jeudi 29 mai 2008

Present continuous with Seurat

Here is how Seurat's La Grand Jatte has been used to teach present continuous to children.

Children prepared the interview divided into cooperative groups: now we are going to record their questions and answers in English so characters will be able to speak :-)

The articles are not ready yet, but they are just few sentences made by putting together the answers using the third person.

For the last picture I used the IWB's software, just to have fun...Children enjoyed it a lot.


mercredi 28 mai 2008

Hello everyone!

When I first got my whiteboard I also used it for writing only, like most people do, I think.

I still use it for writing and I think it is really good to be able to show different points in different colours.

In German, which I also teach there are male, female, and neutral words. In our books they are shown in different colours - blue, red and green and now I can use the same colours on the whiteboard.

The novelty of being able to write in different colours has made my pupils a lot more eager to come to the whiteboard to write. Before this they were always afraid of making mistakes on the blackboard. Now they know that it doesn't matter - they can take it away in a fun way.

Like Phil I also use my whiteboard to watch films, and sometimes comment and write but I also use iTunes and show my pupils SKY News Active Seven Days and then write comments, words or questions to help the pupils talk or write about the news.

I'll tell you some more ways that I use the board later.


We have just been provided with an EWB (Interwrite) in our school. I have not used it yet and I would like to start as soon as possible.

Because of the examinations, the classes will stop next week, so I hope I will be able to use it next September. What would you advise me to do for a start?

I am an English teacher, my students are 15-19 , and I work in a Lycée in Paris.
Thanks for your advice!


mardi 27 mai 2008

Hello from Portugal

My school is near Lisbon with 650 pupils and belongs to "Agrupamento Escolas da Pontinha".
I teach ITC (Coord.) and Science.My students are 10-16 years old.
I have been using Interwrite at school.
I'm looking to known more activities with whiteboards and I hope to share some ideas too.

Hi everyone!

Thanks to Phil's invitation, I can write in this blog and start working with you.
As I have already told you, I teach English in a Primary School and I have children from 6 to 10-11. I knew the interactive whiteboard thanks to my second Comenius project, when I went to a project meeting in a Primary School in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and I saw all the classrooms provided of interactive whiteboards. When the Headmaster of that school came and visit my school, we asked the local distributor to lend us a, IWB for a demonstration at school and we invited all the teachers and the office staff. The teachers were not so enthusiastic of that new tool, maybe because the headmaster showed only softwares, but I remember that my mind was going beyond the softwares and was already creating learning objects for my children. I was asked to gain expertise of it and I did it with much pleasure.
How do I use it? At the very beginning I decided to use it sometimes to add more fun and interest into lessons, but then I found it so useful that I decided to use it normally in my lessons. I use it a lot with storytelling, preparing stories which are told, acted and practised in an interactive way, but I like also creating CLIL lessons: Science or Art through English, for example.
My Smartboard is being used in a lot of ways: a shared place to create meanings, a normal whiteboard to write on , a big screen to watch films and cartoons, a "window over the world" when we do research on the Internet, but it never alone, as it normally used with the normal school tools, exercise-books, sheets and pens. When I work on stories, children work at the same time with the same pages printed from the IWB, while, in turns, they come to the board to do what they are asked. They love it and I must admit that since I have had it, I have solved many discipline problems and I have more attention and concentration.
Now I am working with cooperative learning and I have a new challenge: how can the IWB be used in a more cooperative way?
I am looking forward to knowing your experience and materials, I am sure I have plenty of new things to know.
I'll try to include my works in the blog, hope they are not too heavy! Maybe the idea of having a repository on line may help. Anyway, as we have different types of IWBs, we should share a way to see them all. I could transform my files in PPT ones, but there is not any interactivity in this way...What do you think about it?
Hope to hear from you soon.

samedi 24 mai 2008

Working with films and images

I thought I'd start off discussion of EWB methods by telling about a few classes I've led recently based on films and still pictures. I'll try to explain what I see as advantages or drawbacks compared to more time-honoured methods of integrating film and images into the language classroom, and list specific details of my EWB, the E-Beam, that I've found useful for these activities.

A) Using film extracts: We language teachers have been using extracts from feature films as supports for language learning for many years, since long before cool tools like videoprojectors came along. But it always annoyed me to show a film on a small TV screen in the corner of the room that a class of thirty-odd students could scarcely see, let alone read subtitles off of. Using a videoprojector (even without the EWB) has many advantages, from the size of the projected image (limited only by the size of your whiteboard and the luminosity of the classroom) to the ability with DVDs to select the target language both for the audio track and for the subtitles.

