ActivBoard in the Bandroom

I am taking part in a high school reform initiative called “NeXt Generation Learning” that is being implemented in our county.  As part of this initiative, we are given technology to implement in our classrooms.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am a big proponent of integrating more technology in the music curriculum.

One of the tools that I was given is called an ActivBoard, an interactive whiteboard from Promethean Technologies.  After playing with it for several days and taking some professional development courses over the summer (all NeXt Gen teachers are required to do three weeks of training over the Summer) I came up with the idea of using it to explain how to read a marching chart.

In the past, I would just hold up a chart and point to it and explain what everything means.  I’d also use the markerboard to render a badly drawn, cartoonish marching chart to detail what everything was.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, and I did get the information across, but I was not prepared for what adding technology could do for this mundane task.

First, I used the ActivBoard camera tool to capture a blank chart.  I was then able to use this as the background on my flipchart.  I could then add text as needed of course, and annotate sort of like a PowerPoint presentation, BUT I could also annotate OVER the background using the included pen.  Now, this is not a new concept, but what makes the ActivBoard different is the fact that you control your computer in real time while you are doing your presentation, and can change elements on the fly.

I was able to explain, very patiently, over and over (by using the “clear annotations” “windex” tool) so that I started with a clean, fresh background each time without erasing the background chart.  Once the explanation was over, I flipped over to a background of the ACTUAL FIRST AND SECOND PAGES of our drill, which I imported using the camera tool.  I was then able to mark that up and draw attention to the information that they just learned APPLIED TO THEIR ACTUAL DRILL (rigor and relevance!).

As an added treat, I inserted an action item that, when clicked, opened my Pyware 3D Java player and animated the drill right on the ActivBoard!  Of course, I could have annotated over it while it was in motion (think teleprompter and John Madden!) Needless to say, my students’ collective jaws hit the floor when it animated (WITH music by the way).

I spent a total of about 15 minutes coming up with the flipchart, mostly because I’m still learning all of the features, but what I got was an interactive tool that I could absolutely WOW my students with.  I got a standing ovation when I finished my presentation.  When was the last time YOU got a standing ovation after explaning your drill?

Well, that’s all for now- I’ve got to finish my sandwich here at Panera Bread (taking advantage of free wireless).  As always, I welcome your questions and comments.


7 Responses to ActivBoard in the Bandroom

  1. I think that the next way to really build some long term engagement is to work out how to get the students involved in the use of Activboard. Being an Australian means I’m not really familiar with what goes into a drill, but you could have a half finished flipchart and talk through with the students about what is needed and fill in the “blanks” together to they gain a greater sense of purpose. (Why are we doing this?) Wow factor only lasts so long, so you have to think carefully about how this tool is sustainable in the long term.

  2. Owen Bradley says:

    That’s a great idea- it is kind of new to think of it as more than a markerboard for presentation. You are right, students interaction is the way to go to check for comprehension. I will incorporate this into my next lesson.

  3. Lisa D says:


    I do a bit of consulting on how to teach using the Activboard. Have you tried Promethean Planet? it’s a new website for Activboard users and they have a forum. it would be cool if all the music/band teachers could get “together” that way and share their ideas.

    Also you can publish your flipcharts to share with other band teachers.

    Just an idea!

    Lisa, Onboard Learning

  4. obradley48 says:

    Lisa- Promethean planet does not currently have many music education resources. I will be working on some secondary music flipcharts to upload to the music area. Thanks for the reply!

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