I am very fortunate to have a projector, document camera, and interactive whiteboard in my classroom. I have become so accustomed to using these tools every day, I could not imagine teaching without them. Projectors, document cameras, and interactive whiteboards increase student engagement, support a variety of learning styles, and increase learning outcomes. They can be especially effective in special education classrooms with students with hearing and visual impairments. Since it is the time of year where planning for budgets and grant writing is really picking up, these three tools should be at the top of your ‘must have’ list.
Projectors display images from your computer screen onto any flat, light-colored surface. The image can be projected onto a standard whiteboard, a white wall, a projector screen or an interactive whiteboard. Projectors can be mounted on the ceiling of a classroom or used from a mobile cart or table. There are HD, LCD, and DLP projectors, all of which are standard size and formatting. A more recent projector technology is the portable projector. They are projectors that are small enough to fit into your pocket! Costs vary depending on size and quality. Projectors are great for visual learners to be able to see and experience what you are teaching. In my class, I use my projector to show students presentations for section reviews of the textbook, review games, for step-by-step lessons on how to use the various Microsoft Office products, along with class updates from my website. Projectors are also great to show movies or video clips that can help to make learning come alive! To make projectors even more powerful as a tool in the classroom, they can also be used in conjunction with an interactive whiteboard or a document camera.
Document cameras are the 21st century version of an overhead projector. When used in conjunction with a projector, document cameras can be used to display printed materials, books, worksheets, review answers, or lecture notes. You can zoom in and zoom out of the documents or freeze what is on the screen. In a special education classroom, the zoom function of a document camera can be especially useful for students with low vision. You can also place 3D objects under the camera and see live ‘shots’ of what is under the camera. Some document cameras also include a microscope attachment.
Interactive whiteboards allow teachers and students to interact with the board digitally rather than using chalk or markers. Your computer screen is projected onto the board with a projector. Then, with digital markers, erasers, and other various selected tools, you and your students can interact with the board. This tool is great for special education students as it allows them to be more hands-on with their learning. In my class, I create review games within my presentations that are interactive. An example would be a matching vocabulary game where the students have to literally select and drag or draw a digital line connecting the term to the definition on the board. I also use my interactive whiteboard by incorporating pictures of the various menus and tools in the Microsoft Applications and then the students have to select and move the correct answers to the labeled area. Pictures, videos, and audio files can also easily be incorporated within a presentation on an interactive board. These visuals make learning meaningful for students. Most interactive whiteboards also come with software applications that make using the board as an interactive tool in the classroom easier. They also supply pre-made templates for games similar to Jeopardy or Millionaire. There are so many different ways to actively involve students in learning while using an interactive white board.
Projectors, document cameras, and interactive whiteboards are all technology tools that are great resources to have in a special education classroom. They allow presentations and lectures to become more interactive through hands-on lessons and the ability to visually show students the meaning of what you are teaching.
Article by Laura Ketcham
Photo by Sridqway
Special Education Resources by MangoMon