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A Free Alternative to Smartboards: Interwrite Technology

Gabe_presentation

Photo: A student uses a wireless Interwrite pad/pen to help make his PowerPoint interactive.

Have you wanted a Smartboard but can't afford the price-tag or the space it takes up? Well, consider an Interwrite download, as it can do almost everything a Smartboard can with one quick (and free) download. With a wireless mouse and a clipboard, you are good to go. As for me, I won an Interwrite pad, making it one of my favorite tools in the classroom. 

No More Dirty Whiteboards!

Fraction_example

Photo: You can do everything on your TV or projector. With less space than a Smartboard.

Because I teach in a portable, we are not allowed to have projectors mounted on the ceiling and we can not have a Smartboard installed. This was sad news to me, but my technology coordinator, Mary, helped solved my technology dilemma lickety-quick. She installed Interwrite on my main computer for free, which hooks up to our large television.  From here, she ordered an Interwrite pad for me (about 300 dollars). The pad is really a great resource, but a wireless mouse and a clipboard works just as well. You can write notes on your "board" anywhere around the room. This makes it easy to continue writing notes on the board while you make your presence known by an off-task student. If you are not familiar with Interwrite, here are its features:

~ You can use your television screen like a whiteboard, using a keyboard and mouse or an Interwrite pad. This includes pens, markers, highlighter, and an on-screen keyboard, to name just a few.

~ With the program open you can "write on" and save notes made on Internet pages you visit together. This is really helpful when a student is absent and an Internet site was used for the lesson. Highlighting important areas helps catch students up quickly.

~ You can create multiple pages of notes and Internet pages and go back and forth with ease. Again, you can save these and return to them later.I particularly enjoy this when we are working with an online textbook.

~ Interwrite comes with a large photo gallery, including interactive tools. For example, you can import an interactive protractor to show the various degrees.

~ With the Interwrite pad, you can post a question on the board/TV and hand an Interwrite pad to a student. The student can write the answer from his/her seat with ease. It is light and easy to use.

~ Using the tools on the side, you can "work" the computer as if you were sitting in front of it with the keyboard with a mouse in hand.

~ You can write notes anywhere in the room, which allows you to walk around while teaching.  I do not like having my back turned while teaching. Interwrite easily solves this.

Interwrite_cloud 

Photo: You can't do this on a whiteboard! I quickly took a photo from our porch. I uploaded it and wrote this question on the "board". I could then hand of the pad for a student to write the answer on the photo. By the way, wispy clouds like this are called Cirrus.

Interwrite_question

Photo: Here is an example of one of the photo gallery pictures. You can import your photos as well (like above).

Interwrite_projector
Photo: Using an overhead projector, you can create a large learning space for your class. Shown here, I am writing on an Internet page/video with my Interwrite pad.

Interwrite_example
Photo: Here is what the pad looks like up close. On the left and right side are all the functions and keys you would need to use on a keyboard or mouse.

Total Cost

The Interwrite program is FREE! You don't need the pad, but I love it with all my heart. You can simply use a good wireless mouse on a clipboard to make this a totally free alternative.

The Interwrite pad was purchased for 300.00. I was fortunate enough to win it through a web design contest. And I was lucky enough to win a projector the year before under the same contest, so I often pair the two together. Interwrite can be downloaded at the following site:

http://www.einstruction.com/support_downloads/downloads.html

Comments

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Angela

Andras,

Oh no! I will let our tech. person know this tomorrow so they don't clear it off any computers during summer work. It was installed, for free, on hundreds of computers throughout our school. That is really just a total bummer to me. What luck, huh?

And, for some reason I didn't get a notification that you wrote on the 4th. Sorry about the late response.

Sorry readers,

Angela

Andras Hunyady

Well, Angela, I was inform by the reseller that the software alone (without any hardware) costs 273 euro+VAT/license (at least here in Hungary) which seems a pretty significant amount to me. :(

Best,
Andras

Angela

Patricia,

Please share what happens after 45 days...and at least that will get you through the school year. I still can't imagine something being free having a charge that is in anyway significant. Even if they did get bought out.

