July 23, 2014

HOW TO: Create an Audio Book Review and Play Them Using QR Codes on iPads

Since receiving a small number of iPads for my classroom, I have been doing some research on how best to use them effectively. This week I stumbled across a free app called Audioboo that allows students to record their thinking in audio form. The audio files are published on the web where a greater audience of other students in the class can hear their thoughts. 

During some collaborative inquiry professional development this year, a colleague and I were examining how audience has an impact on student work. Through that professional development, we learned that students are more engaged and are more careful in constructing their work when a public audiences is added into the equation. Using Audioboo to create more accountable book reviews seems like a natural extension of that learning. 

When students create an audio file using Audioboo, they can also create a QR code that will provide a scannable link to their audio file. Teachers and students could post their QR codes around the room and then allow other students to scan them and listen to those audio files on their iPads.

How to create an Audioboo file:

1. Download and install Audioboo for free from the App Store.
Recording an audio file.

2. Open the app and on the bottom left of the screen click on the red record button. Then press the next red record button in the popup dialog box. You will have up to 10 minutes of recording time. 

3. When you are done or want to take a break press the pause button.

4. You can click on the scissor icon to trim your audio file as needed.

5. When your file is ready for publishing click on publish.

6. In the publish dialog box you can add a title, description, photo, and your location. I recommend turning off location services in the Audioboo main settings to protect student privacy. 
Adding information about your file before uploading.
7. When you're finished adding the information you want, press upload to send your audio file to the web. You will now be able to access your audio file in the Audioboo app or on their website.



How to create a scannable QR code that links to your audio file:

1. In the Audioboo app, click on "My Posts" and then click on the audio file you want to create a QR code for. This will take you to a more detailed page of information about your audio file. 

2. Click on the share button, and then click on "Open in Safari". This will take you to the webpage that houses your Audioboo file. 

3. Click on the grey box that says "QR Code". This will take you to a detailed QR code page. 

4. You can save the QR code picture onto your iPad by tapping and holding on the picture of the QR or you can print the page by pressing the print button and selecting an air print compatible printer. 

QR Code Scanning Tip: I really like using the free app Quickmark.
The printable QR code page.


May 15, 2013

My Blended Learning Journey [Updated]

Introduction

As teachers we are always hearing about the importance of high-yield instructional strategies, timely and effective feedback, differentiation, assessment as or and for learning, and authentic tasks. These are great best-practices, but we struggle to do it all in a dynamic environment where there are more tasks than there is time to complete well.

Blended learning provides an opportunity for teachers to manage all of these best-practices a bit better. A blended learning model makes efficient use of technological resources to free up the teacher so that they can provide more individualized support to their students.

A blended classroom takes what is great about brick and mortar classrooms while adding the best elements of online e-learning. Here is a short video of what a blended learning model could look like:


That all seems great, but is it realistic? While not as glossy, many classrooms are already using a learning model similar to the one above. This blog entry chronicles my first few attempts at using the blended learning model in my classroom in an older school built in the 60s.

The Vision

I am fortunate in that my school has made an investment in classroom technology in the past two
Classroom arrangement for my first few attempts.
years. This was a school-led initiative, a focus we felt as a staff would help to prepare our students for a 21st century economy. We broke up our computer lab and installed those computers into classrooms so that students and teachers could use them right away when needed. This also allowed students to use assistive technology programs like Kurzweil, WordQ, and Dragon Naturally Speaking immediately rather than waiting to have access. We installed data projectors, document cameras, laptops, and even a few SMART boards to enhance instructional practices and student engagement. I am fortunate to say that all of these tools are available in my particular classroom plus some additional recycled desktop computers that our helpful I.T. professional setup for me.

In planning what my version of a blended classroom would look like, I came across some case studies by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, on how American charter schools are using this model. These case studies profiled a variety of blended learning arrangements. I settled on an approach that has three learning centres:
  • modelled learning area that features a guided component and interactive SMART board lessons;
  • a group activity area for hands-on learning;
  • an individual learning area focused on the use of computers to explore concepts.
Students will work in groups that move around the classroom at set intervals of time. For my first few attempts at this model, I will have the group rotate every 20 minutes. I have a feeling this won't be long enough, so I will probably have to look at adjusting my daily schedule to accommodate more time in the future.

