"If a child can't learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach they way they learn."

 (Ignacio Estrada)

Student engagement must be our top priority in classrooms today. Gone are the days where you can continue to follow tried and tested lesson plans that you used five years ago.

Why,  you ask?  The content is the same.....but the students are learning in different ways.

Not surprising is it, given the amount of TV, video games and internet time the average student has access to. The reality is that students today have shorter attention spans, a higher expectation of instant gratification and an increased need for entertainment. We can bemoan this state of affairs all we like, but it won't change it. Instead, we need to embrace our learners and evolve our teaching techniques to enhance their learning experience.

There are a multitude of strategies and technologies we can use to improve student engagement. This article will focus on how to use the Interactive Whiteboard effectively to captivate students' attention, tap into multiple intelligences and increase student engagement in the learning process. Effective use of the Interactive Whiteboard can make a teacher's life much easier too!

1) Administrative tasks and the IWB: Using the IWB to mark the roll each morning can save time. We all know how precious time is, especially in the morning, whenresearch shows that the best learning occurs. This could be as simple as having students write their names on the board as they come in, or a basic roll marking resource can be created by adding student photographs, names or avatars to a page and having the students move their name onto specific part of the board. You can find some free pre-made resources like these that you only need to add names to here: http://exchange.smarttech.com/search.html?q=attendance

Roll marking resource by http://schools.interactivelessons.com.au/

2) The Power of Music and Video: There are some fantastic videos on YouTube and TeacherTube that are extremely useful to use in the classroom. Having students view video and songs on the IWB is a great way to tap into multiple intelligences. You can easily ensure that students don't see any inappropriate ads and surrounding video by converting a video to SafeShare: http://safeshare.tv/

3) Handwriting: Modelling correct letter formation is essential in the early years, and the IWB is a brilliant tool to use to do this. You can scan a page from a handwriting text and use it on the board, or create your own custom lesson. You can model the formation, and students can have a go on the board before writing in their books.

            Handwriting resource by http://schools.interactivelessons.com.au/

4) Scaffolding Perceptual to Figurative Counting: Kinesthetic and visual learners benefit greatly from using the IWB. Certain concepts, such as place value can be difficult to grasp, and there is a big jump from manipulating physical MABs to visualising them. Also, you may not have enough physical manipulatives available for each student to use. This is where you can utilise the IWB for group work. Visual representations of theMABs that can be moved provide an excellent scaffold for students between the perceptual and figurative counting stages.

                                                Place value resource by http://schools.interactivelessons.com.au/

5) Practice Makes Permanent: There are many skills that require lots and lots of practice! For example, learning your times tables. Use the IWB to make this practice FUN! There are numerous interactive games available on the internet, and you can create resources of your own on the IWB that turn a rote learning yawn-inspiring task into something your students will actually ask you to do! 

Researched and prepared by Susan Burke, director of Susan Burke Interactive Lessons Design http://schools.interactivelessons.com.au/ & http://interactivelessons.com.au/