I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a class in Tammie Seaholm’s Resource Room at ADM High School, where I got to see her make use of the MimioTeach interactive whiteboard for a guided discussion on a book that her students were reading.
The equipment present in Ms. Seaholm’s room included a MimioTeach interactive whiteboard device, a MimioView document camera, an older model mounted projector and ceiling-integrated speakers, a MacBook Air laptop, and a MacBook Pro laptop.
Today’s class was focused on topics relating to the students’ reading of the book Tentacles. MimioStudio – the software that accompanies the MimioTeach – was used in the form of an interactive presentation, much like a PowerPoint might be (with pre-filled content on most slides) but with the ability to write in student answers, brainstormed words, and so forth. The ability to work seamlessly with a whiteboard – as in the case of an early portion of the lesson where students were brainstorming words that came to mind when they thought of an element of the book – while also displaying images as part of a presentation lends strength to the continuity of the lesson. There is no shift in focus between a PowerPoint – which tends to draw an inordinate amount of attention – and the actual whiteboard, nor is there a disruption in switching between PowerPoint and another program for annotation or note-taking.
In one segment of the class, for instance, Ms. Seaholm asked students to consider what they think of when they think of Pirates. The next slide embodied the first response of most students, displaying a picture of characters from the movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean”. The next slide, however, displayed pictures of actual, modern-day pirates off the coast of Somalia. This led to a discussion of the type of pirates that were being portrayed in Tentacles, and Ms. Seaholm was able to write down some of the students thoughts along with the picture being displayed.
I am often excited by the subtle ways that technology can help to make lesson delivery a more seamless experience. In this case, Ms. Seaholm made use of MimioStudio slides as sort of a discussion skeleton, where there were written prompts and diverse resources (i.e., the images mentioned above) to support a discussion that is not wholly prescribed, and adaptable depending upon how the students engage the material. To me, this is a great strength of interactive whiteboard technology. A teacher can achieve the benefits of a digital presentation – multimedia resources, less time spent writing down questions and materials for display, and so forth – while also providing an adaptable lesson that can adapt to the direction that students’ take a discussion. On a related note, Ms. Seaholm’s computer connection to her projector is in the back of her classroom; use of the MimioTeach allows her to teach entirely from the front of the room while controlling the digital presentation component.
Thanks to Ms. Seaholm and her students for inviting me into their classroom!