February 5th

The use of interactive board in ESL classrooms

Technology used in classrooms increase every year. A type of technology that is more and more present at every level of education is interactive white board. I’d like to share my findings and opinions about that.

As a future second language teacher, I have to ask myself if I should use this technology or not. In my opinion, every teacher that has access to this type of tool MUST take advantage of it.

First of all, interactive boards are equipped to make teaching easier and faster, and they can adapt to most of the teaching disciplines, from English to Chemistry.

Second of all, it does not only make life easier for teachers, but it also benefits a lot to the students. Dr Mary Ann Bell, in her article, explains that the overall concept of an interactive board is very appealing for the younger generation of students, from kindergarten to advanced studies. I could not agree more with her. Because they are born in an era of technology, it captivates them way more than a simple Power Point that teachers show sit at their desk. The interactive board is a tool that teachers use standing up, moving around the screen and gesticulating. Students follow what the teacher says and does much more than when they are listening to a traditional lecture. Younger children (as well as older ones) have fun doing activities on interactive boards.

I will explain some functions of the interactive boards in regards to the pedagogical aspect. I will focus on the Smart board, since its the one I used the most.

First, time management. There is a chronometer that you can put on your slides and use as you wish. Is is not only useful the teachers to manage their time, but also for students who have to complete a task in a given period of time. Having a chronometer on the board that rings when the time is up helps them manage their time and grabs their attention at the end of the task without the teacher having to say anything.

Second, as an ESL teacher, the Smart board has multiple tools that give dynamic to vocabulary learning of a second language.  One I find very interesting and fun is The Morning Calender. This tool is an interactive and colorful way of teaching vocabulary about basic calendar information,  weather, attendance, as well as number words and shape recognition.

Interactive boards are fantastic in classrooms, but, on the other hand, it all sounds like fun and games until you have to master the thing. Different brands of interactive boards can be simpler than others, but they can also be difficult to master for teachers. If teachers want to be efficient and competent whit interactive boards, they need practice. From my personal experience whit the Activboard and the Smart board, mastering the basics is easy, but more complex or advanced options may need hours to fully master. While doing an activity with your students, using interactive boards, teachers have to know what they are doing. This way, it goes fast and smoothly.

This is an example among others of what insufficient training can lead to.

I had a teacher in college that, at the beginning of the year, changed our local so that he could have access to an interactive board. We were all excited about discovering this new technology until he started using it. Most of the time he used it, it was a disaster. It was long and painful to watch as a student. Many times it took 15 minutes only to access the activity he wanted to correct. Or, in the middle of the correction, he changed pages and the answers he was writing were now somewhere else, lost in space.

This anecdote is an advice to anyone who wants to use this technology in classrooms. Please, practice, practice, practice, and test your material before the beginning of the class! You will avoid losing precious time and avoid laborious attempts in fixing your mistakes.

This small article, written by Professor Ashley Yarbrough, resumes in a clear way the general advantages and disadvantages of interactive white boards.

Anne-Marie Garneau-Beaudoin

Future ESL teacher


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