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Loving Your Interactive Whiteboard

By Christy Crawford on November 18, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

When was the last time you saw educators shove the competition out of the way as they dashed for their interactive whiteboards? When was the last time you saw them laugh and holler in excitement as they sharpened their whiteboard skills? Educators at your school will love their boards and become confident, tech-savvy teachers after you use these suggestions for interactive whiteboard games.



I've sat through fabulous interactive whiteboard trainings from various companies. I was an attentive listener and an active participant. (Yes, I was the guinea pig that scrambled to the board during trainings.) I took lots of notes. But when I got back to my whiteboard, I couldn't always duplicate what I had been taught. 

I needed lots of hands-on practice — repeated simulations with the teacher so that I could resolve problems as they occurred. If I had an IWB to take home, the problem would be solved. Week after week, I'd take the IWB home and work into the wee hours of the night until I mastered the new digital beast. But interactive whiteboards can't come home. They must be mastered during school hours. What's an educator to do . . . ?  Play! Play games! 

When Fortune 500 companies have a topic that requires substantive discourse or new software to be implemented, they use games to inspire passion in their employees. Digital maverick Marc Prensky says that games get us doing and learning; give us passion, involvement, structure, and motivation; produce flow, ego gratification, and adrenaline; spark creativity; and give us social groups, emotion, and pleasure.  

At the little public school where I teach, games have done all that Prensky promises. They can do the same for your school.  

PLANNING YOUR INTERACTIVE WHITEBOARD OLYMPICS                      IWB-Loving Kids Ready to Challenge Adults!



-Task Sheets

-Pens or Pencils


 -Cameras Make sure your memory card has lots of room and your batteries are charged.

-Feedback Forms Ask educators what they liked about the games; what they would change; and what they are interested in learning next time.

-Interactive Whiteboard Setup (including mounted projector plus laptop or a projector and laptop on a cart)

-Time Allow two hours for four to twelve people to receive direction, understand a quick demo, and play! A great principal understands the importance of professional development during school hours. He or she will grant you the time to improve your skills. 

-Eager Kids Ready to Challenge Adults   


 Two or Three Days Before the Event

1. Create your tasks. In what areas does your staff need help?  Start simple and work your way up to harder tasks that the staff will learn to conquer together. Write your tasks on chart paper so busy teams can easily review their assignment during the timed relays. Need suggestions? Check out the beginner tasks below.

Our Judge, The Honorable Kevin Won, Reviews Team Tasks.
Team Tasks

1. Write your name with the Creative Pen.
2. Draw a 3 X 2 array with Digital Ink and label it.
3. Clone your 3 X 2 array.
4. Rotate your 3 X 2 array into a 2 X 3 array and label it.
5. Capture your array using the camera icon.
6. Get a new page. Draw two PERFECTLY straight purple parallel lines.
IWB Olympics 7. Use the Window Shade Icon to hide one of your purple parallel lines.
8. Capture your work.
9. Make a PERFECT shape.  Write "perimeter" at the bottom of the shape.
10. Make another PERFECT shape.  Fill in the color PERFECTLY.  Write "area" at the bottom of the shape.


2. Get a list of participants and create your teams. I use teams with four to six people, so that each team is divided into pairs. Assign people to teams in a way that maximizes collaboration and diversity. Break up cliques. In the trenches, new friendships will form. Each pair will go through a relay, or a series of activities, using their IWB tool bar while the next pair waits its turn. When the second pair is done, all four sit. The fastest team earns bragging rights.

3. Provide cheesy names for your teams, e.g., "Team Speedy Learner" or "Team Quick Study." Assign a coach to each team. Have tech-savvy educators? Use them to coach nervous teammates during simulations. Do NOT permit coaches to touch the boards. They may talk participants through the exercises without touching the boards.

4. Assign judges. Do you have some really advanced IWB users? Use them to review IWB tasks in progress. Without eagle-eyed judges, competitive educators will do funny things. 


Loving The Interactive Whiteboard! The Day of Your Olympic Games 

1. Welcome participants. Explain the rules of your IWB relay. Expect resistance. (As an educator, you know that learning new things can be frightening for students of any age.)

2. Provide a slow, thorough demo of each task and allow participants to ask questions.  Permit interested parties to duplicate tasks at the board. Provide lines on your task sheets for participants to take notes. (If you offer prizes — no matter how small — you'll be surprised at how participants become vested in the game. Some P.S. 51 teams viciously competed for a $3.00 Dunkin' Donuts gift certificate! It is just human nature to be competitive.)    

3. Play! Run from board to board taking pictures as participants laugh, help each other through exercises, and talk smack to their opponents. Assist coaches and judges. Make sure coaches and judges are not coaxed into unethical decisions. KEEP TIME. You will need to record and announce the completion time for each team once they have returned to their seats.

4. Once all teams have completed the tasks, gather all participants at each board to discuss. Coaches or vocal team members will explain (or brag about) their work. Allow the teams to make comments or critiques. Lovingly scold cheaters or teams with incomplete work. 

5. Have teams return to their original seats.  Announce times. (Yes, lie if you need to save some egos.) Hand out prizes.  

Rick challenges the kids! Tie score? Invite competitive teams to repeat the task again —  against tech-savvy children.  Gather the rest of the participants to watch! Rick, a coach, completed the task in 1 minute, 55 seconds.  Four 3rd grade children collectively completed the tasks in 4 minutes, 39 seconds. Kids not only lighten the situation, but these digital natives usually show adults other ways to complete the electronic tasks.  

Allow time for any final statements from the teams (more talking smack, talk about their new found IWB prowess, etc.) 

6. Thank participants for playing. Provide feedback forms to see what you need to change or improve upon for your next set of IWB games. Almost all of the participants in my school's IWB games wanted even more time to practice. Many teachers didn't collect their prizes at the end of the event; they just wanted the opportunity to thoroughly develop their IWB skills before presenting lessons to students.  

Since our games, teachers have created numerous, fabulous whiteboard lessons for their classes and shared their impressive techie tricks with each other.  No one is fearful of the whiteboards now! Is your school up for an IWB challenge?  Tell us about your IWB skills and how much you love your boards. We'll post the best IWB tips on this Top Teaching blog.




Comments (8)

You are welcome. Thank you for visiting our blog as well!

This kind of professional development that engages teachers as professionals who can learn from playing is great.

Here is a model for helping capable people to understand the tools, then inviting them to combine what they learn with their expertise and experience to construct excellent, high-interest learning opportunities for their students.

The collegial and respectful atmosphere generated encourages participants to take risks and to share their triumphs and difficulties with each other.

Let's commit ourselves to replace all of the "training" with true teacher education like this!


Thanks for the resources!

Here is a link to free SMART board training videos that I hope can help as well:



It is a gift to work with professionals like you. I'm lucky to have a few really talented people who take the time to show me the hot new gadgets, apps and techniques. Thank you for making BXNS an excellent place to learn and teach.


The interactive white board training was fantastic Christy! I think it was some of the best PD I've ever been involved in. Most importantly it helped me to review and refresh my skills.

Lastly it was some serious FUN.


Start lobbying NOW for school time to practice, practice, practice your IWB skills. The games gave us a chance to scream laughing while learning. Hello-- I have NEVER done that in a P.D.!

I'm sure you will have a great time and will become queen of the IWB.


We are getting smart boards in January at my school. We SO need to hold our own Olympics when we get them! It will be the only way I learn how to it!

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