Promote 21st century skills with your SMART Board and Spongelab
By Ian Fogarty
Students worked away at the puzzles, learning seemingly unconnected topics in biology by solving puzzles. It is sort of a scavenger hunt, meets National Treasure and Advanced Placement Biology.
However, as you get further into the game, you start to see how all the pieces fit together. This is analogous to learning science. You do not always know why something will be useful and then at some point in time later, it is the crucial piece of the puzzle. It is a nice analogy to science.
Add a SMART Board for collaboration
Particularly interesting was the combination of the History of Biology with a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Half of the class worked on the game as individuals on laptops while the other half of the class worked in small teams of three and four at SMART Board interactive whiteboards.
It was fascinating to watch the teams work together to solve the game. Although the students at 1:1 laptops were in close proximity and gathered around tables, their interactions were very limited. Just because students are arranged in a collaborative shape, each with their own technology, working on the same problem does not mean that they will actually collaborate.
However, the students gathered around the interactive whiteboards were talking, discussing, in some cases arguing, and working as a team. The SMART Board interactive whiteboards improved the communication and the social constructivism. The interactive whiteboards turned an activity that uses technology into a 21st century learning activity by encouraging all those 21st century skills, such as communication, critical thinking, media literacy and the like.
Resources are the key to success
Some educators have been looking at interactive whiteboards as Traditional Pedagogy Replicators (TPR’s). Combining the History of Biology game from Spongelab, with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard is a wonderful example of how this technology can transform student learning. The key is having students use the interactive whiteboards with wonderful resources like the History of Biology.
Spongelab is a free online platform for playing, learning and teaching science. Interactive educational multimedia can be seamlessly placed in online lessons, then shared with students and integrated with powerful performance-tracking tools. Explore over 800 pieces of science content, including games, images, videos, animations, case studies and more.