Former investment banker turned teacher Narsh Srikanthapalan has been teaching gifted and talented pupils at Caludon Castle School in Coventry. He still spends a lot of time on spreadsheets but he also exploits all the facilities of interactive whiteboard software too, “We have Promethean interactive whiteboards and I like using the ActivInspire software. I probably use this more than other staff in the school.”
For a lesson on rotation he took the theme of Caludon Castle and the pupils made a drawbridge over a moat. They played with rotation and came to realise that if you put the centre of rotation in the wrong place, the drawbridge doesn’t just lift up, it twirls like a baton. So it was back to the drawing board and pupils had to find their own solutions.
Similarly he created a cops and robbers game, “I told them that I was PC Srikanthapalan and I was chasing a robber across a field. I had a green rectangle which represented the grass and as I started to ‘follow’ the robber the pupils realised that I could only move horizontally and vertically, not diagonally. The more able students started to ponder issues of programming here.”
He believes that pupils prefer teachers to use interactive whiteboards as it improves the presentation of lessons. Resources can be prepared in advance, are clear and easy to read, can be edited and look professional. He finds that some members of the class will ask to come up to the board to show what th y have done as they find it easier than using words to explain concepts and methods. This means that more able pupils can share their knowledge and ideas with others in the class in a very immediate visual way.
He thinks one of the hooks for teachers is that technology improves classroom management. Interactive whiteboard software has virtual versions of the tools pupils are using, such as compasses and protractors so a teacher can demonstrate how to use these instead of showing each individual pupil. The whiteboard also means a teacher can keep eye contact with the class instead of turning away to write on a board. This year Caludon Castle has introduced a computerised random name generator to choose who will answer questions. It has been very effective for keeping pupils attentive. Since no one knows who will be chosen, it stops pupils drifting off . Now pupils only put their hand up if they want to ask a question.