Interactive Whiteboards in Australia

News, ideas and discussion about interactive whiteboards in education

Posts Tagged ‘resources’

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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IWB resources for Australian teachers

Posted by rosiemacalpine on January 14, 2009

Promethean Planet have released a collection of resources (known as a theme) for Australia Day. It includes 30 flipcharts about Australia, eight resource packs, and quality web links with Australian topics for IWBs. The theme will be ‘live’ for about a month, but all the resources will remain on the Promethean website after the month in the Resources section.


If you don’t have Promethean software, you can download a Flipchart Viewer from the Promethean site that will let you view the flipcharts.

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Using virtual manipulatives on your whiteboard

Posted by rosiemacalpine on December 5, 2008

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a project of Utah State University. They provide free access to virtual versions of common maths manipulatives like MABs, fraction bars, geoboards and pattern blocks (to name just a few). The resources are well organised into strand and grade level.

There is also an option to buy a desktop version for those teachers who struggle with reliable internet access at school.

I really enjoy using these sort of resources because it enriches the hands on materials we already have, rather than replacing them.

The teacher can demonstrate the manipulatives at the board on a large scale (much easier than juggling MABs on your lap!)

Then children can take it in turns to work at the board in small groups, while the rest of the class use the physical manipulatives to work on the same tasks. Children can also showcase their work or findings to the whole class by replicating it on the board.

The screenshot below shows the geoboard manipulative. Each manipulative also has a few suggested activities for teachers.


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Using websites with an IWB: Part 1

Posted by rosiemacalpine on November 30, 2008

Using websites are a great way to get started for new interactive whiteboard users. Learning a new software package can be daunting for some teachers. Taking advantage of the great free content already available allows you to build confidence with some of the basic skills of using a board (plugging it in, turning it on, using the pen/ finger) while you get used to the software.

As teachers become more confident with the board, it’s common to use a mix of:

  • Your own whiteboard activities
  • Other people’s whiteboard activities
  • Websites

So the next question is: How do you access these websites?

The most common thing for teachers to do is to add their favourite websites to their favourites in Internet Explorer. The drawback with this method is that it isn’t very easy to organise them or find them later.


Some of the interactive whiteboard software have different ways of storing weblinks in the software. In Activstudio (the Promethean software), you can add weblinks as neat little thumbnails. To do this, use the web browser in Activstudio and then click on the link button next to the address. Choosing ‘Add URL as Thumbnail’ adds the neat snapshot.

From your page, you can drag them into your resource library. I’ve set up folders in My Collections for this.

If your school hosts the Shared Collections folder on their server, then you might want to add them to that instead. Then everyone will be able to access these links.

In the next post, I’ll discuss Delicious, which is a fantastic way of saving your favourites and which can be used with any interactive whiteboard.

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