The Leader Union: SmartBoard of EducationMay 4th, 2011 | By admin | Category: News, News Coverage
If you walk by a classroom at Brownstown Elementary School and hear the sound of race cars, it doesn’t mean that students in the class are watching a NASCAR race. It’s all of the students finding out how they completed a class exercise.
That’s one of the fun ways that students at the school are learning through the use of equipment that the school district has obtained through a grant program.
BES Principal Angela Reeter, Brownstown Superintendent of Schools Doug Slover and Regional Superintendent of Schools Mark Drone were among those on hand as BES Title I teacher Keri Buscher and fifth-grade students demonstrated the use of the SmartBoard equipment obtained through a federal Enhancing Education Through Technology grant.
The Brownstown district was awarded a three-year grant, and is now in its second year of receiving grant funds. Reeter said that to date, the district has been able to use “upwards of $500,000” of grant monies for educational technology equipment.
Through the grant program, the district has been receiving interactive digital chalkboards, desktop and laptop computers and a variety of instructional digital resources. The grant also allows teachers to participate in professional development sessions, during which they learn to develop and use the district’s new technology resources.
During the demonstration, each of the fifth-graders had a race car, and their position in a race was determined by how quickly – and correctly – they answered questions with their Qwizdom connect remotes during a class exercise.
Using the SmartBoard equipment, Buscher and the students were able to complete the class exercise in about 15 minutes. Doing the old way, with paper and pencil, used to take 30-45 minutes, Buscher said.
The time-saving aspect is just one of the many benefits of the new equipment, Buscher said.
Another is the immediate response that both teacher and student get. “They know right away how they did on a question or an exercise,” Buscher said.
“They don’t have to wait two or three days to find out their grade,” added Kathy Brown, Title I aid.
Buscher said the use of the equipment also “makes the students more attentive. It’s keeps their attention better.
“When we do exercises, they are ready for the next question, and excited about performing well against their classmates,” she said.
“The students love it, because everything is presented in a different – and fun – way,” Buscher said. “It also makes teaching more fun.”
And while the new equipment requires more preparation time, she and Reeter said, the grant funds have provided the equipment that teachers can use to do the prep work at home on nights and weekends.
Currently, students in grades 2-6 at BES are using the new technology equipment. At the end of each school year, however, students in kindergarten and first grade are exposed to it, learning how to use it.
And those younger students pick it up quickly, Reeter said.
“They are technology-surrounded,” she said, explaining that children are becoming increasingly exposed to a variety of
technology devices at all ages.
“Our students know how to use it without any problems,” she said.
And the SmartBoards and other equipment the district received this year is a vast improvement over that which was used last year.
During the last school year, BES classes used a “robot,” with students having to direct their remotes correctly in order to have their answers recorded.
“It was frustrating for the students, because they might have had the answer first, but it didn’t get recorded because they didn’t aim (their remote) just right,” Reeter said.
In addition to using it for many classroom exercises, she said, the district staff can use the equipment to prepare students for state tests.
“We can use it for every subject, and also for reward activities,” Reeter said. “We have found a way to use it in every aspect.”
But, she pointed out, that doesn’t mean that the faculty wants to use it all of the time.
“If we used it for every subject, I think it would lose something. If you use it, say, two times a week, the students know that it’s something special,” Reeter said.
–By Rich Bauer