Each blended learning session will be focused around a specific learning goal with each centre helping to reinforce that concept. The idea is to use a gradual release of responsibility where students learn something from the teacher, practice it in a group setting, and then work independently. In practice it will likely be difficult to have students move through the centres in this way unless they have staggered starts.

Modelled Learning Area

This is a teacher led area where a small group of students receives expert instruction in curriculum. Lessons have an interactive element that uses the SMART board to get students up to explore concepts. The teacher is able to do breakout groups at the guided table for individualized support that uses timely and effective feedback.

Group Learning Area
Students move from one centre to another
throughout a period of study.

The group learning area is where another small group of students is working collaboratively on a task related to a skill or curriculum expectation that is all related to the period's learning goal. Students at this area don't have access to the teacher and must instead work collaboratively to accomplish the task. Students will be able to ask questions about what they learned when they come to the modelled learning area.

Independent Learning Area

At this area, students work on their own using adaptive software (when available) on classroom computers. Because there are so many different sties and online resources that would be difficult for students to keep organized, I will be using Edmodo. Edmodo is an online platform that is visually similar to Facebook where I can post content in a safe school-centric environment. Edmodo allows me to keep track of students' activities while some adaptive software titles (like Reflex Math) allow me to track student achievement).

Conclusions

I am excited to be trying a new learning model that uses the technology available in my classroom to help me use more effective use of my time. I am hoping that I will see an increase in student engagement and increased academic growth. I will post some updates in the next few weeks including photos and a discussion on what worked well and what needs improvement.

Update - August 23, 2013

It's almost time to head back to school, so I have been thinking a lot about my blended learning experiment. I thought I would share an update on how things went - what worked well and what needs further refinement. It's worth noting that I only used this model while teaching science so that I could ease myself in.

Firstly, I have to say that my students really enjoyed this approach to teaching and learning. They were able to get up and out of their seats more often, collaborate with their peers, explore concepts with hands-on activities, all the while receiving more feedback.

For the independent learning area I was able to post videos and links to interactive websites that supported the curriculum on Edmodo. My students were motivated to complete tasks so that they could earn Edmodo badges. Beyond the badges though, the class reported that they liked learning on the computer. Something I noticed though was a lack of meaningful online discussion surrounding student learning. I am going to make a more concerted effort to teach this skill this year. I also noted that it can be very challenging and time consuming to find online learning materials that are appropriate and meaningful. Edmodo turned out to be a great tool, but I only used to post information. This year, I plan to use Edmodo with Google Drive to allow students to complete and hand-in assignments.

The group learning area was a hit with my class. They loved the opportunity to work as a team to explore scientific concepts. I made the activities really simple and provided very clear and concise instructions. I could see how any error in my instructions or an unclear direction could easily derail the activity, but fortunately this never occurred. It took a lot of time to prepare these activities due to the simplification of steps and instructions but I think this can be improved for next year by working with my neighbouring teacher to share in the preparation of these activities. I could also design activities that are multi-day rather than a new activity for each day.

In the modelled learning area I found that I was able to cover specific curriculum expectations much quicker while maintaining student focus through the use of the SMART board. I did find that my group size was a bit too large (6-7 students) hampering my ability to reach my slower learners. Next year I am thinking of adding another learning area or centre so that I can reduce the groups sizes and hopefully provide more personalized support.

I tried to move my class away from the idea of having an assigned seat. My thinking was that I wanted to keep my students moving to different learning areas so there would be no need for their own desk. To facilitate this, I provided each students with a cardboard magazine organizer that they used to keep all of their subject duotangs. The organizers were kept on a bookshelf at the side of the classroom. Pencils, pens, and erasers were kept in small bins for communal use and I provided tubs for pencils cases with personal writing tools like pencil crayons. My class bought into this idea pretty quickly because it meant no more messy desks and they liked the novelty of having their own organizer. I had to teach my class to get anticipate what materials they would need for the period so that they would be prepared to start. I made reference to our daily schedule chart and used positive reinforcement on Class Dojo.

Overall, the experiment was a success. I am going to make some tweaks and while implementing the blended learning model into math, language, and social studies for this September. Stay tuned for further updates.


February 02, 2013

HOW TO: Basic Classroom Podcasting

Classroom podcasting is something I had heard a lot about, but hadn't seen in practice. So when I decided that podcasting would be my next techie project, to the Internet I turned.
Our podcasting centre - cheap, old, but effective!

