the third rail

moving things forward

Is Tolerance a Bad Thing?

November 1, 2009 by seanwilliams · 3 Comments · teaching

We recently got Interactive White Boards (IWB’s) in my district and they are pretty nifty. They came complete with student response systems (SRS or clickers), distributed sound system,  and a document camera.  All in all pretty great.

After using the board for a couple of months this is what I have noticed so far:

~ I’m still doing most of the talking. Just like having the LCD projector hooked up to my computer and going through presentations with them or looking at web pages.

~ The kids like to drag words to sort them and do activities of that nature but it takes FOREVER!! I think they will get better/faster in time but it is killing my plans now.

~ The kids love to write on the board. Of course my students have always had markers in their desk to come up and write on the board before so this is nothing new.

~ They love using the “clickers” and it is a good informal polling of the students, how many “get it”  I really should save the results so I can find out which individuals answered what but I’m not there yet. The downside is only being able to use multiple choice questions at this point. Good for drills but not really higher level thinking. When my students are a little older or better at using the response pads that may change..we’ll see.

~ Students are already tuning out. It was shocking for me the first time a student asked “Do we have too (use the clickers)?” But I have been seeing it more often. As well as tuning out when we use the IWB. It is important to note that no matter what technology you have it will not replace classroom management and good, engaging teaching.

And that is my point. IWB’s are great in many ways and can be used in engaging ways. But then so can LCD projectors and hand held whiteboards. Or even construction paper.

My friend posted that she needed convincing that IWB’s were the panacea that they are being hyped as. I don’t think I can help that one as I still need to be convinced. What I am worried about is it is becoming increasingly difficult to engage students. Lighting up the whiteboard isn’t necessarily doing it. Nor clickers.

Tolerance -”a resistance to the effects of … after repeated exposure” Are the kids developing a tolerance to technology the way we are currently using it? Would it make more sense to back off spending money on technology purchases and spend it on developing teachers with solid skill sets THEN give them the tech tools? Or see what tools they want to use?

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Jackie

    I think you have nailed it on the head with kids getting accustomed to using technology the way we do… That’s the beauty of this software, though, it has unlimited abilities and does far more than sorting. The clickers also have 6 question types with m/c being only one type. You know they can text in answers, right? It does take A LOT of time to have kids come up to the board, but that was a management issue for me, not a tech issue. Creating higher level thinking is always in the hands of the teacher, no matter what technology is used or not used. I think some in our district were lead to think it would teach for you, and clearly that’s not the case. It comes with solid training and that is what is lacking. There isn’t a fool proof way to roll out these things, it just takes time. Eventually it makes life easier, but getting to that point isn’t an easy trek.

  • seanwilliams

    Thanks for the comments–always good to know somebody is reading my posts.
    I am trying to get into the software and figure out just what it can do but really haven’t put the time into it. I so know the response system has different options but most are variations on multiple choice. I almost tried a short text answer today but we had some difficulties with the flipchart that slowed us down.
    Creating higher level thinking is always up to the teacher, and many choose not to. I have not seen how using the IWB lends itself to higher level skills though, any more than an LCD projector and good questions. I am looking for it though!
    The point of training is essential and that was one of the reasons for this post. Not just in our district but across the country classrooms are getting IWB’s without “solid” training. I am just wondering if there is a better way of doing things.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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