Best to you,

Angela

Patricia Whitfield

Thanks for the information. It seemed to be to good to be true. I guess I was a day to late.

Angela

Update- sort of

My tech. person said Interwrite was just bought out. They may, sadly, be in the process of switching this over to a paid program resource. If you have Interwrite on your computer, however, it will remain free for you. I am hoping if a charge is going to be enforced it remain insignificant. I mean, after all, how much can one charge when it was once free?

Angela

Angela

So here is the trail today. First Joe responded and said he downloaded with ease using what I suggested. Then I contacted my tech. person and she tried the download and was surprised to see the same thing as you. She has downloaded Interwrite on many, many, many computers. She said that had never happened before. She then wrote our tech. person from the county who responded with:

If you install by upgrading this should not be an issue. I still can not find the upgrade download.....I'll keep checking. If they've never had the program they would get the 45 day free trial.

----------------------------------------

I will personally email you when I get a better report on things. It's definetly free on all our computers. We even have it downloaded on the mobile laptops that were used this week.

Hope this somewhat helps.

Angela

Patricia Whitfield

Yes, it is the interwrite workspace. When I click to open it asks for a product key. The options are to provide a product key or to use the 45 day trial. Help!

Angela

Patricia,
It should be completely free. I am thinking you downloaded one of the other options. Was it the Interwrite Workspace? I believe that is the correct thing to download. If this is what you tried, let me know. I'll double check with my tech. person (STS). It's downloaded on every computer in our school.

Angela

Patricia Whitfield

I downloaded the software for the Interwrite Space and it does not appear to be free. It says that I have a 45 day free trial. Did I download the wrong thing?

Angela

Hello Ellen,

Joe may, in fact, be a better person to ask. In our school every computer has it downloaded and installed. I am 99% sure you download the "Interwrite Workspace." The other downloads (eg. CPS requires clickers for the kids) are good as well. Just follow the prompted directions from there.

Once it is downloaded, a wireless mouse works with Interwrite easily (just as it would with any computer). All you have to do is place the battery in the mouse, and plug in the device to the USB drive. The clipboard makes it easy to "write" and "move" around the screen.

And, I used the Interwrite for math Friday. We were working on solving algebra using inverse operations. I was able to walk around and see who was completing prompted problems correctly. From here, I could select a student to show the work...from their seat using the Interwrite pad. They love writing on the board like this, so everyone steps it up on trying to complete work neatly and correctly.

Hope that helps. If someone else has a better explanation, please share!

Angela

Ellen

I am working with our school to utilize the wiimote and a special IR pen to create low cost IWBs in classrooms but I am always looking for other low cost alternatives to the low tech overhead projector as well. I was able to get to the Interwrite website by copying and pasting the URL and getting past the Outlook page.

Question 1 - which exact piece(s) software on the page do you need to download?

Question 2 - do you (or Joe who also posted) have the exact directions for what to do once you have the software and want to use it with the wireless mouse and how that works with the clipboard?

If you can't post it here, could you place a link to how this is done or to a person we could email about this?

I am not intuitive about these things although I was able to get the whiteboard with the wiimote up and working. This sounds very promising as well, especially for math teachers as they roam the room.

Thank you.

Ellen

Angela

Hello,

I would recommend reading my post titled- Management Based on Trust. I am so not the disciplinarian, but I don't have issues with management at all. My approach may not work for you. Take a look at my post to see if it gives you a new look at how you can work with these students.

Best,

Angela

Joe Pendleton

Angela,
I need help. I have two students that tend to be bipolar and they are driving me crazy. They do not get a long with peers or adults. They have each received more than 20 pink slips (our form of a discipline process). I am at near the end of my rope. Both of them are above average intelligence, have terrible home lives, and lean toward defiant behavior. Any tips will be appreciated.

Joe Pendleton

Angela

Wow. What can I say? Can I just email you when I have a bad day so you can tell me how great I am? Okay, I am kidding. Maybe.

