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Learning to use IWB tools for teaching: group work on inserting/deleting objects, pen features and tables

Uploaded by Julie Alexander, Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France)


This graduate class in education prepares learners for a teaching experience abroad. These pre-service French primary teachers will teach regular school subjects: English language, maths, geography etc. in English primary schools. This class is taught in English, but the focus is less on developing learners' language proficiency than on learning to teach other subjects to English learners. Here, one learner teacher who has already presented the demo IWB-based lesson she prepared to the class helps a group of classmates to learn how to do the same thing. We see her show how to insert images, draw lines, delete objects, use the magic pen and make tables, with increasing participation from the group as they gain confidence.


Target language: English

Resource language: English

Native language of learners: French

Age range: 18+

Language level: B2 - Upper Intermediate

Educational context: Higher Education

IWB Features: Ad Hoc Annotation, Content marking, Drag & drop, Hide & Reveal, Writing/pen tool (inc. handwriting recognition), Spotlight

Teaching methods: Groupwork at IWB

Language area: Listening, Speaking

IWB board used: SMART Board

Teacher comment

The teacher shouldn't be at the center of the class, as much as possible. The teacher must go back and leave the learners. I think it teaches them to be more in communication. You see, they're very close together, they communicate. Whereas with the normal board, the teacher is always a bit watching the learners, or trying to do something with the computer.  There's a real relationship with the learners here, the trainees. 

The strategy here is to act, to do things while you're talking. So you use the language, and then, you do things. So here the white board helps you because with it you can show things so there is no problem of translation because you can show things, you know? You don't have to translate and it's easy. You can show a picture, you don't have to translate, to use French. So this why it's quite handy. And then doing things is quite easy here, you use your fingers, you can do anything. Look at the learner, here, she's active.  She's active, she's doing things, she's talking at the same time.

This is very particular. This particular group is going to Liverpool to teach English learners in English. They're going to teach English learners in English - mathematics, PE, history, geography, in English. I'm trying to prepare them for this work placement. In England, a lot of classrooms are equipped with interactive whiteboards. So my objective is to teach them the strategy of teaching math, in English, but also to use the IWB, of course. Not just for language. They're going really to use it for their learners, for other subjects. These learners, I think it's going to be a music lesson, or a history lesson. There's a purpose. You don't learn a language just for the fun. You learn a language because you're going to need it. This gives more strength to the teaching. They ask the right questions. They're much more involved in their learning process.

And for the learners in the primary school, there's also another advantage with this whiteboard, is that you can touch with your finger, the things. You don't have to use the pencil. This is important because you can feel things. It's more sensual. You can feel, you can touch. When you learn how to write and to read, you know, you can feel the letters. It's much better than with a pencil, you know?

Learner comments

Interviewer: Can you think what's the best thing you've done with the IWB in this class so far? 

Learner: Being at the board today.  We are preparing a lesson for next Friday and today I was able to talk about the board and what I want to do on the board and touch it.

Other comments

In terms of language learning opportunities, this episode highlights a number of ways in which working in a group at the IWB can help learners to use the target language in context. First, if the software is set up in the target language, the learners receive input in a comprehensible, dynamic way which helps them not to switch to their shared first language. Second, since attention is focused on what is on the board, support for spontaneous speaking and understanding is provided and interaction is facilitated. In addition, as the episode progresses the learners gain confidence to participate by asking questions and trying out features until by the end all learners contribute together to develop the group's understanding. In this case, the content being learned is how to use the IWB for teaching, but we can easily imagine other language learning situations where learners can use the board in similar ways to collaborate on tasks unrelated to the IWB itself.

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About Us

iTILT is a European project on Interactive Technologies in Language Teaching which focuses on the use of interactive whiteboards in the communicative language classroom. If you have comments or questions about this project please contact us.