Interactive Whiteboards in Australia

News, ideas and discussion about interactive whiteboards in education

Archive for March, 2009

Using timers on the IWB

Posted by rosiemacalpine on March 30, 2009

When I used an IWB in a classroom with young children, an onscreen timer was one of the tools that I used several times a day on the board. I noticed a rapid improvement in their ability to monitor their own work pace and ability to complete tasks within a given time frame. I used the timer for the following tasks:

  • Silent think time about your story before you share your idea with your partner: 30 seconds
  • Finish your writing before recess: 20 minutes
  • Time on a learning station before your group rotates to the next station: 10 minutes
  • Time to read your book silently before you finish your spelling: 5 minutes

In this post, I will showcase some of the timers included in the Promethean software in addition to timers available on the internet (for all IWBs). I have restricted the choice to timers that you can set at the board (no keyboard required – with one exception).

1. Timers in Activstudio V3

Clock/ countdown timer


You can access this timer by adding the clock to your Toolbox, clicking on the icon and choosing countdown. You can choose from several different sounds or even add your own. You can also set actions to occur at the end of the time e.g. turn the page, take a snapshot of the page.


Resource library timers (Flash)

You can find these timers in Shared ACTivities> Gadgets and Widgets> Timers


My favourite is the candle which melts as the time ticks by.


2. Timers in ActivInspire

Clock/ countdown timer

You can access this timer from the Tools menu or by clicking on the hammer and spanner icon on the Toolbox.

I don’t think it’s quite as user friendly as the timer in Activstudio, as you have to open the clock then choose the countdown option. But the other features are the same.


Resource library timers

In addition to the timers in Activstudio (which you still have access to), this timer has also been added to Inspire in Lesson Building Tools> Gadgets


This is a nice simple flash based timer but doesn’t have any sound attached. It is available in a few different colours.


3. Online timers.

There is a huge number of online stopwatches and countdown clocks, but the majority of them require you to use a keyboard to enter the time at the board. You could use the onscreen keyboard, but I prefer to skip this step if I can. Here are three keyboard-less stop clocks (and one notable exception).


This is a full screen stopwatch with large buttons which is easy to set at the board. A timer sounds when the timer is completed.


This stop clock is from the same source as the counter above but uses a nice sand timer as a display rather than numbers.

In addition to an alarm, the full screen picture flashes red when the time has finished, making it suitable for hearing impaired children.


This is a simple javascript timer which is also easy to set on the board.

This is the only timer I used that requires a keyboard to set the time. The great thing about this timer is that you can set the time directly into the web browser. Simply type  and then type a time after the slash – 4 days, or 3 hours, or 20 minutes etc. I mostly use this to monitor my own work. The remaining time is displayed in hours, minutes and seconds.



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Online IWB

Posted by rosiemacalpine on March 16, 2009

Skrbl is an online IWB with simple writing and drawing features but very interesting collaboration possibilities.


You can type, draw or write freehand, and use straight lines and shapes in your drawings.

The most interesting thing about skrbl is the ability to share your work with other people. The paid version ($10 a month) includes video conferencing and all sorts of interesting things. But it would be easy to get started with the free version. How about using it to play a game with another class in the school (such as guess my number, 20 questions (If the teachers also used their mobile, this could be very effective!) Or you might want to collaborate with another class to brainstorm a solution to a problem e.g. “how can we reduce the amount of rubbish in the school?” The Year 2 class could use red ink, while Year 5 use blue to differentiate the ideas.

You could also use the board for collaborating with schools in other parts of the country, or the world! Using MSN or Skype in another window could help co-ordinate turn taking etc. A question like “Describe your town” with categories such as shops, parks, people, favourite things etc. could be very interesting for both classes.

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Ripping images from Google to use in flipcharts

Posted by rosiemacalpine on March 10, 2009

Before discovering Dear Computer, Google Images was my main source of images for flipcharts. Particularly since I discovered that you can search by size, type (e.g. line drawings, photos) or colour. Here’s a previous post about these features.

Since I’ve found the advantages of Dear Computer, this has become my first stop for images. You can narrow a search in the same way as you can using Google Images, (as it is still using Google to look for the images) but Dear Computer saves you two clicks for every image you see. That might not sound like much, but it’s easy to browse through multiple images for a flipchart before you find what you are looking for.

Here’s the results of a Google Image search for simple machines:


If I want to look at the third thumbnail along, I click on it to go to the page with the image. Then I need to click the link at the top of the page to see the full sized image.

Searching for Simple Machines in Dear Computer puts all the images in their full size on the page.


Then I can just use the camera tool to grab the images that I would like, or right-click> copy then paste them on my flipchart page.

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Splicd – how to chop YouTube videos to a single segment

Posted by rosiemacalpine on March 3, 2009

Splicd is a website that allows you to view any YouTube video on your IWB, but overcomes three common problems with using YouTube in the classroom:

1. YouTube is blocked on some school systems

2. You may just want to show a portion of a video and it’s difficult to get to the right point.

3. The video you’ve chosen is appropriate for the classroom, but user comments or related videos (displayed on the page) are not.

Splicd lets you paste the URL of a YouTube video, and then choose the start and end point. You can then link directly to that video (or download it with RealPlayer see a previous post on this) and watch only the segment you want. There are a few ads but I haven’t seen any that are inappropriate.

Here’s an example of how you might use the service. You would like to show a section of ‘The Godfather’ which includes a traditional Roman Catholic christening. Unfortunately, the YouTube clip also shows the planning of a mob murder! Here’s the clip on YouTube:

And here’s the clip on Splicd, only showing the clip from 1:50 to 2:18 (sans mob murder)

EDIT: unfortunately, embedding the clip in my blog means that it keeps playing after 2.18. It won’t do this when you use it within Splicd.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

You can still view the entire clip by linking from Splicd, so it’s not safe for students to use unsupervised. But it’s a useful workaround for using YouTube with the whole class.

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