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There’s no doubt about it, interactive flat panels (IFPs) are amazing tools for the classroom. But chances are you’re not even using yours to its fullest potential! That’s why we’ve gathered some of our all-time favorite ideas below for you to borrow, steal or reinvent.
1. Put a digital spin on bell work.
You can save loads of time by using your interactive flat panels for bell ringers. Instead of writing bell work on the board every day, Tina Baker, an eighth grade language arts and social studies teacher at William Lenoir Middle School in Lenoir, North Carolina, uses her BenQ RP702 interactive flat panel to motivate her students to start working as soon as class begins. Besides being a major time-saver, using your IFP also lets you incorporate other mediums into your bell work—try displaying a photo or playing a song or a short YouTube video and asking students to write a response.
2. Save time taking attendance.
Instead of calling the roll every day, let your students gain some independence by signing themselves into class using your IFP. They can drag and drop their names into the “present” column of a tablet, making it a fun morning routine for the kids and a big time-saver for you.
3. Get a handle on classroom behavior.
If you’re using a Web-based classroom-management system like ClassDojo, you can take it to the next level with your interactive flat panel. Baker displays ClassDojo on her screen during class activities or transitions. Kids love the instant gratification of hearing a “ping” and seeing their dojo points increase every time you award them.
4. Teach time management.
There are lots of ways to use timers with your IFP. You can use a website like Egg Timer Countdown to count down the time remaining in learning centers rotations. Download Cool Timer for multiple timing options including an alarm clock (never be late for gym class again!) and a stopwatch.
5. Say goodbye to the dreaded copy machine.
The lines, jams and wasted paper at the copy machine can be a welcome thing of the past. All your saved lesson materials can be accessed directly from your computer’s hard drive, Google Drive or Dropbox and displayed on your interactive flat panel. Beth Fox, a computer science teacher at William Lenoir Middle School, also takes notes during class using her BenQ RP702 interactive flat panel. She “freezes” the screen to access the notes later or email them to students when they’re absent. “It’s really eliminated the need for paper copies in class,” says Fox.
6. Make proofreading a whole-class activity.
Get your entire class involved in the editing process. Baker lets the students in her language arts classes use BenQ’s QWrite pens on the interactive flat panel to collaborate when making corrections to a writing assignment. The first student chooses a color to make the first round of edits. If other students want to make additional edits, they use different color pens.
7. Monitor noise level.
Have a chatty class this year? Your IFP can help with that dilemma too. Connect a microphone to your unit and use a website like Bouncy Balls to give kids a visual cue when their talking gets out of control—the balls will start bouncing like crazy! There is also an app called Too Noisy that has a meter that turns red when the class gets too loud.
8. Take a brain break.
Next time you’re giving your kids a brain break, try using your interactive flat panel. Go Noodle is a website with a ton of videos—on everything from relaxing yoga to energizing dances—you can play through your IFP.
9. Host a Google Hangout with another class.
Interactive flat panels are a cool way to let your class learn alongside students across town or on the other side of the world. Fox had a Google Hangout with another middle school class across town by connecting a laptop to her BenQ RP702 interactive flat panel. The classes could see and talk with each other on the 70-inch screen so they could collaborate on robotics code they were writing for a class project. More Google Hangout ideas include virtual author visits and “mystery hangouts” with a class in another state or country, where students take turns asking questions to guess the location of the other class.
10. Let your students be the teacher.
Kids love to “be in charge” of the classroom iPad during lessons. Baker uses her iPad’s AirPlay feature to wirelessly connect it to her BenQ interactive flat panel. Students get to take turns clicking through PowerPoint presentations or pressing Play on YouTube videos.
11. Play a video game.
It’s pretty much a fact that kids love Wii and Xbox, and believe it or not, some of their games are pretty educational. You can hook up a gaming console to your interactive flat panel and test your students’ problem-solving skills with games like Big Brain Academy Wii Degree.
12. Call on students randomly.
Use a tool like Random Name Picker with your IFP to make sure you don’t always call on the same kids to answer questions. This tool uses a virtual wheel (think: “Wheel of Fortune”) to select student names. You can also use it to make assigning jobs or choosing partners or groups for assignments fair game.
13. Include your interactive flat panel as a learning center.
Your IFP doesn’t need to sit idle when your kids are rotating through centers. Third grade teacher Felesha Stone from Tatum Elementary School in Tatum, Texas, likes to use her BenQ IL650 interactive flat panel as a math station. Kids can use websites like BrainPOP to solve problems or challenge one another in educational games in small groups. You can also use the interactive screen’s built-in features to take a picture of a screen that captures your students’ work so you can review it later.
14. Make test prep into a game show.
Test prep doesn’t have to be boring when you use your interactive flat panel. Baker uses her BenQ IFP to play review games like “Jeopardy!” You can either make your own game with PowerPoint or download a pre-made version for games like “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” or “Classroom Feud.”
15. Take a virtual field trip.
Field trips are amazing learning opportunities, but it takes a lot of work and money to make them happen. Plus if your classroom is in the United States, it’s probably not feasible to visit places like the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But if you have an interactive flat panel, you can make just about any trip a reality. The options are endless—from Colonial Williamsburg to the Smithsonian to a NASA space shuttle. Virtual trips can also be helpful to do before or after really visiting a local destination. Use your IFP to show kids videos of the destination as an introduction or wrap-up to your trip.
16. Create a cool new app.
If you’re a really tech-savvy teacher, your interactive flat panel can help you teach your kids how to create their very own iPhone or Android app. Students in Fox’s seventh grade computer science class use their IFP to learn how to write code for Android apps. They use the touch functionality to drag and drop blocks of code on the screen to collaborate with the entire class on their projects.
17. Take a flight with Google Earth.
You can use Google Earth for lots of different activities in your classroom. Pull up natural and political maps on your interactive flat panel so the entire class can view them at once. You can also use Google Earth Flight Simulator to see 3-D maps on the IFP. All you need to do is choose your starting point, and kids can take turns using the mouse or keyboard shortcuts to pilot the plane.
18. Review homework without the hassle.
Instead of writing out homework problems and questions on the board or reviewing them orally, you can display the work on your interactive flat panel. Stone connects a document camera to her BenQ IL650 interactive flat panel to go over student homework. You can easily switch between the teacher’s answer sheet and different students’ worksheets or notebooks to share and collaborate.
19. Try something new for read-alouds.
Epic! is a free app for educators with thousands of award-winning fiction and nonfiction children’s books that can be displayed on your interactive flat panel. Many of the books even have pre-recorded readings.
20. Engage the masses.
If your school is lucky enough to have interactive flat panels in every classroom, you can show school-wide videos or display warnings for emergency drills. Some schools even stream morning and afternoon announcements using their IFP.