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In the 21st century we are all about technology, and special ed should be no different. But, how are we using technology to really advance our student's proficiencies? Interactive whiteboards are something I see in almost every classroom, but many times they aren't interactive for the students in the way they are used. Find out some Dos and Don'ts to put your interactive whiteboard to the best use in this post and share strategies you have done with them in the comments! #interactivewhiteboards #smartboards #technologyinspecialed #specialeducationtech #interactivetools #interactivewhiteboardactivities #smartboardactivities

How to Use Interactive Whiteboards the Right Way in Special Ed

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In the 21st century we are all about technology, and special ed should be no different. But, how are we using technology to really advance our student's proficiencies? Interactive whiteboards are something I see in almost every classroom, but many times they aren't interactive for the students in the way they are used. Find out some Dos and Don'ts to put your interactive whiteboard to the best use in this post and share strategies you have done with them in the comments! #interactivewhiteboards #smartboards #technologyinspecialed #specialeducationtech #interactivetools #interactivewhiteboardactivities #smartboardactivities

Can we talk seriously about interactive whiteboards in the special education classroom?  I have a big love-hate relationship with them.

I soooo love their potential.  But I am so tired of seeing them used as giant TVs.  So often they aren’t used as interactive tools. Instead, they just play YouTube videos.  Videos are, by their nature, usually NOT interactive.

Can you tell this has been bothering me for a while?  I know how much everyone pines for an interactive whiteboard.  It is, after all, the 21st century and it certainly does seem like we should be moving toward using technology throughout the day.  But just showing a video on a whiteboard isn’t advancing us to the future. It’s bringing back the past with a bigger screen.

That’s not to say you can’t use it to show videos and that some videos are useful.  They are great for showing video modeling. But then we stop and have the student follow the model–not just watch it passively.

Let’s face it, most of our students are not passive learners.  Well, except for those video game and cartoon phrases you hear repeatedly, right?  But just watching a video in morning meeting of a song is not teaching them a concept.

So, today I’m talking about the Dos and Don’ts of interactive whiteboards in the special education classroom.  It’s based on what I often see when walking into classrooms and ways you can use them effectively with your students.

Interactive whiteboards are awesome tools to use in the special education classroom, if we use them effectively. I'm sharing some Do and Don'ts I've seen from classrooms and some suggestions of how you can use them effectively. #interactivewhiteboards #smartboards #technologyinspecialed #specialeducationtech #interactivetools #interactivewhiteboardactivities #smartboardactivities

Trust me, there are a whole lot of ways we can use them and they are dynamite tools to have in our arsenal.  And they have even more potential because our students are often so drawn to watch the screen. The key is to make it a learning activity, not just watching.

Do and Don’ts of Interactive Whiteboards in the Special Ed. Classroom

Don’t

1. Don’t just watch videos without engaging with the board

The whole point of the technology is for it to be interactive.  Passively watching a bunch of videos that no one expects you to engage with is not interactive.

2. Don’t use interactive activities above the level of most students.

I see this happen most frequently with morning meeting and calendar time. Only one student in the classroom might know the calendar well enough to put the right day and date in the right place so that student operates the whiteboard each day.  And the rest of the students watch but don’t really learn how to do it for themselves or even what it means.

3. Don’t lose time cueing your programs up. 

Instead, put this task into your zoning plan so the whiteboard is ready to go when your students get there. Remember that downtime is not your friend, and when students have to wait for you to get the software running, it’s downtime for them.

4. Don’t use programs only the teacher controls.

I see this one frequently when the whiteboard is used in situations like preschool classes.  If only the teacher is interacting with it, the interactivity is not really benefiting the student.

5. Don’t use the whiteboard just to fill time.

Make sure that your plans for your interactive whiteboard activities align with the goals for the students. Integrate them into your lesson plans.  Don’t just use them as time keepers or presentations.

