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Using Interactive Whiteboard
Technology to Implement the
Abstract Mathematical Sequence
Janet Van Heck
Many students with disabilities struggle in the area of
This is especially true related to the development of conceptual
Many students experience a lack of motivation and sometimes
even experience anxiety related to this aspect of the school
The concrete-representational-abstract (CRA) teaching sequence
delivered via explicit instruction and interactive whiteboard (IWB)
technology helps increase both conceptual knowledge and math
The C-R-A Sequence
The concrete-representational-abstract (CRA) teaching
sequence is an evidence-based instructional practice
that is used to support the development of conceptual
understanding in mathematics.
When teachers use the CRA sequence, instruction on a
new math skill begins at the concrete level (i.e.,
manipulative devices are used to represent and solve
the type of math problems being taught).
The Representative Stage
When students reach mastery level at the concrete level,
instruction progresses to the representational level (i.e.,
When students reach mastery level at the
representational level, instruction progresses to the
An IWB is a large (e.g., 50” - 95”) electronic display that
is connected to a computer and a projector.
The IWB shows the image of a computer screen.
How the IWB Operates
It operates via software that allows the teacher and
students to use it for various purposes.
By projecting a computer screen onto the board, the
user can control all Windows and Mac applications with
the simple movement of his or her finger on the board.
The CRA combined with the IWB
Teachers use the same lesson components advanced
These lessons use both manipulative devices and
The IWB is used during each component of the lesson.
Motivation through Games and
Motivating games and activities are used for guided
practice to enhance fluency with the newly learned skill.
When corrective feedback was needed, the teacher
simply used the overwrite features of the IWB.
IWBs and Mathematics
Research supports the claim that the use of interactive
whiteboards improves student desire to attain mastery
of the data .
This has been supported in qualitative research studies
and also in surveys about student use of interactive
Research Behind Technology as a
The technology has enormous potential to improve
learning and teaching in school.
Researchers claim that it has a powerful enticement for
Researchers have conducted studies that examined
advancement in student desire to learn in mathematics.
Research Behind Teaching with the IWB
They found that student motivation improved, especially
when the teacher showed positive support for the use of
Teachers who strongly supported using the board, and
likely used the technology well, produced larger
motivational effects in their students .
Research that Shows that Interest in
Mathematics Increased with the IWB
Interest in mathematics was increased by the use of the
interactive white board.
Students were more engaged in the math lesson in
working with the board than students who did not work
with the board .
Combination of Evidence-based
Evidence-based instruction that combines the Concrete-
Representational-Abstract teaching sequence with the
use of an IWB has the potential to improve students’
conceptual understanding of mathematics skills while
simultaneously increasing their motivation to practice
Overcome Math Anxiety with Fun
The increased success and enjoyment related to
mathematics instruction also has the potential to help
students who struggle from math anxiety. Using an
explicit instruction template to develop consistency
across lessons is very effective. Students benefits from
this type of instruction and also enjoy the learning
Torff, B. & Tirotta, R. (2010). Interactive whiteboards produce
small gains in elementary students’ self-reported motivation in
mathematics. Computers & Education, 54, 379–383.
Hennessy, S., Deaney, R., Ruthven, K., & Winterbottom, M.
(2007). Pedagogical strategies for using the interactive
whiteboard to foster learner participation in school science.
Learning, Media, and Technology, 32, 283–301.
Hudson, P. & Miller, S. P. (2006). Designing and Implementing
Mathematics Instruction for Students with Diverse Learning
Needs. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.