My friend, Karen Chichester, first turned me on to the possibilities of podcasts as professional development after reading her blogpost on the subject. I don’t have quite the commute as Karen, but I still manage to listen to a few podcasts each week. The very first podcast I subscribed to was the EdTech Classroom podcast which Karen co-hosts with Joe Wood and Burt Lo, two California educators.
Today, on a drive home from the airport, I listened to Season 2, Episode 10. One of the topics was interactive white boards (IWB), probably best known by the brand names SmartBoard or Promethean Board. Joe’s district is in the midst of an large IWB implementation. One facet of the implementation is ABUG or Active Board User Group. The goal of this group is to really dig in to the nuts and bolts of instruction using the technology. The have a rubric based on the mnemonic It’s Not About The Board in which each letter stands for a facet of instruction. This really spoke to me, so I listened to it again at home and took some notes*. (More or less direct quotes of Joe.)
Interactivity: “making sure the lessons are truly interactive, not teachers being ‘sage on the stage’ students are coming up to the board,”etc.
Nonlinguistic Representation: graphic organizers, multimedia graphics, and students are actually doing things with the graphics—sorting, organizing, etc.
Assessment: incorporating formative assessments into the lessons (e.g., through student response system AKA clickers) “targeting higher-order thinking skills, not just regurgitation of facts.”
Teaching Strategies: “looking at the board as a tool to take your teaching to the next level.”
Be Cognizant of Design: are the “cool things” you can do with the board (moving things around, etc.) really helping the student learning goal? (Burt noted: “It’s the teacher equivalent of students using all the sound effects and bullet noises in PowerPoint.”) Don’t be “stuck in the software.” If it’s appropriate for the lesson, then do it. Lesson design elements like “visually stimulating lessons that are truly multi-media” (i.e. incorporating web links, sounds, images); only present core content and use visual cues to highlight important information (key words, vocabulary); chunking content for appropriate pacing.
This podcast is timely for me for two reasons. Just last week I had a conversation with some colleagues as we were working on our Title I/school improvemnent plan, and in our dialogue about technology, I said “using the computer is not necessarily using technology.” This idea is something I have come to understand through conversations on Twitter through #edchat, but had a hard time explaining. The ABUG acronym does it quite nicely!
The second reason my ears perked up over this conversation is that over the next two years, every classroom in my district will have an IWB installed. Being the tech geek I am, I’m excited about it. But on a more important level, I really want to think deeply about how IWBs can impact the work I do with teachers to improve student reading and writing. One of the things I’m doing in the meantime is collecting sites and tagging them in diigo and delicious.
UPDATE 2-17-10: Thanks to Joe Wood for commenting and providing the url to the ABUG site, which I linked above.
[*I used the earbuds from my ipod shuffle and used the pause button–quite handy for note-taking!]