District: GALESBURG COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT 205 Galesburg, IL; a 4,000-student districtType Of Whiteboard: SMART Boards (a 77-inch SMART Board is $1,399), www.smart tech.comWhy whiteboards?“We wanted to enhance teachers’ comfort and expertise with innovative teaching and learning tools, and our students’ engagement in learning, our students’ technology skills,” says Matt Jacobson, technology and learning coordinator.We chose these whiteboards because ...SMART has “taken care of us and takes notice of the things we’re doing.” The local trainer helped the district coordinate SMART user groups that serve as support groups, allowing teachers to exchange lesson plans.What do you like about the whiteboards?“The packaged software works wonderfully and can be used with anything on the desktop. The smart notebook tools, such as the magnifier and spotlight, help teachers navigate.”What don’t you like about the whiteboards?“This is nitpicking, but the latest version of clicker software forces you to reinstall Notebook 10.”Have teachers integrated the whiteboards successfully?“The K-8 teachers are doing an especially wonderful job, but the high-school teachers are taking a little longer. If the board is in a class, the teacher is more apt to incorporate it.”Any advice for schools that are considering whiteboards?Mount them permanently if it’s affordable, as you’ll get more usage. “Giving support and training, along with the time to play with it and figure out what this button does, is the key.”
The newly enhanced SMART TableST230i interactive learning center (www.smarttech.com/table) includes a SMART Sync classroom management software license that enables teachers to transfer content between their computer and the SMART Table. They can then monitor and control student activity, and display the SMART Table screen image on a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Additionally, integration with the SMART Document Camera enables students to capture images directly onto the SMART Table in real time. The SMART Table Toolkit—used by teachers to customize and create content—now provides direct access to thousands of SMART Notebook collaborative learning software Gallery items, and allows teachers to preview SMART Table activities on their computer.
Abstract Technology, ever changing, has become more accessible to teachers in the last few years. Teachers need to be able to use technology to increase their professional development and to have positive contact with students on a regular basis. The action research report discussed in this article illustrates the
Blossom Learning is an online applied SMART Board course that allows teachers and students to take a course at their own pace, and repeat a lesson until proficiency is achieved. The course contains end of chapter reviews, but teachers have the freedom to review at any time. PROS: The program is a bargain at its price, offering nearly four days of instruction and covering all aspects of the SMART Board from the basics to the most advanced topics. The course features built-in administrative functions that allow administrators to assign, monitor, and evaluate individual teacher progress.CONS: To successfully take the course, teachers and students should have some prior knowledge of how to learn from an online course.OVERALL EVALUATION: Schools who want to incorporate more SMART Board technology into their classroom curricula will benefit from a program like Blossom Learning, with its straightforward lessons and individualized opportunity for progressing at a self-paced level.www.blossomlearning.comRetail price: $69.95—Joe Huber
Literacy publisher MindPlay launched a new online professional development course for K-12 teachers and parents
District: ENTERPRISE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT Redding, CA; a 3,500-student districtType Of Whiteboard: eInstruction (the Interwrite Board Model 1095 is $1,825), www.interwritelearning.comWhy whiteboards?California students aren’t tied into a particular district because of where they live, so districts need to “compete for students,” says J.D. Wolfe, director of IT. “We wanted our tech offering to be the most appealing and beneficial for students.”We chose these whiteboards because ...Wolfe loved eLearning’s flexibility. “We bought just the components we wanted and integrated them,” he says. “Interwrite is only board I know that lets you use a regular pen. That makes it easier for teachers, especially those less comfortable with technology.”What do you like about the whiteboards?“The feedback is positive. Teachers say it opens a whole new realm for reaching kids. They’re thrilled with the lesson plans already created by other teachers in various subjects, and Interwrite support has been great.”What don’t you like about the whiteboards?As with any new technology, Wolfe says, there have been a few bugs, but they’ve been worked out quickly and easily.Have teachers integrated the whiteboards successfully?“The teachers who have them rave about them,” says Wolfe. “Many used the Interwrite pad before we bought these; they even bought the pads with their own classroom money.”Any advice for schools that are considering whiteboards?Wolfe suggests evaluating your needs against the products out there, and then looking at your budget. “Plan for professional development,” he urges. “Also, be sure to involve your teachers in the decision process; you’ll create more buy-in.”
My district is going to start offering locally developed and taught online courses in the fall. We realize that course design must be different, but are there other pitfalls we need to anticipate? There are several, but staffing is a critical issue that is catching many districts by surprise.