I discovered that if you a have a Macintosh computer in your classroom, the app Garage Band is probably the easiest way to produce a podcast. Garage Band makes recording, editing, importing effects/music, and publishing pretty easy. The problem though was that we don't have Macs at our school - we rely on ancient PCs running Windows XP.

To make my plan work I had to come up with an easy to use audio editing app that works on older computers. Audacity was the answer, and better yet, it's completely free. After installing Audacity and playing around with it for a few minutes I felt pretty confident that my students (grades 4 and 5) could learn it. The controls are very simple, the app uses the same symbols for recording and playback as you would find on an old tape reorder. The menus are simple and straightforward.

I attached a cheap microphone and headphones I found in the school basement to the back of the computer and we were in business. Students started recording their poetry as an oral communication centre during literacy centres time.

To make the recordings more interesting for the listener, and to get students thinking about their audience, I created an account at freesound.org where students could download sound effects and music. Freesound is a fantastic website full of audio content that is freely available for this sort of application.

Audacity for Windows screenshot.
To get the downloaded content into Audacity, students downloaded the track they wanted, then simply imported the sound file using the "Import" option in the "File" menu. This added a new track to their projects. With some simple exploration, students were able to loop, trim, and adjust the volume of the effects to compliment their spoken words.

As students finished up their work and were happy with the results, they exported their podcast as a .wav file using the "Export" command in the "File" menu. When exporting, students have the option to add a track title and artist - this will show up when playing the file on an iPod. I suggest making sure that students know to save their Audacity project files as well as their exported .wav final product so that they can go back and make changes if needed.

Later on, I imported all the .wav files into iTunes to upload onto the class iPod. The next week, students were listening to and reflecting on their peers' podcasts as a literacy centres activity.

January 29, 2013

Ear Defenders

A cheap pair of ear defenders.
When I first heard "ear defenders" used in a sentence, I had no idea what to picture in my mind. An autism specialist in my school board thought they may protect my student from sensory overload. I thought, "Great! What are they?"

It turns out that ear defenders is just "Educationeese" for ear protectors - the kind you may use with your gas powered leaf blower or weed whacker. I was intrigued by this low-tech solution and quickly adopted its use for my student. Fortunately, ear defenders along with a few other strategies really did help to make my student feel more comfortable. Not long after though, I wondered if other students who suffered from auditory distractions could benefit.

I went to a local auto parts retailer (Princess Auto) and bought myself five more ear defenders that were quickly in use throughout my class and in high demand. Students who struggled with auditory distractions and anyone who wanted to escape from the sounds of the classroom loved this tool.

One tip to keep in mind, is that ear defenders should be adjustable to a size that is comfortable for the smaller size of children's heads. I also wouldn't invest in a ton of one particular model until it is known that they are comfortable enough to wear for extended periods of time.

October 31, 2012

Printable Number Line Banners

We coloured the even numbers blue, odd
numbers green, and the tens red.
While teaching multiplication, I thought it would be handy to have a number line across the front of the classroom to show students skip-counting. The problem is, I am feeling cheap these days and I don't want to spend money at those expensive teacher stores (though I am sure they have lots of colourful options). So, I turned to Google!


I came across a website called SparkleBox that features printable number lines of all sorts. You can print the pages of the PDF and then glue the number line into a banner - it works a lot like the "Outstanding Chart" I created. There are lots of different number line options to choose from filled with colour. Of course, my school does not have a colour printer, so I printed my number line off in greyscale and had my student teacher help me colour it in with markers. To make sure our work wasn't for naught, we laminated it to keep it around for a long while.

It was a lot of work to get this thing up, but the hour spent printing, colouring, gluing, cutting, and laminating was shorter than driving across town to buy a similar thing. The next day, my students noticed... job well done!


August 02, 2012

HOW-TO: Setup Apple TV in the Classroom

The Apple TV comes with a remote,
 but you'll have to purchase the HDMI cable
to connect to your TV or projector.
This past Christmas we purchased ourselves an Apple TV 2 (Apple TV 3 now available) in an attempt to cut ourselves off from pricey cable television. It took a few months of figuring to eventually ditch cable. My quest to make the Apple TV our digital media hub and content provider got me thinking about how I could use this device in the classroom.