I do need to take a second to admit that the vast majority of my ideas come from other great educators. For example, I am going to spend a day with Lucy Calkins next Monday. I am sure I will steal most of her ideas and put a Bunyi twist to it. That's how I work. :) And sometimes it's even less interesting...let's take Interwrite, for example. Every teacher in my county has it downloaded on their computers due to required tech. trainings for the first two years that involve it.

Thank you for making me feel awesome today. Seriously. If I have a bad day...

Super Bunyi power,

Angela

Joe Pendleton

Angela,
You are funny. I have now added to my Interwrite...a wireless mouse...a wireless keyboard...and a wireless pad. Guess who likes this technology the most...you're right! My students love using this technology. All of my teaching neighbors are looking at us with envy.

I love your innovative ideas and your thoughtful Blogs, but most of all your greatness comes from your willingness to share with other teachers. One of my neighbor teachers came back from a conference really geeked about authors she met and things she learned, and I am happy for her. But, I have learned more from you than any conference I have been too.

I have a future teacher in 100 and 200 level classes that comes to my class an hour a day. Her supervising instructor has visited us three times. He has been sooooo impressed by what my students are doing with technology. The reason they are doing these awesome things is because of you and your inspiration. Each of my students know your name and that I have used so many of your ideas. You are a hero in Greenville, Michigan.

You are responsible for me spending a lot of money this year, but I forgive you. The results are worth it. Keep up the great job and please keep sharing. Your ideas are a gift from God and your sharing with others is a great gift from you. Thank you so much!

Joe Pendleton

Angela

I have noticed ads for the Mimio in the past few Instructor magazines. It looks really neat, but it looks like the price-tag is a little high (800 dollars+). Does anyone have experience with this? I am interested in learning more...

P.S. Us cheap people still like the free Interwrite

Aurélie

Hi Everybody,

I'm really so exciting about all these new whiteboard technologies to use in the classroom!
And It's a real fact, sometimes we are getting a bit limiting because they are not enough material available for the entire building.
But did you know the MIMIO yet? It's terrific. It's a MOBILE interactive whiteboard system! It just exist a bar to put on a ordinary whiteboard, who change your ordinary whiteboard into an interactive whiteboard. The thing is, that you need just 1 bar who can be used in each of your classrooms in the entire building! And it's even wireless!! Great to use for all collegues!!

Just take a look at www.mimio.com and you will see how fastastic it is!!!

ENJOY MIMIO!
Aurélie

Angela

Laura,

My thoughts exactly. Combining all you know with what is required helps keep you motivated. I wrote about this before, but it is that analogy of being a physician or a pharmacist. I don't want to be a reading pharmacist...handing out a prescription with no accountability. The reality, though, is that we have to be a little of both.

Thanks for sticking with me this year...

Angela

Angela

Joe,

Sounds great....just don't download the photo of me (the banner) and draw all over me!

Ha!

Angela

Laura Sims

Hi Angela,
I just had to echo Stacy's comment before in hoping that you'll continue some type of blog once the school year is over! You are a true inspiration to me! A couple years ago I discovered reader's workshop in the district I was teaching in. I now teach in a district that doesn't advocate reader's workshop (though I'm completely clueless why this is so), and it's made me crazy not to use such a powerful way of teaching. Following your blog and class website has made me committed to figuring out a way to combine what I know is best with what I'm required to do!

Thanks so much!
Laura

Joe Pendleton

Angela,
I taught a 7 page lesson today with Interwrite. It went so well and my students love the program. I have ordered a wireless keyboard and mouse. I can't wait for them to arrive. I tried to talk my principal into an Interwrite pad.

I had the same problem that Amanda had at first with the download. I just closed Microsoft Outlook and everything loaded except the Powerpoint connection. Interwrite does not merge with Office 08. I am going to load 04 Powerpoint this week-end and try again.

I can't believe how well Interwrite handles photos. I downloaded some super heroes from the web onto my desktop, moved them to Interwrite photo folder and then into the program. They resize so easily, move on the page, and then you can draw on them.

