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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

Tell Us About Promethean Whiteboards

Are You Using Them? Are Teachers In Your School?

Last spring I gave a series  of talks on the West Coast, and in one school they were using Promethean Whiteboards. At the time I didn’t even know what they were. And in class the one we used was a bit glitchy. But since then I have heard or more and more schools which have them. Does yours? The whiteboard is like a regular blackboard but it is also set up so you can project images  from books or the web on it, and then work with the images — for example trace a route on a map, or blow up and image to look closely at a detail.
     There was something a bit strange about being in a school that had this new technology in many classrooms just as the lunchroom discussion was of all the pink slips going out to teachers. The budget crunch has only gotten worse since then, so perhaps the spread of technology has slowed. Though I’ve often heard that towns with no money for libraries  or salaries were  able to find funding for computers. How is it where you live?
    I am asking about this because Marina and I correcting pages of our book on the history of sugar. And I suddenly realized that teachers who have Whiteboards could make use of a whole level of our research that never made  it into the book. Images in the book are in black and white. But many of the same, or similar, images are available in glorious color on the web. I’m making a list of those links to go somewhere  — in the book, on a website. Just as I am compiling links to sound clips so people can hear sugar music. In other words — a book is that part of the research journey which is suited to print. But other stops along that journey may be more suited to classroom use on Whiteboards. I’d love to hear more about how teachers use them so that I/we/you can not only give them books to use but the whole spectrum of digital tools that we find as we do our original research.


  1. Dianne White says:

    Our school just installed promethean boards this week while we were out on Thanksgiving break. Other schools in our district have had them for some time. I expect we’ll be learning how to implement the features throughout the rest of this school year and into the next. I think there are an endless array of possibilities once we’ve have time to get acclimated. Previously we had “regular” white boards, with projectors hooked up to the computer, so we’ve had the ability to access the internet and project sites, images, etc. onto the board for several years now. As I understand it, the promethean board will give us access to capabilities that we haven’t had before.

  2. Monica Edinger says:

    I’ve had an interactive whiteboard (Smartboard) in my classroom for several years now and love it. I use it as virtual chartpaper — that is, instead of writing something on chartpaper (say modeling something or writing something with the class) I do it on the blog and on the whiteboard. Use it constantly to show web stuff, to annotate material, etc. Our math teachers use it a lot too.

  3. For me, the exciting potential for these smartboards is to give teachers materials we did not use in our books, so they can have both the book and the larger set of resources and tools we discovered along the way. The book remains a printed object — no need to a assume every student will have Kindle — but the multimedia experience the author had in creating it can be brought into the classroom.

  4. Monica Edinger says:

    I recommend thinking about putting the additional material on the web for teachers to use as they wish. Some may well use it on an interactive whiteboard and some may use it some other way. I wouldn’t overfocus on this particular tool. We’ve got them all over my school and some teachers use them and some don’t. They can be tetchy and so not for all. For many a projector and screen will work just as well since they aren’t really using the interactive aspect of the board.

  5. sure — as I wrote my own experience in California was a Whiteboard that sort of worked, but the larger point is that it is increasingly easy for the teacher to bring the web resources authors find into the classroom, so authors should give teachers easy access to those sites and links in conjunction with their books.

  6. Sarah Johnson says:

    My kids’ school (international school grades K-12) uses whiteboards like these. It is useful for kids who want to go through the lecture twice: they can go home and review everything the teacher wrote on the board. It is also good for when a student is sick.

    My kids really appreciate the teachers that use this technology to its fullest.

    Their school uses these boards with another online system and have prepared the students and teachers (in case the school needs to close for illness or weather) and plan to run classes at all levels online if necessary.

  7. think of how author visits by skype could feed into this — with the discussion as part of the lesson that could be viewed remotely or saved and reviewed again later