SMART Technologies Case Study
New Rochelle, New York
The installation of 500 SMART Board interactive whiteboards, with dynamic Notebook™ collaborative learning software, has brought energy and intense engagement to this suburban community just outside New York City.
Christine Coleman, director of technology at the City School District of New Rochelle (New York) is passionate about bringing sophisticated technical resources to her district's classrooms. Fortunately for Coleman, her goals dovetail with New Rochelle's overarching vision to "vigorously integrate technology into the curriculum in an effort to expand the scope, quality, and richness of the district's educational environment."
To help make the district's vision a reality, Coleman has worked closely with New Rochelle's educators, students, and the community to assess state-of-the-art technology resources that will redefine education and motivate lifelong learning.
With this goal in mind, Coleman conducted a comprehensive review of interactive whiteboard technology when she arrived at the district four years ago. "I did a comprehensive review of all of the interactive whiteboards on the market," she says. "I looked at whiteboards with an eye toward safety, durability, software functionality, interactive features, and longevity." After completing her analysis, Coleman decided the best interactive whiteboard supplier for New Rochelle was SMART, the industry pioneer and global education market segment leader in easy-to-use interactive whiteboards. Since 2004, New Rochelle has implemented more than 500 SMART Board interactive whiteboards loaded with Notebook collaborative learning software to classrooms throughout the district.
"The interactive whiteboards have created energy around the use of technology in our schools," says Coleman. "They provide a new way for teachers to think about their practice and pedagogy of instruction. And, simultaneously, students have became engaged, and, of course, intrigued."
According to Coleman, all 500 SMART Board interactive whiteboards in the district are running Notebook software—the real genius behind SMART Board interactive whiteboards. Coleman has marveled at the unique ways that teachers are using Notebook. In Jose Rosa's bilingual fourth-grade classroom, for instance, Coleman reports that Rosa is doing semantic mapping with help from Notebook.
Notebook's archiving capability, as Rosa's example illustrates, is one of the software's most important functions. "For teachers like Rosa, who teach the same course repeatedly to multiple groups of students during the day, Notebook provides a means to save these sessions for later use. Teachers can access a particular lesson, mark it up, save it, and then access it again the next day—right where they left off. In our district, it is critical for teachers to be able to archive lessons in this manner. Notebook software is invaluable to us."
Coleman can provide dozens of similar examples that help to illustrate the impact that SMART Board interactive whiteboards have had on all levels of learners. None of them, however, are more powerful than what happened when the SMART Board interactive whiteboards were installed in the district's special needs class for autistic children.
"We brought in the board and the software to train special needs teachers," says Coleman. "We provided the teachers with a software tool called Brain Pop. Then we watched as autistic children in wheelchairs—with multiple handicaps—came up to the interactive whiteboard and became highly engaged in content-level work. The special needs teacher uses Notebook to archive the Brain Pop lessons, so they can be repeated later—the special needs children in this particular group require a lot of repetition. Notebook also enabled the teacher to take digital pictures to show parents the success and triumphs of what their children have accomplished. It was touching to witness."
The SMART Board interactive whiteboards are also engaging learners at New Rochelle's elementary schools. Here, according to Coleman, students are using Notebook software to create digital storybooks. "At the Kindergarten or first-grade level, every student has the opportunity to come up to the whiteboard to draw or write," says Coleman. "This work is then archived in Notebook. From there, it can be printed and bound into book form so that it can be taken home by the students or sent by e-mail directly to their parents."
According to Coleman, SMART Board interactive whiteboards are being employed by educators teaching a wide range of subjects from science to history to math. The Math Department at the New Rochelle High School, for instance, is using SMART Board interactive whiteboards to run a software tool called Geometry Sketch Pad. Work done in Geometry Sketch Pad is archived in a Notebook file for later use by students during their comprehensive Regions reviews.
The Digital Natives
"Kids today are digital natives," explains Coleman. "They have no problem interacting with a whiteboard. They enjoy doing it. It's part of their world. Further, I've noticed that when registering for courses, many high school kids have begun asking, 'Is there a SMART Board in the class?' Notebook software provides them with the ability to take a lesson from an interactive whiteboard and print out the notes. It has had a very positive impact on their studies."
Coleman further illustrates her point: "SMART Board interactive whiteboards bring lessons alive in a digital environment. What is more exciting: 'Please open your book to page 16, and let's look for nouns in paragraph two,' or 'Let's put it on the Notebook page, and I'll show you the nouns in paragraph two'? When the content moves into a digital environment, it's creates a wonderful experience, especially when kids can touch the noun, move the noun, and put the noun in its place."
Students are not alone in their growing reliance on SMART Board interactive whiteboards. "The teachers—from the many I have spoken to—have become dependent upon teaching with the aid of an interactive whiteboard," says Coleman. "They enjoy the technology tremendously, and they enjoy teaching with it. It has brought new energy to their classrooms."
The 'new energy' created by SMART Board interactive whiteboards is helping to close what Coleman calls the 'digital divide.' "With the help of interactive whiteboards, we are closing an instructional gap. We have worked hard in this district to make the classroom a dynamic learning environment. If a teacher puts a Wiki on an interactive whiteboard, that's dynamic."
Coleman concludes, "As the director of technology, I work for the district, the board of education, the superintendent, and the assistant superintendent, but I also work for the kids. I want them to be engaged in the learning environment. I'm able to provide an engaging environment through the use of technologies such as SMART Board interactive whiteboards."