Using Digital Technology to Create Focal Points in Classrooms
Multiple focal points in classrooms facilitate greater flexibility in learning arrangements. Many classrooms still have just one major focal point at the front of the room; the teacher’s wall – often equipped with an interactive whiteboard, projector, traditional whiteboard and noticeboard. But how many primary school teachers spend their time at the front of the room? Most are moving constantly around working with pupils. They need to be able to present and teach from wherever they are.
There are increasing numbers of schools that now work with a variety of focal points in each classroom. Few schools can afford multiple screens though, so as an alternative you could use a number of write-on surfaces spaced around the room and that are of an appropriate height for pupils and staff. These surfaces can be a white board, dry wipe painted surface, or write-on sheets or rolls.
Multiple focal points in the classroom, thus shifting the focus away from the traditional front-facing teacher focus, creates greater flexibility for a range of learning activities. For example, a teacher could gather a small group of pupils in one corner of the room, and explain something on a local write-on surface. The teacher hasn’t had to travel to the front of the room and use a large board that would distract the entire class. Groups of pupils can also cluster together and brainstorm ideas, or pupils could stand at their desk and present to the class using the closest board, rather than shifting to the front. Multiple focal points have the benefit of giving the teacher flexibility as to where they work.
Increasing numbers of teachers are also working from a tablet device linked via Apple TV or similar, to their digital screen. This is because a fixed laptop or PC hardwired to the display screen is actually very limiting to most modern teaching styles. But when using a tablet, teachers can control what pupils are looking at on a board, from wherever they are in the room. Some have the ability to photographs pupils’ work from anywhere and display it on the screen so the whole class can see. This eliminates the need to gather pupils around one table to look at a piece of work, and more importantly means the teacher doesn’t need to take the work to the front of the room. Incorporating tablet technology in everyday learning also allows pupils to present their ideas and thoughts remotely without having to walk to the front of the room.
Some schools are going further and transforming whole walls into write-on surfaces. This allows for flexibility and versatility. It means a whole class of children could comfortably be writing down thoughts and ideas, and then can present to one another using their area of the wall as the focal point. Another good idea that some schools have adopted is write-on desks – excellent for group work. Both options are very stimulating for younger children in particular, who would have always been told not to write on desks or walls. This novelty can instil fantastic social skills like respect for other peoples’ property and actually discourage from vandalism and other negative behaviour, from an early age.