I am talking to all my workmates and the tech staff about loading Interwrite on computers where they will be used. Thanks one more time for all your sharing. You are one of my heroes.

Joe

P.S. The content area extras are a lot of fun too.

Angela

I think I can help. It sounds like you are saying the address itself gave you troubles (?). It worked on my side, so I would recommend copying and pasting the address in your browser's bar...then try again. Worst case scenario- you are trying to download Interwrite Workspace. You can type in www.einstruction.com and find it through a search.

If you get the link above to open- click on the Mac tab, click on the download option, and click "save".
:)

Amanda

Angela,
I seem to be having problems downloading the software. When I clicked on the link, it took me to a Microsoft Outlook Log-in. We don't use Microsoft at school, and my personal computer is an Apple. I don't have an account for it, so I'm not sure what to type in. I think I'm experiencing a small setback. Any pointers?

Thanks,
Amanda

Angela

Hey Joe,

I know, huh? Let me know if you have any questions about using Interwrite. For free, I can't think of a better tech. gadget to download. I use it on a daily basis.


~ Angela

Joe Pendleton

Angela,

Thank you for this site...it is a totally awesome site.

Joe

Angela

Hey Stacy,

I hope you don't mind, but I moved your comment from the "Quick Links". The original limit was set at 25 from Scholastic tech. people. When it hit 25, they changed it to 50. I was surprised to see 51 comments showing, but your post went over the limit again.

Regarding where to go next...I am not so sure. I would love to continue on with Scholastic, and I love doing this now. Every year I move forward with something new and exciting. I am sure I will have something to report to you by blog ending time. Writing here this year has been a total blast. I look forward to posting things...happy to hear you look forward to reading them.

Best,

Angela

Stacy

Angela,

I just wanted to thank you for your wealth of knowledge and willingness to share. I am a student teacher in fourth grade right now and look forward to your posts each week. Will you continue to blog elsewhere when your time at Scholastic comes to an end? I hope so because you give so much to all your fellow educators.

Thanks so much!

Stacy

Angela Bunyi

Hey Amanda,

Great to hear that you have found some of my tech. tools helpful. And how nice of you to print out a copy for each teacher. You might want to forward the blog link as well to your staff so they can have a direct link to download Interwrite. I think one of the largest benefits is space. Interwrite doesn't take up any space at all. :) I just can't believe the download is free. I had to go back and erase a few "frees" in my post because I kept saying it!

Regarding lights- right now I am using push pins. Looking at the photos, you can see the one string that needs re-hanging (my students have complained about this over the past week or so). I've been meaning to tack that one down. For "real" classrooms, use those hooks with the velcro/ tape backing. They are strong enough to hold it all up in small sections. It sure does make a difference for lighting in our room. When my kids saw Debbie Miller's book out one day they called me out on "taking" her idea.

~ Angela

Amanda McVay

Angela,
One more thing. This might be categorized as a really random question, BUT how do you mount the strings of lights on around the perimeter of your room? We are getting a new school next year, and I'm trying to think of how I'd like to redecorate once we are actually allowed to hang things up. I saw the lights in Debbie Miller's books and liked the ambiance, but of course the book doesn't mention how to hang them. I had the opportunity to meet Debbie and speak with her at a conference last year, and the last thing I was thinking about was stringing up lights. Any pointers on hanging them without nicking the room up?

Twinkle twinkle,
Amanda

Amanda McVay

Angela,

Thanks for sharing! I am really excited about this! I already printed out this page and put it in each of my colleagues mailboxes. :) We only have two Smartboards in our entire building, and sometimes that can be limiting. Free resources really get my blood pumping! :) Especially if they are quality products.
I also went out and bought an Intelliscanner, which is amazing. Some of my coworkers are also scanning away as we speak. So, I suppose I owe my new-found organizational system to you as well. Thanks for sharing your great ideas and resources.

Respectfully,
Amanda

Comments are closed. Please see Classroom Solutions, our new blog for the 2009-2010 school year. And stay tuned for Teaching Matters with Angela Bunyi and Beth Newingham.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Inside Angela's 4th Grade Classroom are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.