Friday, April 4, 2014

Promethean Ponderings

Photo by kjarrett,
During the last few weeks in class, we've gotten the opportunity to play around with a Promethean board and the ActivInspire software that it uses. I had never used an interactive whiteboard in such depth before, so it was a great hands-on experience for me and my classmates. I took a short workshop on Promethean and ActivInspire last year, but there were so many people in attendance that there simply was no way to let everyone play around or make flipcharts to try out on the board.

 To get our feet wet with Promethean, we created our own flipchart (ActivInspire's version of a PowerPoint, in a way). Promethean is the physical interactive whiteboard part of the system, and ActivInspire is the software to create the flipcharts and activities that you display and interact with on the Promethean board. It was definitely a trial-and-error process when figuring out how to use ActiveInspire. I personally only watched a few tutorials, then went right to playing around with the tools and figuring out how I could manipulate the program to get what I wanted out of it (However, there are tons of tutorials and tips on Promethean's website especially for ActivInspire, called ActivTips).

Another resource that was available to my team and I was Promethean Planet. There are lesson plans, flipcharts, games, homework assignments, etc, etc, etc, and all for free. I found a lot of great examples of flipcharts and lessons that can be created or downloaded for the Promethean board and used in your classroom. Some of them are extremely well made, and I was very impressed by the creativity that people have used to make these resources!

Screenshot by Erin Mulder
Our flipchart was created for 6th grade and was centered around teaching how to write a summary and evaluating/creating story endings. When creating our own flipchart, I wish that my group had gotten more creative. We found several examples that we really liked and created a flipchart that I'm very proud of. However, I feel as though we could have made better use of the interactive whiteboard. The activities that we included were ones that could have been done on a whiteboard or PowerPoint. The one activity that I felt was unique to our presentation was our use of the ActivInspire clickers. We were able to add a survey/quiz element to our flipchart, and we had clickers that were synced to Promethean so that students could vote for the answer they thought was correct. It was really fun to see it in action and see how easy it was to use, especially since none of the other groups used the clickers in their flipcharts.

In my future classroom, I hope that I have the opportunity to use an interactive whiteboard. I know that most schools have some version of them (Promethean, SMART Boards, Mimeo, etc.) in classrooms, and I'm excited to learn about the possibilities of using interactive whiteboards. There is definitely a learning curve, with any technology, but I'm confident that I can get comfortable using interactive whiteboards and learn how to use them in more creative, productive ways. This project really let our class explore with ActivInspire and get a feel for how we can use flipcharts in our classes with Promethean!

If you'd like to download my team's flipchart for viewing in ActivInspire, click here!

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