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Book Review – Developing Interactive Teaching and Learning Using the IWB

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Excellent Professional Development Resource for Interactive White Board Users

Book: Developing Interactive Teaching and Learning Using the IWB: a resource for teachers.
Hennessy, Warwick, Brown, Rawlins & Neale (2014). Open University Press.

The various chapters in this printed publication in combination with the references to relevant research and the variety of the well-documented, related online resources (classroom-based video clips, IWB files, descriptions of lesson phases, etc) – both in terms of school subjects and educational sectors, provide a most useful guide to exploring the key concepts and practices of classroom dialogue for a wide range of educational professionals and training settings.

Interactive-Teaching-IWB-Book-Cover

I used all of the main resources myself in 2014 while running a successful IWB professional development workshop on behalf of TELLConsult, the consultancy responsible for the train-the-trainer programme in the Polish/Turkish EU project ‘Tabula Alba‘ (2013-2015). I found that they reflect the authors’ recognition that practical and concrete materials are needed to support teachers in diverse educational settings to address the challenging issues involved in developing a (more) supportive climate for dialogue in their classrooms.

Overview

Before sharing my experiences, let me first briefly present the resource’s contents.

The printed version of this publication has three main parts (A-C):

Part A. THE TEACHER DEVELOPMENT RESOURCE consists of 2 chapters. The first is an introductory reading guide with information on how and by whom the book can be used. It has suggestions for differentiated paths through the contents of the resource thus catering for various levels of pre-knowledge of the key topic.

The 20-page second chapter ‘Stimuli for professional development’, introduces the key concepts and offers a series of activities including viewing illustrative classroom-based video clips, analysing dialogue transcripts and reflections on personal teaching practice and experiences to support the development of deeper understanding of dialogic teaching notions and the implications for teacher behaviour and materials design.

PART B. The READER includes the contributions by the practitioners Lloyd Brown, Diane Rawlins and Caroline Neale. Together with chapters by the editors the reader provides background readings that report in an accessible way on the research underpinning the resource and offering more in-depth illustrations from authentic classroom practice, along with the reflections upon them. Topics covered include: how to develop a supportive environment for classroom dialogue; developing a dialogic approach to interactive whiteboard use for specific topics such as Personal Safety and school subjects including History and English; supporting dialogue in groupwork; facilitate interactive learning using the Internet and by exploiting the interactive features of the IWB.

PART C. The RESOURCE BANK offers sample and template IWB activities, descriptions of classroom activities and actual teaching materials, such as specific flipcharts, associated with some case studies in the Reader.

In each of the components (A-C) of the publication references can be found to relevant research reviews and papers, items in the Cambridge large online collection of video clips and screenshots illustrating whole-class and small group dialogue. Also further resources are listed including web resources resulting from related other and previous projects including the Thinking Together project.

The APPENDICES offer both print and online documents covering topics including extracts of whole class dialogue, descriptions of relevant instances of observable teacher and student behaviours that characterize the dialogic classroom (Teacher strategies for supporting dialogue with the IWB and Dialogue Table) and other documents to support the development of interactive teaching and learning in class and the implementation process at school level (Teaching and Learning Policy guidance and proposed action plan)

Review – An Excellent Resource

After preparing and running an Interactive Whiteboard workshop for the Comenius Regio Project ‘Tabula Alba' I found that this publication with its online resources and well designed activities can well serve as inspiration for developing – and greatly facilitates running – a workshop for in-service teachers. To address the outcomes of my needs analysis for this particular course (crucial aspects of teacher behaviour & IWB file design for interactivity and collaborative learning), this resource greatly helped me to implement a week's programme with the following main themes: Dialogic teaching & learning, Collaborative learning and professional development. (See these blog posts for more info on the project and the workshop mentioned above.)

To introduce the topic of dialogue in the classroom I gratefully based part of my input and tasks on some of the activities and additional (online) materials described in the printed part of this resource book. They included activities to help raise teachers’ awareness of their own current use of talk in the classroom and support observation and analysis tasks of video registrations of authentic classroom practices to enhance understanding of the finesses of the theoretical concepts involved in dialogic teaching and learning.

To support activities targeted at developing subject-specific teaching materials, examples of how IWB features can help promote interactive learning and related sample flipcharts were demonstrated.

With the help of the Appendix documents Dialogue Table and Teacher strategies for supporting dialogue with the IWB, observation tools were developed to provide focus during video clip viewing activities and observations of the participants’ micro teaching sessions at the end of the week.

As to target groups: I am convinced that the publication – especially thanks to the carefully sequenced activity suggestions (Part A), and its accessible case descriptions, useful sample materials and online resources- can also be used effectively both in initial teacher education courses and for independent professional development activities by individual in-service teachers. There is however one caveat here. A prerequisite for meaningful processing and full exploitation of the various input materials is an English language CEFR level of  B2 for reading and listening & viewing skills. As international workshops tend to be heterogeneous in this respect, documents that are key to the effectiveness of particular activities need to be translated.

To conclude: the publication also appeals to me as it indeed turns out to be a resource book in the true sense of the word. Being the result of collaboration of academic researchers and practitioners, its quality design and development of related Open Educational Resources testify to the authors’ motivation and appropriate strategies to promote effective professional development, an approach that was also successfully taken in the EU project ‘iTILT’ on IWB use in the modern language classroom I was involved in.

The book is available for sale here on Amazon.com.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Book Review – Teaching and Learning With the iPad: 20 Days to Expert
My Favorite Education and Instructional Technology Books (What Are Yours?)
Sal Khan’s One World Schoolhouse – Powerful Ideas Persuasively Expressed

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