Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Interactive Whiteboard using a Wii Remote

Do you have an interactive whiteboard in your classroom?  If you do, consider yourself very lucky!!  I've always been so jealous of teachers who have Smart boards or Promethean boards in their classrooms.  There's just so much you can do with those things!!!

Last year I started looking all over the internet for "cheap Smart boards"....I seriously googled those exact words.   What I found was a way you can use a projector, a computer with bluetooth, a Wii remote, and an infrared pen to create a fairly inexpensive interactive whiteboard!! 



The site I stumbled upon was called Teach With Tech and I purchased everything I needed to get my interactive whiteboard set up for about 150 dollars.    Go check out their site for more information on the technical aspects of this project or simply google Wii interactive whiteboard.  You will find gobs of information, pictures, and videos from others who have done similar projects.  

As with anything, there are pros and cons to using this system.  
The pros far outweigh the cons, but I'll tell you about both of them.  

First the PROS!  :-)

One big pro is that I can write on my screen......using the Smoothboard toolbar!  
 (you can see the toolbar in the lower right hand corner of the screen....it allows me to change the color, size, etc. of the pen stroke!) 



Another pro is that I can use the pen as a "mouse" and click on links right from my screen!  
This comes in so handy!!


One of the things I LOVE about the setup, is that I can use my interactive whiteboard with Promethean board lessons.  I simply downloaded the Active Inspire software (FREE) and went to town looking for interactive Promethean lessons!  In this pic, I am dragging short & long Aa pictures to their correct box!


Now for the CONS :-(


 Because I am "writing" on a screen that is hanging from the ceiling, the lines are not always as straight as I'd like them to be.   I think it's because the screen is not stationary, but I'm not sure!

Honestly it's not a huge deal.....because I'm just happy I can "write" on my screen!!



The other cons are mostly setup related.  The whole system is a little cumbersome to set up and takes a lot of patience.  (The Wii remote has to be mounted to the ceiling so it can "see" your screen and pen).  For some unknown reason, the Wii remote sometimes fails to connect to my bluetooth and I have to restart the whole program several times.  This is extremely frustrating when I'm trying to teach a lesson, so many times I've just given up on using the whole thing.   I'm honestly not sure if it's a Wii problem, a software problem, or a bluetooth problem!!  Or perhaps it's just a user problem!  HA HA!

Even with all of the frustrations, I still LOVE my interactive whiteboard!  It's allowed me to do lots of things I never thought I'd be able to do, and has brought a whole new level of interaction to my kiddos. Right now my projector screen is a little too high for my kids to use the pen to interact with a website or a game, but eventually I'd like to lower it to allow them to utilize it more!



Monday, April 22, 2013

A is for Aloha Day!

Each year in Kindergarten we count down the last 26 days of school by having an "ABC Countdown."    It's something that everyone looks forward to and it's so much fun!!

Today was Aloha Day for A!
Hawaiian music and colorful leis were waiting for my kiddos as they arrived in the classroom this morning.  Most kids brought beach towels and dressed in bright tropical colors.  
Take a look at some of the fun we had today!

We made & decorated Aloha flower hats!


We listened to Hawaiian music and read books on our beach towels!


For a special snack we made a fruit salad and enjoyed it outdoors while relaxing in the sun.


One of my wonderful parents made a special surprise for us.....Flip Flops in the sand! 
(AKA Nutter Butter cookies in brown sugar!)
SO COOL!!!



Do you do anything fun to celebrate the last few days of school???