17 Classroom Tricks for your Whiteboard, Projector, and Doc Camera

The combination of whiteboards, projectors, and document cameras is more powerful than many teachers realize. In the hectic rush of our everyday teaching, it's too easy to fall back on using these powerhouse tools as little more than digital overhead projectors.  So, here's what I call some "mini-tricks" to get more out of your whiteboard setup!
  1. Take a picture!  Your document camera is great for taking a snapshot of that worksheet you are projecting.  Many have a snapshot button right on the case; others use a little software program (ELMOs use ImageMate).
  2. Take lots of pictures! Are you presenting your notes via the document camera?  Take a quick picture for every page.  You can upload the pictures to Google Drive, DropBox, or Moodle, and share them with your students.
  3. Take video!  Most document cameras have an adjustable lens that can face horizontally.  It is a snap to record snapshots or videos of your students with the camera's software.
  4. Draw on maps! Gasp, really!? No, not really. Display your map onto your whiteboard, and then draw all over the board with your dry-erase markers!
  5. Make graphs! A quick Google search for graph paper will turn up loads of sites (like this one) with graph paper grids.  Project the grid, then plot your graphs with your dry-erase markers (or better yet, let students draw the graphs).
  6. Write music!  That link also has blank musical staffs, music teachers. I didn't forget you!
  7. Show images from the web! If all you need is few photos, load them up in some tabs on your browser before class.  Then when you need them, just switch over to each tab. You can usually zoom in or out with Ctrl-mouse wheel.
  8. Scan multiple-choice quizzes!  GradeCam is my favorite little ed tech secret.  It lets you create and print "fill-in-the-bubble" style quizzes that you correct by scanning them with your document camera. It's like spooky magic, and works great for formative assessments at the end of a class period. The free version lets you make quizzes with up to 10 questions.
  9. Show student work!  Great in math class! Student can try math problems on their own (maybe on mini-whiteboards or even just notebook paper), and then project their answers with the camera. 
  10. Correct student writing!  Grab a student writing sample, and then critique as a class. Using authentic student writing is a great conversation starter.
  11. Show "things!" Too quickly, we forget that the document camera can show objects as well as paper! Put a real ruler under that camera to teach the metric system, or show how to do complex functions on a calculator.
  12. "Blank" the screen. If you have a lesson that requires going back and forth, showing and hiding the projector, don't turn it off every time!  Most projectors have a "blank screen" mode that keeps them warmed up but not displaying anything. Then, when you're ready, un-blank the screen for an instant display.
  13. Use dual monitors! Depending on your setup (this works very easily on laptops), you can make your projector a second monitor. This means you can display different things on your computer monitor and the projector! This is another great way to get documents or images ready: hide them by leaving them open on the main screen, and drag them over to the projector when you need them.
  14. Use PowerPoint's "Presenter View!" Most teachers don't even know this is a thing! When you are in a dual-monitor mode (like with a laptop), you can display the full-screen PowerPoint slides on the projector while still viewing the regular PowerPoint window on your laptop.  This is why PowerPoint has that little "notes" section; you can add notes here, and still see them while you present.
  15. Display a countdown quiz timer!  I especially like these classroom-friendly timers.
  16. Watch video clips!  There are only, I don't know, a bazillion resources out there for educational video clips. Maybe you can find one you like.  :)
  17. Poll your students' understanding!  Ask your students a question, and have them respond electronically for a quick formative assessment. Forerunners in this area are Socrative and PollEverywhere.  Each has its own advantages, but both are amazingly powerful in schools where students have cell phones.
Do you have any great whiteboard/projector/camera tricks you want to share?  Put them in the comments below!


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