DO

1. Do use manipulatives to augment interaction with the students.

The fact is that not every student can interact with the whiteboard at the same time.  And our students typically do best when they have something tangible to engage with during the activity.  So, even though you are using the whiteboard, have actual manipulatives, like visuals for songs or books, for the students to use.

Using the interactive whiteboard in a special education classroom and keeping everyone engaged can be a challenge. Adding in manipulatives for the students who aren't working the smart board is a good strategy to augment engagement in activities. For more Do and Don't strategies, check out this post. #interactivewhiteboards #smartboards #technologyinspecialed #specialeducationtech #interactivetools #interactivewhiteboardactivities #smartboardactivities

2. Do make videos of your own for video modeling.

Video modeling is an evidence-based practice. Interactive whiteboards can be a great way to present the video model to the whole class or just to one or a small group of students.  Let them watch it multiple times, rewind it and use it as they want. If you have a tablet hooked up to the whiteboard, you might consider giving a student access to it to control the video.  You can get tips on how to use video modeling here.

3. Do use it for interactive programs the students use. 

For instance, if you use Unique Learning System, present the lesson on the whiteboard.  If you use Teachtown, use it with the white board.  Use it to demonstrate lessons. Use it to present the model of the art project.

4. Do have multiple students interact with the board.

Interactive whiteboards are tough because only one person can touch them at a time.  So, in a group activity, plan out multiple “helper” opportunities for student to interact with it.  Set it up so that each student answers questions on it, makes choices on it, and / or writes on it to interact with it in some way.

5. Do use it to present group lessons in limited quantities.

They are great for brain breaks for 5 minutes or so of exercise and movement.  But use it sparingly this way or it becomes just like a TV. And if you do that, consider having students make choices on the board by touching a picture or word.  This makes it more interactive than passive.

Ideas to Try With Interactive Whiteboards 

 I love how this teacher shared the model of the finished product in art so that the students could all see it using her projector / smart board. So many times our advanced technology doesn't get used effectively in special ed. classrooms. Click through for some do and don't tips on using smart boards in your classroom! #interactivewhiteboards #smartboards #technologyinspecialed #specialeducationtech #interactivetools #interactivewhiteboardactivities #smartboardactivities

I am not the expert on interactive whiteboards and I haven’t spent a ton of time with them.  However, I recognize the potential they bring to the classroom if we use them well. Some strategies that I’ve seen that have worked well in special education classrooms include:

  • Using them to show the model art activity for the ​​​​student to follow

  • Demonstrating processes like math problems for the class
  • Presenting the Unique social studies or science lesson and then having the students follow with the activity for comprehension.

  • chevron-circle-rightUse them to present News2You lessons

  • chevron-circle-rightVideo modeling and then practicing or role playing the activity
  • chevron-circle-rightHaving students look up things online using the tablet or computer and sharing it with the class
  • chevron-circle-rightUse it as an interactive choice board for activities where students put their names or pictures on the activity of his/her choice
  • chevron-circle-rightPresent PowerPoint interactive social stories to the class (have students interact to change the slides / page, match picture to picture)
  • chevron-circle-rightUse books from Tarheel Reader to have students take turns reading from the projector.

Not all of those examples are interactive, but they do serve an interactive purpose within the classroom.  I know there must be lots of great ideas out there about how to use them effectively for instruction. Share them in the comments!!

Looking for visuals to supplement Your Whiteboard?

Click the images below to check them out in my store!

Morning Meeting Starter Kit Autism Classroom NewsMorning meeting should be just as engaging in middle and high school special education classrooms as it is in elementary and preschool classes. But finding age-appropriate activities can be tough for older students. This kit will get you started.Morning meeting songs and rhymes add on lincludes bingo, humpty dumpty and others all with visuals for choice boards and to use during the group.The Fall Morning Meeting Add-On Kit is a set of visuals and manipulatives for preschool and early elementary morning meetings for increasing communication and engagement during group.

Until next time,

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