Top Tips on using a visualiser in the classroom
We had visualisers installed in every classroom in our school about 2 years ago. We use Promethean interactive white boards (IWB) with Active Inspire software (‘flipcharts’) and the visualisers we have are called Active View.
Often compared to over-head projectors, visualisers are able to show on the IBW resources that you have to hand. They are far more versatile than the old OHPs as it basically consists of a web-cam so you can easily show any document or resource very quickly and clearly on the board without having to prepare acetates. One can also zoom in and take photos with the visualiser which are handy functions.
At first I did not know what to do with my visualiser and I was reasonably addicted to creating lessons based on ‘flipcharts’ so for some time my visualiser went un-used.
It wasn’t until, through the Pixl organisation, I came across the idea of the “walking talking mock” (WTM) that I found my first use of the visualiser. The WTM is a powerful tool for exam preparation. Normally it involves taking a brief look at a question, or number of questions from a past paper, maybe highlighting with the class some of the concepts involved before giving the students the allotted time to attempt the questions. The visualiser comes in after this as the teacher then models the answer on the exam paper using the visualiser. I normally have the pupils amend or annotate their answers using green pen as I model the answer on the board. The WTM is so powerful that we consistently use this as an exam preparation tool with all years throughout the school year.
I used to spend hours using a snip tool to cut and paste parts of documents and worksheets and embedding these into my ‘flipcharts’ for use on the IWB. Now with the visualiser, I just need to make a couple of extra worksheets for me. On one spare w/sheet I will fill all the answers in before-hand so I can quickly reveal the answer to any question or group of questions. The other worksheet I will leave blank so I can model the answer to any question live in-front of my students.
The visualiser makes the modelling of answers so much more powerful then when done using an IWB or traditional white/black board. One can never quite replicate exactly what the students see or need to do when writing at a board but with the visualiser you are showing the pupils what they need to do with the same tools they are using. This is especially true in maths when demonstrating protractor and compass use or other tools.
The visualiser also helps with at least two techniques found in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion (TLAC). Technique 14 “Board = Paper” is so much easier with the visualiser as the board does actually equal the paper. One is not attempting to replicate the paper as much as one can on a white/black board or IWB software package but the board has literally become the paper as you have the exact same sheet up there that the pupils have in front of them. As Lemov says: “Students often have to learn how to be students as much as they need to learn content and skills, and the processes and practices of being a student also must be assimilated by modelling”. The visualiser is the perfect tool for this job.
The other TLAC technique for which I use the visualiser is the “Show Call” where, having circulated the room during an activity, I have identified one or two pieces of work which I bring to the front and place under the visualiser. This allows us to talk as a class about the good points of a student’s work and where it might be improved. The immediacy of it is fantastic! Pupils love seeing their work on the board and if you have the classroom climate right they enjoy hearing the feedback from their peers and are keen to act on it once they get their work back. I told my yr 11s I was writing a blog on our use of the visualiser and this came back as their favourite use of it, sharing each other’s’ work on the board.
How teachers use visualisers in their classroom
I also asked my colleagues to share their experiences and favourite uses of the visualiser and this is what came back:
- “I use mine for showing answers that students have written.. rather than just reading them out. Show an answer.. how many marks.. justify.. improve. Or simply to celebrate and model” – Hannah Hardy (science)
- “I use it midway through a task to demonstrate a student’s outstanding work as a form of peer modelling” – Anthony Crocker (Humanities)
- “I use mine most lessons to help write evaluations. We talk as a class about how to structure the written evaluations of practical work and then I will write an exemplar as if I performed, while the students are writing theirs. It reminds them to underline their titles and dates more than anything. I’ve also used it in the past to analyse scripts- instead of copying loads out, we just use the one on the screen and I film the discussion.” – Charlotte Derham (drama)
- “I use it for demonstrating writing music notation…drawing treble clefs etc. Accurate placing of notes on the musical stave.” Leigh Matthews (Music)
- “I use mine to go over past papers with pupils, or show them a specific piece of work that I only have one copy of such as an answer sheet or another piece of work to compare theirs with. I also use it to show pupils how to solve various mathematical problems and how to lay out their work. If I have given out a worksheet, I can run through it with them and point out on the sheet specifically what I want them to do, rather than stand at the front of the class pointing at it when some at the back may not be able to see.” – Ruth Lyon (Maths)
- As one can see, the visualiser is useful across the whole range of subjects, from the core to the foundation and performance subjects. I would highly recommend them as I have gone from never using one to using it most days in easy practical ways that really strengthen my classroom practice. The ability to model precisely what you need students to do and the real-time feedback on work completed are both invaluable assets to any classroom.
Thanks to my yr 11s and all the staff for contributing.