Areas of literacy and a selection of activities

Student engagement, the digital whiteboard and early literacy

The digital whiteboard was novel and created enthusiasm for learning. Students commented that their “fingers were magic” and “the board made the lesson work easier.” Visual display in the form of diagrams, webs, and pictures, as well as use of colors and shapes to highlight text, prompted engagement.

Reviewing text to identify phonemes and graphemes in word study, reading aloud, and modeling reading and writing strategies were facilitated through use of the digital whiteboard, which made manipulation of text fun and engaging work. Such activities helped to create meaningful links from activity to application and from activity to other reading and writing tasks in literacy instruction.

When I touched the board and manipulated text while modeling writing and reading behaviors in shared reading and guided writing, my first-grade students were interested and contributed to the lesson. However, when students themselves manipulated text on the board, their enthusiasm increased, and they were immediately engaged in the lesson. This prompted me to use the board not only for whole-group lesson presentations but also for small-group and one-on-one instruction.

Students also were actively engaged in the preparation of slides with graphics and text to demonstrate their understanding of thematic material. These theme projects were shared with classmates and with parents. Students spoke about their slides while touching the board to move to other slides.

Students viewed work done on and with the digital whiteboard as being fun. At the same time, they saw it as another learning tool. They made suggestions as to how text could be created with the board. They also began to use accurate terminology to describe menu items and graphics tools. When the board was bumped and needed to be “realigned” in order to correctly respond to movement on its surface, they recognized this and described it in a manner that reflected their understanding about the use and care of this technology. Respect for the technology was evident, but students also recognized its limitations when they wished to perform functions the board was unable to perform, such as retrieve text they had not saved or recognize marks they placed on the board when the board was out of alignment.

The fun they had did not overpower their respect for the texts that were the result of their work with the board.