For those not in the know, the Apple TV is a small box that connects to your television set so that you can watch media from your computer or from the internet (think iTunes on your home television).

Quite possibly the best Apple TV feature is a technology called AirPlay. This allows users to stream media from their iOS devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad), Macs, and even PCs (more on this below!) wirelessly.

"But, how is this useful in the classroom?" you may say. The Apple TV can be used not only with a television, but a data projector to output the display and audio from any device. This means that you could walk around the classroom with an iPad with no cables while projecting a lesson or live demonstration using your projector. Students could also present their work from their own devices using AirPlay to the whole class using the Apple TV. What I am most excited about is that I can now wirelessly transmit audio and video and even extend my desktop or mirror my laptop's display on the projector. In the past, I had an audio cable and a display cable connecting my laptop to the projector. This severely limited where I could place my computer and keyboard. Now, I will be able to leave my laptop on my desk, not worry about anyone tripping on cables, and still be able to project engaging content for the whole class to see, hear, and interact with (see my interactive whiteboard tutorial).

Setup for Macs since mid-2011

In order to use AirPlay on a Mac you need the latest OS (10.8 - Mountain Lion), an Apple TV 2 or 3, and a Mac no older than early/mid-2011. (see a complete list of supported systems and detailed instructions from Apple)


Setup for Macs (before mid-2011) and PCs

I have a Macbook from 2010, so this is my particular arrangement. I use an app called AirParrot ($9.99/Free Trial) to connect to my Apple TV 2 (also works on Apple TV 3). You could use the setup for any PC running Windows XP or later.

AirParrot menu in the Mac's menu bar.
After you have installed AirParrot and registered it, you will have full access to all of the features. To connect to your Apple TV, make sure the Apple TV is on, then on your computer, load AirParrot. AirParrot will keep itself in your system tray (PC) or menu bar (Mac). Click on the AirParrot icon and select "Apple TV" as your device. By default, your computer's display will now mirror onto your television or through your projector depending on your setup. By another default, audio will continue to play through your computer's speak unless you enable audio through the AirParrot app. If you want AirParrot to AirPlay audio, you may be asked to install a driver and restart your computer for it to take effect.

Extending your desktop

If you wanted to show a movie to your class or leave a PowerPoint presentation up on your projected screen (or classroom television) but continue to use your computer at your desk, you could extend your desktop. Think of this as two monitors next to one another. The main monitor is on your left (laptop or desktop screen) where you could check your email, the secondary monitor in on your right (connected to your Apple TV) that your students are watching. To do this, in AirParrot click on "Extend Desktop" under "Displays". Now  you can drag an application from your main monitor off to the right of your screen and watch it appear on the display connected to your Apple TV.

For more information on AirParrot's features and technical support (quite stellar), check out their website.


June 19, 2012

Year One... Done.

Classroom packed up and ready to be cleaned over the summer.
My first full year of teaching has come to an end. I am sad to say goodbye to my students, but happy to welcome summer vacation and a sorely needed recharging. Reflecting on the year I feel proud about what I have been able to achieve, but restless in the knowledge that no matter how much I learn, this is a lifelong endeavour with few clear answers.

I have witnessed some amazing growth in my students. I don't share those stories publicly, but it is the best part of this profession.

In terms of the physical space and the focus of my writing, things have really blossomed. I have achieved most of what I set out to do for the school year. Some of the achievements I am most proud of is the whiteboard transformation, setting up my own interactive whiteboard, and establishing a classroom blog. Other changes that I didn't blog prominently about include setting up a bank of six computers, a new digital projector, a document camera, a guided groups table, and wireless internet (all thanks to a supportive administration and parent council).  With hard work, great support, and a little luck I was able to transform a technologically barren space into something that is more my style and in line with what I think a 21st century classroom should look like.

There are lots of improvements yet to consider; I will share those new goals over the course of the summer.

For now, it's time to feel good about what's been achieved and recharge.

May 27, 2012

Learning Skills Tracking Sheet [Download]

Many teachers (myself included) struggle with how to properly assess and collect data concerning the six learning skills on the Ontario report card. It's pretty tricky to adequately justify the mark you provide (N - needs improvement, S - satisfactory, G - good, and E - excellent) in the 6 areas (responsibility, independent work, initiative, organization, collaboration, and initiative).

