Advantages of using the interactive whiteboard (IWB) in the classroom

Reflecting on the article ‘Reviewing the literature on interactive whiteboards’ by Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G., & Miller, D., 2007), it appears that the advantages of using the IWB outweigh the disadvantages.

It seems the most important aspect of using an interactive whiteboard (IWB) as classroom tool for learning is its function that enables teachers to model abstract ideas and concepts in new ways so that students can  activities and deepen their understanding (Edwards et al., 2002; Richardson, 2002; Miller, 2003 as cited in Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G., & Miller, D., 2007).

Its multimodal functionality includes written text, pictures, video, sound, diagrams and online websites, which appeals to a wide range of learning styles Higgins, et al., 2007, p.215). The fact that students can interact with the content, through activities such as ‘drag and drop’ and sorting activities means students are actively engaged in their learning, rather than being a passive recipient of information.

Research (Bleedland, 2002 as cited in Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G., & Miller, D., 2007) indicates that using the IWB results in higher student motivation, resulting in improved engagement and behaviour (p.216). These are critical factors that impact on student learning, and suggest that when used interactively, the IWB is a effective technological tool to enhance student learning.

Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G., & Miller, D. (2007). Reviewing the literature on interactive whiteboards. Learning, Media and technology, 32(3), pp.213-22



Toontastic encourages students to tell a story using a scaffold for sequencing a story; setup, conflict, challenge, climax and resolution. This app is engaging and easy to navigate and supports students’ meaning making by having them develop oral storytelling skills to support literacy learning.

A large amount of scaffolding is inherent in this application, ie. The characters are already appropriate to the setting. One could then discuss what characteristics make them specific to the setting.

We would recommend after students have played and explored the app, students work in groups to write a script before creating their final story, to encourage turn taking and ensure that the story sequence is logical.

Key ideas from: iPads and Kindergarten: students’ literacy development, Matthew Jones

  • Schools need to embrace new technologies, such as iPads, and use this resource to enhance meaning making in early childhood literacy
  • Incorporates ‘child initiated play’ into literacy learning
  • Effective alternative to text based literacy learning practices, specifically in contexts of low SES and high ESL student
  • Oral language is critical and will have an impact on reading comprehension
  • Young children have an invisible backpack filled with a wide range of multiliterate practices
  • Literacy development is a social and cultural practice
  • “Making texts talk means learning to speak a texts thematic patterns” [Lemke, 1989, cited in Jones, M. 2012, p.55] In other words, students learn about language structure by actively creating texts.
  • iPads provide explicit scaffolding
  • Increases engagement and motivation

Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN, 31(4), 31-40.

Educational Blogs

Kids with a View is a colourful blog presented by a Year 3 boys class at Point View School, Auckland, New Zealand. Updated regularly the class teacher, the blog shows a nice range of digital technologies being used to engage learning, such as Prezi presentations, YouTube videos, Google Drive Forms, photos and videos of classroom activities. The site has an active community, attracting lots of comments in interest on their posts. As well as comments, the site allows visitors to choose the reaction to the blog post e.g. ‘like’, ‘funny’,’ interesting’ or ‘cool’, adding a further interactive quality to the blog which students can easily engage. It also provides links to interactive games across all KLAs.

 Techie Kids | Inspiration, Imagination, Innovation!
This blog from “27 awesome, funny, amazing” Year 5 students in Michigan, USA at has a real focus on engaging the global community. Through functions on their blog such as world time, Google Earth and Translator, clustr maps and flag counters, the blog works to communicate with students all over the world to share and discuss similarities and differences between countries, life and learning experiences. A number of other interesting apps (snapguide, vimeo) are used to present ‘how to’ guides created by students, for students in a range of topics useful and interesting to children.

