Interactive Whiteboard Challenge, 2008
CHALLENGE NUMBER 1
I struggled to find a worthwhile task for this Challenge that fitted in with what was going on in my Grade 4 classroom. Some good advice came from one of the other challengers echristophy Why not think about revisiting a learning activity that we had already done, and involving more of the students’ senses second time around.
Our main lesson in maths over the last week investigated the properties of 3-D shapes. I wanted the students relate their knowledge of 3-D shapes to real objects and 2-D shapes. We played a game of Celebrity Heads, with a student having to guess a 3-D shape seen by the class but not by them, and asking the audience yes/no questions. The game was popular, fast and seemed to ‘bump up’ the students’ use of mathematical language.
I created a Notebook file ‘What Shape Am I?’ with the help of a small group of students. We inserted 3-D clip art from ‘Inspiration’ software. For each shape the group created clues based on the mathematical features of the shape. The clues were written down on a small (non-electronic!) whiteboard. These were recorded using Audacity. The students inserted a text box with the name of the shape and then scribbled over it with the stripy fat pen for a rub-and-reveal effect.
My one regret is that I did not enable all students in my class to create a file. I felt constrained by time.
CHALLENGE NUMBER 2
Finding a valid purpose for the infinite cloning tool arose quickly in my classroom. We had been conducting an inquiry into Heroes: what makes us choose our heroes, and what choices have heroes made in their lives? Towards the end of the inquiry each student chose one particular hero of theirs. To examine the characteristics of heroes we brainstormed and collected terms over a few weeks. These terms were used in the Smartboard lesson file, placed at the top of the page and all cloned. Three sorting boxes were set up and the whole-class group looked at three heroes – which characteristics could be applied to each of these heroes? Students took turns to drag a cloned word under a hero’s name. They ‘tagged’ another student to take the next turn. At the end of this part of the lesson, we had three sorting boxes, one for each hero, filled with characteristics.
The next part of the lesson repeated the procedure, in small-group mode. Each student wrote the name of their own designated hero in the sorting box. Teacher not required – good.
Why did this lesson work well? We had invested well in the terms or characteristics. We had given ourselves time to brainstorm the list. They had remained visible in the classroom on a large poster. We had discussed their meanings at length. Having three sorting boxes on the page enabled us to compare heroes and their characteristics and draw conclusions about types of heroes. Students were confident to have a go, particularly as there was no one correct answer. The oral language kept on rolling throughout the lessson as students justified their choices. The ‘tag’ system worked well to put the lesson more in the hands of the students, to keep a fast pace and enable students to move around the room. The ‘tag’ system also enables students to have a go when they are ready with an answer. Good thinking is usually done when you are part of the audience, not when you are right up next to the board.
The small-group part of the session worked well with a high level of engagement and discussion. One student always took the role of teacher to control turn-taking and smooth operation of the Smartboard.
Another indicator of the success of the lesson was its usefulness for the next part of our inquiry. The students had to present a talk to the class to convince them that their hero was a worthy choice. They prepared a Wordle poster using the characteristics they had identified, then explained and justified their poster. The previous Smartboard lesson had enabled the students to deepen their understanding and practice explanation of the characteristics.
Infinite cloning and sorting boxes were an effective combination together