The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, When Using IWB

So this past 3 weeks, I have been “earning my way” to #ISTE11. “EduStranded” in St. Louis wiped out the stash I had for the trip.  So I reviewed 864 links and Promethean flipcharts in 3 weeks (I categorized them and write a description). Sounds easy but really wasn’t. I had to open each flipchart to view it, add in ADHD, 2 kids, teaching and coaching job, and you see why I finished at midnight the last day it was due. But that is not the point here, sorry, you know I digress.

So after hours and hours looking at these I would find myself either getting excited about some or very frusterated with others.  You hear over and over people arguing against or for IWB. Some of these flipcharts I would look at and this “Yep, that’s why people hate these” then others would cause me to think “What a wonderful student-centered lesson, this is why IWB are not bad.” So I have decided to put in my 2 cents on these flipcharts.

The Good:

  • Student centered: flipcharts where students create things
  • Story telling flipcharts that have animation that act out stories being read by the teacher (yes I understand people don’t like teacher centered but I think all teachers should do a read-aloud with elementary kids)
  • Flipcharts used a part of a learning center (make a set, choose correct path)
  • Self correcting so students know they are wrong and can now search for correct answer without teacher involvement.
  • Calendar Time flipcharts – yes more teacher centered BUT when I taught 1st grade this was really a time we bonded as a class, plus kids love to be in the spotlight to do their “job.” (BTW there are about 200 of these on Planet, so no need to make one.) 
  • Student games – not whole class competitions, but where 1 or 2 students play to advance after problem solving activity.
  • If it is to be used during a lecture, those only 4 slides long with videos and just pictures.
  • Templates for students to use for presenting. Sometimes little ones or non-techy kids need a place to start.
  • Short ones that are mostly used for a 3 minute formatitve assessment.

The Bad:

  • Flipchart = PowerPoint. Need I say more?
  • Pure lecture centered
  • Class competition games – games like that work OK for our honors classes, those kids love competition, but my kids really take failure/losing hard.
  • Covering 100 different topics in one flipchart just to make a cutesy theme. Keep one subject.
  • Pages are just math problems and maybe a picture.

The Ugly:

  • 30 slides of notes. If you have 30 slides of notes, your students hate you.
  • Games or interactives that have a buzzer when wrong. The entire class does not need to know a kid is incorrect.
  • Putting your name as a search word. That was just a peeve of mine and had to get it out there.
  • No pictures, just bullet points. zzzzzzz
  • No interactive anything, it is called an INTERACTIVE white board for a reason.

Ok so there that is my “How To Make a Flipchart Not Annoy Me” lesson. Really this is comes down to one thing – IWBs are a tool. Just like a pencil (remember that rant?), paper, text book, computer, whatever, if you use them for good, student learning will happen. If you use them incorrectly, then it is a waste of money.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Tim Cooper says:

    ” If you have 30 slides of notes, your students hate you.” — Truer words have not been spoken!

  2. Dorene Bates says:

    Love the blog. I agree with you, they are called “interactive” white boards for a reason!

  3. Lisa Mims says:

    How about using it as a projector screen and then saying, “See, I’m using technology!” That’s why I took a SMARTboard class!

  4. Mark says:

    With 31 students and limited time to deliver curriculum, I can’t have students constantly marching to the front of the room. If I had 15 kids or so, I would do just that! However, I get 100% interaction by using the Expression Remotes. I’m constantly using them ad hoc, self paced, race game, or teacher prepared one page at a time.

    I had 31 students keep them at the ready and in their desks for two years now. I have had only one go down (it was quickly replaced by Promethean). We have some teachers in our district who won’t use the remotes due to reasons such as “it takes too long to get them out of the case and distribute them” or “they never seem to work right.” Our students bring their own batteries. I’m always amazed at the excuses I hear (I’m a tech support person at our site).

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