Using Digital & Media Technologies To Enhance Literacy Engagement

Barone and Wright (2008) explore the experiences of using new literacies at Nevada elementary school. Teacher and author, Todd Wright shares how he incorporates digital and media technology practices into everyday literacy activities to support student engagement and learning. He discovered that students come to appreciate computers as a learning tool, and they reaslised “…that there was more to a computer than games or chatting and gained practice in reading for a variety of purposes, such as interpreting the textual and visual elements in a document and knowing how to navigate and find information.” [Barone, D. & Wright, T. E., 2008]. The following activities are successful examples of embedding digital learning into classroom literacy practices:

  1.  Graphic Organisers
    Technology based graphic organisers are used to support students’ with engagement and comprehension of a text. Barone and Wright (2008) present three uses for graphic organisers, all used to achieve different purposes, depending on the focus of the lesson. For example, students use a timeline graphic organiser to scaffold their learning around sequencing events in a story. During reading, opportunities are provided for students to pause, discuss and add the information to their graphic organiser. Venn Diagrams can be used to flesh out character descriptions, and compare character traits, thus supporting deeper, more meaningful engagement with the text. Finally, Wright (2008) uses graphic organisers as a homework task, where students are asked to fill in the graphic organiser with information from a webpage. This develops students new skills across new literacies, such as “… using Internet links and graphics” (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008).
  2. Instant Messaging (IM)
    Wright (2008) uses IM in a “pair-share” (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008) format for students to share thoughts and ask questions to their peers. The use of instant IM during literacy instruction supports a dialogic pedagogy, where students can engage in substantive communication through online discussion. The significance of IM is that it supports deeper, meaningful engagement with the text (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008, as students are encouraged to share their own ideas and opinions when responding to a text, or other peer’s comments. Students are often familiar with IM through popular instant messenger applications  e.g. Facebook, MSN Chat, and the speed and fluency in which they engage with this on a social/personal level has obvious applications for academic engagement.
  3. Writing Fix
    This web-based program supports students develop successful writing traits, through interactive prompts. In the example of Barone and Wright (2008), Wright asks students to write a response to: “Have you or anyone you’ve known ever had an imaginary friend? Knowing that students need support with their writing, they access, which prompts them to consider their imaginary friend’s “color, size, and amazing features” (Barone, D., & Wright. T., 2008). This writing support enables students to independently complete a first draft. The website grants student a level of autonomy that allows them to successfully complete work, and enables the teacher to offer support to students who may need more direct scaffolding or instruction.

Barone, D., & Wright, T. E. (2008). Literacy instruction with digital and media technologies. The Reading Teacher, 62(4), 292-302

New Literacies

New Literacies

New literacies takes a socio-cultural approach to understanding literacy [Houtman, E., 2013]. As literacy is inextricably linked to identity and ideology, it cannot be separated from the values and beliefs we hold as a society. New literacies speaks to the shifting landscape of literacy, which is evolving to meet the new digitalised ‘way of being’ that is our reality in an increasingly technological society. New literacy is not ‘new’ as such, or separate from previous conceptions of literacy. Rather, it builds upon the conventions of previous literary conventions so that new meanings are contested and played out in creative and interesting ways [Jenkins 2006,  as cited in Houtman, E., 2013]. Meaning can be negotiated through online collaboration in the form of social media, blogs, twitter and platforms such as wikipedia. As Laskshear and Knobel (2012) explain:

“The end game remains more or less the same, but is now played under a new kind of ‘ethos’: by affiliates collaborating with each other in a shared mission.”

The pedagogical implications of new literacies, or “multiliteracies” [Houtman, E., 2013] suggests both teachers and students are provided more diverse ways of gaining and representing meaning. Learning in and through new literacies therefore works to support inclusion in the classroom, as conventional ways of being literate, which value the ability to read fluently and write neatly, are built upon through technologies that adapt to students’ diverse needs, interests, skills and knowledge. 


Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from Accessed March 20, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from Accessed March 20, 2014

Critical text users: Greenwashing and the media

The Media Show’s episode on Greenwashing satirically analyses at the branding techniques corporations use to appear environmentally responsible to their consumers.

The puppet characters encourage the audience to be skeptical of marketing strategies used by BP, which works to invoke positive emotions and environmentally friendly connotations associated with the colour green. This is achieved by showing ‘happy babies’ and ‘BP as brightly coloured’, without providing any factual information about BP’s commitment to environmentally responsible practices.

The technique, known as “greenwashing” is an important concept for teaching kids to be critical about the information they encounter on the internet and through media content. The teaching implications are that students need to be critical consumers of information and take on the text-analyst role to consider the underlying motivations within texts. Teaching students how to analyse multimodal texts helps students develop critical literacy skills and specifically ideas around authorial intent, which are vital to being successful text users.