One of my greatest memories from when I was a kid is that of my math teacher always having chalk all over her face or her clothes, and it would make me and my classmates laugh so hard, that the teacher kept on wondering what was going on. Now that I teach, it has become one of my greatest fears. Most of my clothes are black, and I spend my time making sure I do not have white chalk all over my black clothes.
Fortunately, soon every teacher will have the opportunity to work with an Interactive White Board (IWB) as an extension to a regular computer put in the classroom. At first I was like “Inte-What?”, and I still feel this way somehow, because I have not had the chance to use a IWB long enough to know how to use it effectively. However, by checking out different websites, such as one displaying a IWB demonstration, I soon realized that IWBs can be used like computers, but they do so much more… they really seem to be great tools to use in ESL classrooms, not for the reason that you do not have to use a chalk and worry about not getting it on your clothes mind you, but because it makes the learning process become more interactive.
Moreover, by checking out this site, I came to discover many ways to have students learn actively while manipulating the IWB. I would integrate IWBs in my classroom by doing activities such as brainstorming activities where students are asked to come in front of the class and to write their idea on the IWB, words and images mix and match, quizzes, games, reviews, fill in the blanks, surfing to get information on the net, modeling how to work with a webquest, etc. Furthermore, I would also use it to present the classroom rules and consequences to the students at the beginning of the year. A saved version of the rules list can be a good alternative to the rule poster. After a disruption, the saved file of the rules list can easily be found in order to explain which rule was broken and why was the consequence applied.
It would make my teaching better in many ways. First of all, several free activities can be found on the net. I think that the fact that they are there and available to use can be reassuring at first when you are not so confident with using the tool. Yet, when you are more confortable with your IWB, you use your creativity and create your own learning activities. Another reason why it would make my teaching better is that IWBs allow for time saving (you don’t have to re-write the same content multiple times on the board since everything can be saved and retrieved). Moreover, you can go and get examples from the net while, when you only have a blackboard and a chalk, you are limited to the imagination you have at the moment. Finally, your presentation can also be more attractive as you can use whichever colour, shapes, pictures, etc., you want.
When my daughter was 1 year old, she knew how to unlock my iphone, click on the picture icon and browse through my picutres. Now that she is 2 and a half, she can use my ipad better than I can. So yes, I believe that kids who are part of the Generation Z (or Millennial, whichever you prefer) are very confortable with technology, and we teachers should use this ability and interest that they have to make learning more interesting for them!