Innovation in education

Interactive whiteboard for primary classrooms


A pioneer in supplying interactive whiteboards, SMART Technologies Inc. describes how this tool can contribute to the primary classroom.

Magic in a Primary Classroom
By Nancy Knowlton, SMART Technologies Inc., Canada

There’s a certain buzz in a primary classroom – 20 or so little bodies bursting with energy, barely able to stay in their seats or sit still. Unbounded energy, an excitement for life and generally sunny dispositions greet primary teachers every day. Putting all of that energy to work on the task at hand and channelling it to focus on learning are the primary teacher’s challenge.

Certainly in the early years a primary teacher’s job starts with the most basic of behavioural challenges – getting the children to concentrate or at the very least not disturb others as they concentrate. Add an interactive whiteboard to a classroom and another element comes to life. Younger children are particularly keen to participate. They love to be chosen to go to the board to show what they know or perform a task.



 Photo courtesy of SMART Technologies Inc.


Early experiences

In the early- and mid-1990s when the interactive whiteboard was being introduced, primary teachers saw an immediate application. They had long been asking pupils to come to the front of the classroom to solve a problem on a chalk board or whiteboard. For those teachers wishing to bring the added dimension of technology to everyday teaching and learning, the interactive whiteboard was a comfortable extension of a tried-and-true teaching strategy.

Very quickly primary teachers became devoted users for several reasons:

  • They witnessed first hand the power of the interactive whiteboard to engage and motivate their students.
  • With a board mounted on the wall in their classrooms, primary teachers had access to the system in every class and were able to quickly develop their skills.
  • They saw the perfect match in the way that the board worked and the needs of their students.

Meeting special needs

Beyond the normal attention challenges in a primary classroom, teachers are faced with many types of special needs of primary students. Through the years we have seen how interactive whiteboards can meet the special needs of a large number of these children.

  • With no special tool to manipulate, children are able to use their fingers to control or write on the board. This simple aspect of the product has been cited many times over as one of the keys to its suitability in a primary classroom.
  • In some software applications, the toolbar may be moved from the top of the page to the bottom to allow even the shortest of students access to the menu commands.
  • Sometimes younger children have a challenge with the fine motor skills that are required to operate a mouse. With an interactive whiteboard they simply directly touch what they want.
  • With deaf children the teacher can stand beside the board and sign with no special tools in her hands. There is no picking up and putting down of a special tool to distract from the flow of the class.

A rewarding experience

Teachers have told us about their strategies for gaining co-operation and attention in class.

  • One child or a group of children can be responsible for the interactive whiteboard, getting it up and running and shutting it down each day.
  • If things are put away properly or everyone pays attention, the day might end with 20 minutes of some fun and educational games that can test students’ knowledge.

These simple things put fun into the learning experience and meet the needs of both teachers and students.

One of my favorite expressions is “A mind is like a parachute. It works best when it is open”. Igniting the will to learn in those open minds is the magic that primary teachers make every day.

For more information, contact:
Nancy Knowlton
Chief Executive Officer
SMART Technologies Inc.
Calgary, Canada

SMART Technologies Inc. is the supplier of the SMART Board™ interactive whiteboard.


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