I don't have all of the answers, but one part of the solution is being able to keep track of your observations. To help with this, and to act as a reference sheet while filling in your report cards, I have create a learning skills organizer that you can download here in .doc and .pdf formats.
Sample from the Learning Skills organizer














I have broken up each of the learning skill categories into the sub-categories listed on the report card and provided space to write in your students' names. What I do is focus in on a particular sub-category for a day and record my observations using the N, S, G, E system. You could repeat this a few times for each sub-cateogry. When you have filled in the entire matrix you have a handy reference sheet when you go to complete the learning skills section of your report card. Happy reporting!

February 23, 2012

HOW-TO: Create a Safe Classroom Blog Using KidBlog.org

Example student blog.
In the age of social media, some students find reading and writing in the form of text messages, email, wiki edits, status updates, and blog comments more engaging and meaningful.

In Ontario, blogs are first referred to in the Grade 6 Language Curriculum. At that level, students are asked to evaluate the effectiveness of opinions and issues in blog form. By Grade 7 students are asked to consider their audience when writing in blog form. Our curriculum reflects the reality that blogging is an emergent genre of text in the changing landscape of the written word.

As a blogger and educator, I feel it is important to introduce this genre of writing even earlier than our curriculum currently requires. There are multiple reasons for this:
  • Blogs are an opportunity to respond to media texts by commenting on the posts of others.
  • Early exposure to "netiquette" and online safety issues help to keep children safe.
  • Students present their writing for others to enjoy (one of Ruth Culham's "6+1 Writing Traits").
  • Blogs appeal to a variety of learning styles because they are highly visual and collaborative.
  • Assistive technology programs like WordQ and Kurzweil integrate nicely with blogging.
  • Blogs are an exciting platform that few students get to experience in the classroom setting.
I have searched the internet high and low for a student friendly blogging solution. I originally thought that I could just create a "Blogger" account for my class, but I encountered a problem with Google's terms of service (TOS) that prohibit children under 13 years of age from using the service.


Enter KidBlog. KidBlog is a safe blogging service that uses a WordPress (a very popular and reputable blog publishing platform) like system. The service is designed for students and teachers with many security and privacy settings, but it keeps things very simple and tidy.

I am going to take you on a small tour of my class blog setup and provide a few tips.

Setting up your class blog

  1. First, you'll have to register yourself as a teacher at KidBlog.
  2. After registering and logging in, you will find yourself on the main "dashboard" of your blog configuration. Navigate over to the "Settings" tab.
  3. Under "Settings" you can change the appearance of your blog by selecting the "Themes" sub-tab. There is a small variety of pre-built themes you can choose from that may suite your teaching style.
  4. Under the "Posts" sub-tab you can change the privacy settings for your blog by selecting the different options. I recommend setting the privacy such that only you and your students can see the blog when logged in. This prevents anyone from the public from accessing anything.
  5. Under the "Comments" sub-tab you can also make some changes to the privacy settings. Again, I suggest making sure that only you and your students can post comments on each other's blogs.
  6. Now you need to load some of your students' information into the blog so that they can all have their own unique page and login. To do this, select the "Users" tab up top. Click on the "Add New Users" sub-tab to input usernames and passwords for each of your students. 

There are many others settings to fully customize the blogging experience for your needs, but those are all of the basics.

The blog dashboard, where teachers get a great overview of their students' blogging activity and where changes to settings can be made.

Managing your class blog

Login window.
  • You and your students can now login into your blog by going to its URL and selecting "Login" at the top right. You will then get a login window with a pull-down list of each students' name and a spot to enter their password.
  • As the teacher you have access to many more features than your students. When you click on the "Control Panel" button you will enter the blog dashboard that provides you with a summary of everything happening on the blog. This summary includes links to active posts, draft posts, and recent comments. You can moderate the activities of your students using this interface quite easily.
  • For more advanced moderating, you can click on the "Posts" and "Comments" tabs to see a complete list of activities.
  • You can edit or delete anything created by your students at any time.

Feel free to post your experiences blogging in the classroom and any questions you may have in the comments to this post. Happy blogging!

February 05, 2012

HOW-TO: Build Your Own Interactive Wii SmartBoard

In my first year of teaching, my classroom had a touch-based interactive whiteboard. It was a great way to engage the visual learners in my class. This year, in what started out as a technologically barren classroom, I thought I would try building my own interactive whiteboard system based on the research of Johnny Chung Lee.

