Whiteboards at Your Service

from Technology & Learning

Interactive whiteboards can assist teachers, students, trainers, and district office personnel.

Whiteboard recorder software captures every step of students' work for later playback.

Interactive whiteboards have made quite a splash in classrooms in recent years. When a computer image is projected on the whiteboard using an LCD projector, users can directly control the computer from the whiteboard.

In some systems such as Smart and Mimio, you use your finger in place of a mouse to open and run programs or move windows around. In the Numonics system you use a multimedia pen directly on the board. You (or your students) can annotate the whiteboard with notes and drawings, save those files onto the computer, and then record a video of a sequence of events. Whatever you can do at a computer screen, you can do at an interactive whiteboard—and easily include large groups or the whole class in the process.

Here are several ideas for integrating whiteboards into the classroom.


Record a video of a sequence of events at the board. From there, short movies can be made easily.

  • Create short tutorials. Use the recording capability to produce sequential tutorials for students to play back or for those who missed class. This works well with skills-based "how to" activities.
  • Develop records of student work. As students come to the whiteboard to "show their work," you can use the whiteboard recorder software to capture every step as they demonstrate and explain their work. Share these recordings with parents at conferences, include them as part of the student's portfolio, or have the students review them for practice.
  • Record your own lessons to leave for substitute teachers when you are absent.

PowerPoint presentations take on new life when they're annotated.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers such as Inspiration can be projected for whole class viewing with an LCD projector (however, this method limits manipulation of the software to the person at the computer). An interactive whiteboard combines the best features of both. Create a graphic organizer template on the interactive whiteboard then have your students come to the board to enter information into the various sections of the graphic organizer. When done, save it on the computer, print it out for distribution, or make it available for downloading on your school or classroom Web site or blog.


Presentations using software such as PowerPoint or KeyNote take on new life when shown on an interactive whiteboard. You can dim screens to create a spotlight effect on a particular graphic you'd like to highlight. Or you can mark up a presentation as it runs—draw circles or arrows or use a highlighter for emphasis. Save the marked up notes on your computer to print out or share on a Web page.

Interactive Software

Create hands-on, interactive lessons where students can manipulate objects, make decisions, and enter data. Another idea is to place map pieces (say, states of the union, or countries of Europe) on the screen and have students drag and drop then to create the complete map (see http://teach.fcps.net/trt27/SocialStudies.htm for this one).

Google Earth

Combine an interactive whiteboard with cutting-edge software such as Google Earth to provide an unparalleled experience in geography. With Google Earth you can "fly" to any destination in the world; combine this with an interactive whiteboard to create tours worldwide.

  • The TICT Initiative (Technology Integration Collaborative Teachers) in Minnesota has used Google Earth with its interactive whiteboard to create birds-eye views of its school district, in addition to being able to mark-up the display with the board's writing tools.
  • Another example is Google Lit Trips, a Google Earth add-on that provides tours of great literary journeys, including those taken in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, Homer's The Odessey, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, and Virgil's The Aeneid. Each trip includes photographs, chapter-specific questions about the book, and links to Web sites about the author and the book. Using this resource with an interactive whiteboard, or having your students develop their own similar project, is another example of higher-order use.

Collaboration on complicated math problems becomes much easier to follow when done with a whiteboard.

Interactive Mathematics

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives (http://enlvm.usu.edu/ma/nav/index.jsp) is exactly as the name implies, a library of virtual, onscreen mathematics manipulatives for students of all grade levels. For example, "Count the Money" is a K–2 activity in which students count up coins and bills on the screen, moving them around, grouping them as needed. Done on an interactive whiteboard the activity becomes a more meaningful group exercise.

Smart Technologies also has a host of lessons, including a seventh-gradelevel example of the Pythagorean Theorem, where students solve puzzles in order to illustrate and verify the theorem.

Quizzes and Games

Some interactive whiteboard software can hide portions of the screen, to be revealed at your discretion (in the SmartBoard software it's called "screen shade"; in Mimio, "reveal"). Use this feature to create quizzes and games, with questions on the screen and answers hidden. Make the project into a quiz-show game, and include audio and video to add more of a multimedia element. For an entertaining animal-riddle game, created by elementary school students, go to http://technology.usd259.org/resources/cip/. A riddle game such as this promotes and reinforces authentic writing and elements of higher-order thinking.

Jeffrey Branzburg is a contributing editor and columnist for T&L.

Get Your Tips Published
Do you have some great integration tips on any school subject? Submit them to techlearning_editors@nbmedia.com for possible publication in T&L.

Lessons Learned

Manufacturers of interactive whiteboards frequently offer lessons and activities on their Web sites. A sampling of companies includes:


Interwrite Learning






Smart Technologies