The challenge in every classroom is to keep each student moving steadily toward proficiency in his or her learning. We have all witnessed how personalized learning—with the teacher, alone, or in small groups—can meet this challenge, but I think we can also agree that some learning is best accomplished with everyone working together.
To meet certain needs that every child has—the needs for relationship, community, competence, autonomy, and let’s not forget play—we have to create the whole-class experience. Whether in elementary school or high school, it is in the whole-class setting where each student learns by analyzing and constructing knowledge, as well as by listening and remembering, in ways that are personally significant and gratifying. It’s important to note that in the whole-class environment, a student further develops and hones academic skills like observation, listening, memory, analysis, and reflection, as well as social skills like self-awareness, self-regulation, self-expression, and leadership.
But I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Whole-class learning is a key aspect in our modern classrooms. It’s a terrific tool for introducing new concepts to the entire class, or for reviewing material that most of the students find difficult. Many students grasp new ideas more quickly through whole-class instruction—especially if the material is interactive and engaging. It is a great first step in the learning process, before collaboration or team learning begins.
Adding Technology Into the Equation
To facilitate whole-class learning, personalized classrooms need the proper educational technologies, such as the MimioTeach portable interactive whiteboard. Mike McGuire, a fifth-grade teacher at Granby Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, can attest to that. Several years ago, Mike had no idea how he and his classroom were about to be transformed when he was given his MimioTeach interactive classroom solution. Before that, he had four older computer models in the classroom and was admittedly not very tech-savvy. But that was then.
Today, McGuire’s classroom is a technology port that includes his laptop computer and two MimioTeach units with the MimioStudio software—one bar is installed on a large whiteboard at the front of the classroom, and a second is connected to a whiteboard that rotates on a table situated on a desk in the back of the room. He also has a MimioView document camera, the MimioPad wireless tablet, the MimioVote assessment system, and the MimioCapture ink recorder. His students sit together in groups of six at whiteboards turned into desktops. Each group also shares a 32” computer monitor so that they can work more effectively.
“Using the MimioTeach forces me to always ask myself, ‘What’s the best way to teach this? How can I get the students involved?’”
As Mike said, “I didn’t know what I was missing, but now I can’t imagine what teaching would be like minus Mimio.” Mike’s addition of educational technology in his classroom has made all the difference in his teaching, learning, and achievement gains. He reports that the Mimio solutions have played an important role in driving student inquiry, discovery, and learning. “Using the MimioTeach forces me to always ask myself, ‘What’s the best way to teach this? How can I get the students involved?’” he said, “I’m constantly thinking through these effective teaching aspects ahead of time.”
Technology in education makes whole-class learning more engaging, and the classroom software allows educators to create more dynamic lessons by including video and animations—all of which create a more interactive experience.
Alternative Solutions for Classrooms on a Budget
Not every school has the budget or resources to install interactive whiteboards in every room, but there are alternatives. Here are some great options for adding interactivity on a budget:
- Portable IWB: The MimioTeach portable interactive whiteboard is a simple bar that works with the class computer and projector to create an interactive whiteboard on almost any flat white surface. The advantage of a device like this is that it can be moved from classroom to classroom and “reinstalled” in under a minute. The other advantage is the price tag—a device like this costs about a third of a traditional IWB. Plus, the unit can be easily installed by teachers or tech personnel at the school, eliminating the need for outside resources and other costs generally associated with installation.
- Wii as an IWB: Did you know that you can use a Wii remote to create an IWB? If you’re fairly tech-savvy, you can take advantage of the technology built into these low-cost remotes to bring interactivity into your classroom. It takes some effort, but these simple, step-by-step directions from The Techy Coach Blog can get you up and running with just a computer, projector, Wii remote, and infrared pen.
- USB Motion Tracking Devices: With the addition of a tiny USB device, such as Leap Motion, users can control a computer with simple gestures. The device commands the surrounding air space, detecting movements and gestures such as point, wave, reach, and grab.
Interactive technology is a wonderful addition to the classroom, and these alternatives are great options for educators who want to incorporate interactivity at a lower cost. Even among the more traditional solutions—such as LED displays and interactive projectors—you can find the right options to suit your budget and needs. One thing to consider is what you aren’t getting with handmade options: software. MimioTeach includes the powerful MimioStudio collaboration and classroom assessment software, which allows you to create interactive lessons in minutes.
Want to try out some of these technologies? We are currently running a “MimioTeach for Your Time” promotion, which offers a FREE MimioTeach portable interactive whiteboard—complete with our MimioStudio software—upon completion of a one-hour demonstration.* Visit our promo page for more information!* The one-hour demo must be attended by a school administrator, principal, or other decision-level personnel, and is only available for schools and districts that do not currently have a Mimio product installed.