: training, tools and thematic content.

Three tips to make sure implementing interactive whiteboards meets today’s three teaching truths.Three tips to make sure implementing interactive whiteboards meets today's three teaching truths.

In the old days, education used to be about the three Rs: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. (Too bad it wasn't about spelling!) Today, it's more about the three Ts: training, tools and thematic content.

Technology is changing classroom curriculum and the ways in which reading, writing and arithmetic are taught. Whiteboards play a lead role in this change because they are the chief information conduit, used by both teachers and students.

If you're thinking about installing interactive whiteboards in your school district, here are three things to consider as you prepare to move forward.

1. Training is the key to success.

I know it sounds cliché, but truer words were never spoken. Often when IT departments implement new technology in school districts, training gets shortchanged. Why? Mostly because of the time and cost associated with providing a rigorous and relevant training program. I cannot stress this vehemently enough. Do not skimp on training when you undertake an interactive whiteboard initiative.

Consider offering an ongoing, systematic and sustained training plan that spans several weeks. This will enable teachers to learn the new technology in manageable portions, and it will give them time to practice each set of skills before they are asked to move on to the next level. In our model, each teacher received two hours of instruction followed by a week of practice before they moved on to the next lesson. We repeated this pattern for seven weeks.

Training in this fashion was a win-win for Charlotte County Public Schools because the experience was meaningful to the teachers. It was cost-effective for the district because for every three teachers we trained, we paid for only one substitute.

It is important to realize that using an interactive whiteboard will require your staff to teach in a way that may be outside their comfort zone. The best way to ensure they – and, therefore, their students – will be successful is to provide them with the training necessary to make them feel at ease.

2. Pick a solution that provides you with the best tools for the job.

Let's face it: Implementing interactive whiteboards is expensive. Why would you do it if you weren't going to have a positive impact on student learning? To make sure you get the results you are seeking, pull together a strong group of teachers from each discipline and let them play with all of the models you are considering. Then, pick one and standardize.

Choosing one model and sticking with it will not only help you manage the implementation but also ensure a much higher level of use among teachers.

3. Provide access to rich thematic content.

A blank page is one of the most daunting things to face in life. If you want your teachers to be immediately successful, provide them at the outset with rich thematic content. This will let them tap the power of the boards right away. With time and experience, they will begin to create their own content, and better yet, they will start to share it with others.

I view this as paying it forward. If you provide teachers access to high-quality content upfront, they are more likely to take full advantage of the cool new tool you just put in their room.

When all is said and done, the goal of education can be boiled down to two words: student success. In fact, that simple phrase is the vision statement of Charlotte County Public Schools. We believe that for every child to succeed, we must reach out to them using every modality.

Schools across America have had visual and auditory methods in place for years. Now, through the use of interactive whiteboards, we can reach our kinesthetic learners as well.

21st Century Classroom in Action

To see how Chris Bress and his teachers in Charlotte County are “paying it forward” and integrating technology in the district's curriculum, view two videos at edtechmag.com/k12/events/videos/videos.html.

<p>Jeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images</p>

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Apr 05 2010

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