Ahh… the interactive whiteboard. Judging by the coverage this is getting at conferences and so on, I’d say it really represents the next frontier in language teaching. I still have yet to work with one seriously (the only time I’ve used one was at a demonstration) but I can see the advantages if used correctly. Teachers have told me “yeah, IWBs, great…but we have nothing to use with them, no activities, no material”. This is where someone like Daniel Martin comes in. He has written a book called Activities for Interactive Whiteboards. I grabbed a hold of him at the last TESOL Spain conference and asked him for half a dozen ideas for a newbie like me. Here they are…
1. Work with text. Type text, then select the virtual pen application and set the color to the same background color on the screen (typically white). Run the pen over the text, thus hiding it and giving the visual impression that nothing is there. Then select the virtual eraser and drag it over the hiding text thus revealing it. This is a very useful trick for fill in the gap activities, for instance.
2. Work with videos. Find a short video from a website, play it and, as you play it, annotate –or have a student do it- key vocabulary to be found in that footage around the edges. Then your students, in pairs, may tell each other what they just saw using the help provided by the annotations.
3. Record students’ work. Present some grammar and have your students write sentences on the board to exemplify the grammar points covered. Then print some handouts with the personalized sentences or post the file to your blog or website.
4. Work with pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. Google any concrete noun being dealt with in class that your students may not know (dome, frame, thorn, eyelash, etc.). Then have your students explain their meaning to you in English.
5. Work on writing. Keep a classroom blog and then encourage your students to submit their writing samples. This is a good opportunity for showing good examples of work (make annotations on the board as you display those samples and perhaps print some copies later as well). Give real purpose to writing assignments. That way they can be accessed and read not just by everyone else in the class but in fact by the whole world.
6. Have fun. Find language games online and use them in the classroom.
Daniel Martín is an English teacher, teacher trainer and author of the book Activities for Interactive Whiteboards, Helbling Languages.