Question is, what specific advantages accrue when you include an EWB in the mix?
- You can pilot the video software, pause the film and so on, while standing in front of the class, instead of hunching down behind the computer.
- You can write directly over the video image, for example to draw arrows to various objects as a vocabulary lessons, to describe individual characters, or even to give them funny speech bubbles.
- You can switch back and forth between the film itself and a blank space where you can write student-generated commentary and explanations, or you can switch to any other computer application that might be useful at that moment: a powerpoint presentation, an Inspiration mindmap, a HotPot exercise, a webpage or whatever.
- You can have students come to the board and pilot the software or make annotations in the same way.
- If your EWB has a remote slate of some kind, you can pass it around the room for students to write directly on the board without taking the time to call somebody up.

In this example from a class where students watch an extract from the beginning of Carl Franklin's Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), I asked them to present the film, and noted down their sentences, with a few corrections here and there so they could note corrected sentences in their notebooks. If I hadn't been using an EWB, I would have had to erase each addition before switching back to the film, or else project the film onto a different surface than the classroom whiteboard, which isn't often possible. With the EWB I am able to switch back and forth at will between the two applications, or even write directly onto the paused film image, as I did several times.

This second example shows a sample grammar lesson, which was actually a continuation of something we'd been working on previously concerning frog extinction. If you enlarge the screenshot, you can see along the left side how we developed this grammar point ("want to do" vs "want sb to do") based on sentences the students made up from the film extract.

In this third example, from a different class, we were expanding on previous lessons about describing people and about expressions of hypothesis. If you enlarge the image, you can see on the left several screens where students had asked questions about specific vocabulary words. The ability to organize multiple whiteboard screens is an important feature of the "E-Beam Interact" software from Luidia, and I imagine that other EWBs have similar functionality.

B) Using images: Like me, I'm sure you have spent years using the overhead projector to show images from transparencies. Photos, paintings and cartoons are great ways to get students talking in the target language without having to spend a lot of time pre-teaching vocabulary. The advantages to using a videoprojector with an EWB are the same as those mentioned above for working with film extracts. I would add that in many cases the pictures are clearer, easier to see, less expensive (compared to printing color transparencies on a deskjet) and you can easily zoom in on different parts of the picture to focus on specific elements.

In this example you can see me writing on a webpage that contains an image of a powerpoint presentation from a lesson on describing people that itself contains a commentary - how's that for reflexive framing? The E-Beam software has a special contextual toolbar for powerpoint presentations that allows you to record your annotations directly into the powerpoint file. I find that a powerful feature, though you do need to remember to save a non-annotated version before you start marking it up!
On a side note, in the above picture (taken at the EduCorsica conference last month) I was writing on a wall that not only wasn't white, but was actually a rather dark shade of orange, and it hardly altered the picture quality at all. The versatility of the E-Beam is something that really surprised me.

I could show lots of examples of marking up pictures, but the important thing is what the EWB allows us to do so easily: comment directly on the image (or webpage, or other application page), save our comments, and switch from one page or app to the next at a click of the stylus, all while standing in front of the class, not crouching behind the computer somewhere in the back.

Please comment on these ideas, especially to point out specific differences of your different EWBs. I don't have a Smart, Promethean, Interwrite, Hitachi, 3M or other manufacturers' whiteboard in my classroom, so I've really no idea what cool tricks you can do with them. Please respond, and also learn how to post your own articles to this blog.

dimanche 18 mai 2008

Getting started on a collaborative project

This blog is intended as a place to discuss methods and projects using EWBs, or Electronic Whiteboards, TBIs or Tableaux Blancs Interactifs in French. The folks who responded on the E-Twinning forum are using a wide range of different EWBs, from Smart, to Interwrite, Hitachi, Promethean, or in my case E-Beam.

Regardless of which brand of EWB we're using, many of the techniques will be the same. The key functions of an EWB are to:
1) present information to a class, in the form of webpages, word files, hotpot exercises, powerpoint presentations, videos, images and so on, and
2) pilot the program from the whiteboard, using the stylus as a mouse, and
3) annotate projected materials by writing on top of them, filling out forms, taking notes on student production, and so on.

Of course there are many other things you can do with an EWB, some of them being specific to a specific manufacturer's EWB interface, and others being possible regardless of the specific interface you've got. I'll be presenting some of the activities I've used in the last 2-3 months that I've been using the E-Beam, and I hope that all of you will jump in and present some of the things you've been doing.

A few words about using a blog: I'll be adding your names as co-authors, which means that you'll be able to add content, pictures, videos and so on. One of the other members suggested setting up a shared google docs space to share worksheets, demos and other files, and that will be good too. Eventually, I expect we'll register this project with E-Twinning.

Just a short link to one of my earlier posts about EWBs, specifically the E-Beam.

This example was something I used in a separate E-Twinning project called "Saving Our Planet", and I'm sure I'll talk more about that soon. In the meantime, please respond to this message and introduce yourselves. Me, I've been teaching English in France for a little over 15 years, and doing project-based learning and web project for some ten years: a lot of WebQuests, as well as various international collaboration projects. We are going to have a very diverse group here, and I look forward to working with you.

Cheers, --- Phil