Modelling the construction of a triangle using the interactive ruler and protractor in Smart Notebook.
The Basics

Nintendo Wii Remote
The purpose of this setup is to allow teachers and students the opportunity to manipulate a computer using a special pen on a whiteboard. Traditional interactive whiteboards can sense the physical touch of an interactive pen. This system is not touch based, it is location based using the camera tracking system built into the end of a Nintendo Wii remote. The interactive pen projects an invisible beam of infrared light ono the whiteboard that can be tracked in space by the Wii remote. The Wii remote sends location information back to the computer allowing the interactive pen to move the mouse cursor and interact with the computer.

Required Materials:

IR Sabre infra-red pen.
  • a digital projector - mirroring the display from a computer
  • a computer - wirelessly connected to a Nintendo Wii remote using bluetooth
  • a Nintendo Wii remote - that can see the infrared signal from an infrared pen
  • an infra-red pen - used to interact with the whiteboard
  • a whiteboard or projector screen - for the digital projector to display an image on
  • Wiimote Whiteboard software - to connect your computer to the Wii remote

My Materials:

My Wii SmartBoard cart setup.

Setup Procedures:
  1. Connect your computer to your digital projector via a VGA, HDMI, or my case a mini-DVI cable.
  2. Check to make sure that your computer display is mirroring on your whiteboard through the projector.
  3. Install and run the Wiimote Whiteboard software (PC version download /  Mac version author's website).
  4. Make sure that your computer's bluetooth is turned on.
  5. Press the "1" and "2" buttons on your Wii remote. This will start the connection between your remote and computer. When your connection is successfully made, the Wiimote software will alert you.
  6. Place your Wii remote in front of your whiteboard so that the front camera is facing your whiteboard. 
  7. In the Wiimote software, click on "Calibrate". This will bring up a four corners calibration screen. Place the pen tip of your infra-red pen on each corner and click the pen button.
  8. When calibration is complete, your system is ready to go!
Troubleshooting:

It will take some trial and error to position the Wii remote camera such that it sees the entire whiteboard surface. If you notice the remote can't detect some of the points during calibration it's likely because you need to reposition the remote.

Be patient, it takes a little time for the Wii remote to make the connection to the computer. If you are having difficulty, make sure your computer's bluetooth is enabled, the Wiimote software is open, and try pressing the red reset button located under the Wii remote's battery cover.

Tips:
  • Press and hold the button on your infra-red pen to "right click".
  • Stand to one side of your board so that the Wii remote can see your pen's movements without obstructions.
  • You can connect another Wii remote to your setup to improve tracking resolution.
  • You can install and use Smart Notebook with your setup. (Highly recommended).
  • Practice using the system as much as possible before introducing it to the class. With practice, it's a fantastic interactive tool but it has a steep learning curve.
  • An internet connection and speakers will bring a whole new level of appeal to your system.
  • To write something, I usually load Notebook then write large, right click, select "recognize as text", then resize the text and place into position. I also have a wireless keyboard (thank you K.M.) that I pass around the room so students can input text.
Limitations:
  • The Wii remote camera must be able to see the end of your infra-red pen or it will not work. This makes interacting with the board awkward at times.
  • The tracking resolution is low, making it difficult to write clearly and small using the pen.
Advantages:
  • Thousands cheaper than purchasing a commercial interactive whiteboard.
  • Allows you to use any sort of website or application on your computer in an interactive way with your entire class.
  • Using the Smart Notebook software, you can create really engaging lessons with interactive components especially in math.
  • Create a technologically savvy and friendly atmosphere for your 21st century learners.
June 20, 2012 Update:
I have been using the wii board mostly for math because I have a recess break just before that period to get the board setup. I haven't figured out how to setup the board and just leave it on for the day easily without my computer going to sleep and messing it up. 

I have experienced many connection issues between the wii remote and the computer during initial setup over bluetooth using the Wiimote Whiteboard software. The issue can be fixed usually be removing the batteries from the remote and then restarting the software. 

My class loves the interactive board; it took them a while to get used to how it works and its quirks but I really think that its visual and interactive features make learning much more engaging. If your school has the money for "the real thing" I say go for it, but if you can't afford the many thousands of dollars to install a real interactive board then the Wii remote option is viable if you are comfortable with computers.