Interactive Whiteboards are just glorified whiteboards, right? Wrong! Terry Freedman considers a few tools which make them great for assessing what pupils know.

After you’ve explored your interactive whiteboard (IWB) and experimented with some of its tools, you can start to think about how you might use it not just for showing kids stuff, but for checking how well they’ve grasped it. Here are 5 ideas to consider.

Taking a Test.
There are more enjoyable ways… Photo by Renato Ganoza

A simple but useful feature is the Reveal tool. Known as Screen Shade on SmartBoards and Revealer on Prometheans, this allows you to show one part of the screen at a time. Imagine having a blind pulled down over a window, and then raising it bit by bit to reveal the view, and you have the idea. So, you could ask the class questions and show the answers one by one, or you may choose to reveal more and more of a picture before someone in the class “gets it”.

A similar option is the spotlight. The whole of the screen can be blacked out apart from the spotlighted area. Again, you can use it either to reveal answers to questions, or to get the class to work out what the “missing” parts are, and what the whole thing looks like. Imagine, for instance, using the spotlight to reveal parts of a map in turn. How long will it be before someone recognises the country on the screen?

If you want to push the boat out a bit and impress the kids with your techno-wizardry, you can hide and reveal answers through the simple technique of layering. There are a few ways of doing this, but what it boils down to is writing or typing the answers (or whatever) on the page (which you will have to prepare in advance of the lesson of course), in white so that it doesn’t show up, and then reveal it by moving a box of a different colour behind it at the appropriate time. Have some fun trying out a few variations on this theme using a combination of the shape and layering options – that is, the options to send a shape that is “on top” of another one towards the back, or bring a shape that is “under” another one to the front.

A much easier version of this idea, which I discovered on Danny Nicholson’s excellent Whiteboard Blog, is to type a word on the screen and then cover it with a very thick pen-drawn line. When you wish to reveal the word, just erase the line – the typed word will not be affected by the eraser.

If you invest in a set of student response systems (aka “voting systems”), you can set class quizzes on the whiteboard to which pupils have to respond by selecting from a menu of possible answers. A really nice aspect of this approach is that if you make sure you know who has which handset you will be able to see how individual pupils have answered the questions.

It’s also a great way of checking that what the pupils have learnt is what you think you have actually taught them!

Bottom line: the IWB makes it possible to have a more enjoyable and immediate way of assessing pupils without always having to resort to generating tons of marking for yourself. Now that has to be good!

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