Although there has been a lot of discussion about the virtual whiteboard technology over the years, I have found that there are plenty of benefits to be had from just using a standard whiteboard and projector. One of the key advantages of using a standard whiteboard over an IWB is that you are obviously forced to use conventional whiteboard pens only. The IWB however, should not be used with conventional whiteboard pens because of the marks that will inevitably be left on the board even after wiping.
Why is this an advantage though? By using conventional whiteboard pens, it means that you can have up to five children at any one time come up to the whiteboard to work on an activity. As “interactive” as interactive whiteboards can be, they are limited to having just one user work on the board at any one time. This can lead some teachers using it as an “electronic chalk and talk” device, resulting in a more didactic teaching style.
Access to the projector and conventional whiteboard pens on the other hand, means that the children can come up to the whiteboard in groups. Each week for example, I run a times table competition with my 1st grade class. I project a grid made up of five columns, and in each column there are ten multiplication questions. I then select five children to participate, and they all have to come up to the whiteboard to answer the questions.
The activity can also easily be adapted to work as a maths relay, with children put into groups and new questions projected every 5-minutes. If there is one thing that I have learned about children over the years, it is that they love to compete with one another! Unfortunately, despite the many applications available for interactive whiteboards, this sort of classroom dynamic is not (yet) possible.