Education

Is a SMARTer Board the cure for Boredom?


Okay, so I’m a technology junkie. Call me an “early adopter” or a “technosavvy educator“, but the bottom line is that:

  • I love technology. In my classroom, in my home, in my life.
  • I love the look in a child’s eye when they see a new toy piece of technology.
  • I love being the one that introduces something new to a teenager.

I have played around with interactive whiteboards (aka Smartboards, electronic whiteboards, etc.) at conferences and sales pitches for years and always drooled over them. I’ve heard new faculty members at my school go on and on about the Smartboards that every teacher had at their previous school. I’ve read online articles extolling the amazing abilities of these devices to engage students and connect them, mentally and physically, to the lessons in the classroom. I even joined the Technology Committee at my school to try to effect change in the long-term plan and budget at that level, to no avail. After all of this, I am left with one clear mandate:

I am going to make sure that I have an electronic whiteboard in my classroom by the end of this academic year.

I don’t yet know how I’m going to do it, but I am committed to making it happen. I have grant options to pursue. I have PTA members to woo. Heck, at one point, my selfish side almost won out and got me to latch onto the new DonorsChoose “Bloggers Challenge” and siphon funds from my fellow bloggers. The problem with DonorsChoose right now is similar to the problems that have plagued the American middle class for decades. Rich schools don’t need funding, and poor schools get sympathy funding from every donor on the site. Schools in the middle (like mine, with 30% free lunch students) get overlooked, even though our budgets continue to shrink and technology costs continue to rise. I have had three medium-sized (<$500) proposals on DonorsChoose get funded, but five of my larger proposals have languished and eventually expired while waiting to be funded. Pardon my despair… I will find a way.

Any suggestions? Share them in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Is a SMARTer Board the cure for Boredom?

  1. Hey Paul, Whiteboards are over-rated times about 50—I’ve got one I don’t really value at all. They are a “bridging technology,” designed to support traditional teachers who are used to working from the board or the overhead. The thinking goes that if you want to get a seasoned teacher using technology, give them a technological tool that mirrors the instructional practices they’re comfortable with. Instead of pushing for a whiteboard, look to get two or three slates that you can use with groups of students around the room. Also, student responders are invaluable for promoting deeper level thinking and getting some insta-data.Anyway—just thinking.Bill

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  2. Bill,I appreciate your opinion, but I respectfully disagree. I have used student response systems, and they are very powerful. I think that an interactive whiteboard can complement and enhance the impact of the student data. I think that some teachers (myself included) have a style that includes instruction from the front of the room while the teacher combines active questioning with moving around the room and involving student responses and input in the process. That is where I see the strength of the Smartboard.On a related issue, none of this matters if you don’t have easy access to a digital projector. I hope that getting grant money for an interactive whiteboard will give me leverage that I can use to acquire a projector. I get frustrated with the discrepancy in technology access even across a single school district (albeit a large one). Some of us are still using chalkboards while others have dedicated lab space for science, and 5-10 computers in a classroom. I know it sounds petty, but I’m jealous.

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