Technology has become an integrated part of today’s youth. The children of today are products of the computer and technological generation, and know more about computers than most adults. It seems logical, then, that schools are working hard to stay on top of the latest technological advances for their students.
At St. Rose of Lima School, for the past three years the school has been adding SMART Boards to their classrooms.
SMART Boards are interactive white boards that combine the ease of a white board with all the technology of a computer. Dry erase markers that are used on typical white boards are not what are used for this advancement. The board comes with four different colored pens that act as a stylus and an eraser to get rid of the digital ink.
The school acquired its first board three years ago. It is a portable white board that presently is in the kindergarten class. The children sat around the board as teacher Jean Martish found counting games online for them to play. Each student came up to the board and practiced their counting skills as the others watched, occasionally helping the student at the board when needed. With a simple touch of the finger, the kindergarteners are able to touch the correct answer just as someone would if they were using a mouse while sitting at a computer.
Martish said that kids today are so far advanced with the Internet and how to work computers that “the SMART boards bring us up to date with where they are.” Martish also mentioned that this advancement has increased cooperative learning in her classroom.
The SMART Board is interactive and is used by simply touching the screen. This lends itself to many group activities that can be conductive in a classroom. The lessons can be saved for students who were absent one day or the teacher can even revert to a problem done earlier in the class simply by hitting the back button; this eliminates having to rewrite a math problem over again.
St. Rose of Lima started their endeavor to improve their classroom technology when parents of the students expressed interest in acquiring SMART Boards.
The boards were purchased through the Scholastic Book Fair, as the school receives “scholastic points” for the amount of books they sell at their fair. These points go toward discounting the price of the boards, which cost about $1,000. Projectors cost $700 each.
Fourth grade teacher Stacey Wildenhain uses the board as a follow-up. She first teaches her students by using the book, along with worksheets and handouts; then she uses the board to “give more meaning to the lesson, and from more meaning brings understanding.” While teaching her students United States geography, she used books and worksheets to teach them by region, where all the states are, then used the SMART Board to find an Internet picture of a blank map. Her students sat around the board as she called on each one of them to go up and label the different states.
Tom Burke, the eighth grade teacher of both theology and science, uses the third SMART board to bring animation into his classrooms. He is able to find interactive websites that show pictures of objects that Burke says they couldn’t find anywhere else.
Burke said, “This technology will be here years down the road, unlike computers that change every year.”
The students of Burke’s theology class appreciate the technological diversity, as they said it makes classes more interesting and interactive as they can use the board as well.
St. Rose of Lima plans to acquire more SMART Boards every year to enrich their students’ learning. With the success of the book fair, they were able to buy their latest SMART board completely with the scholastic points.