Executive summaries of recent district installations.
Interactive whiteboards liven up a classroom!
NAME: Myron Rumsey, director of technology
DISTRICT: Odessa-Montour (NY) Central School District
WHAT WE USE: Promethean Activboard 78/Activboard +2
How we use it: This tool transforms teaching and changes how students perceive instructional material. It equalizes visual and audio learners. We’ve seen a huge increase in student participation wherever teachers use the whiteboards. When used with student response systems, teachers get a 100 percent student involvement. Every student is engaged, and the teachers can adjust their teaching on the fly. We have Activboards in 20 percent of our district, and we have plans to expand them into the rest of our district.
Why I like it: I have teachers who have been teaching for 35 years, and they tell me this is the most exciting year they’ve ever had. We like Promethean because it focuses purely on K–12. Promethean listens to the feedback from our teachers and students and offers an all-in-one solution—everything from installation to training. Content is another huge deciding factor. Promethean Planet has more than 20,000 images and is a great help to busy teachers.
What I wish it could do: I would like to be able to use more than one pen at a time. I also wish our response system allowed multiple answers and text messaging. Promethean says new versions offer these features.
NAME: Patricia M. Kershaw, instructional technology manager
DISTRICT: Fauquier County (VA) Public Schools
WHAT WE USE: SMART Board 680
How we use it: Fauquier County Public Schools serves about 12,000 students and employs more than 1,800 teachers, administrators, and support staff members. We have an interactive whiteboard in every core classroom in every elementary school in the district. One middle school has mounted interactive whiteboards in every core classroom; the other middle schools and high schools have several whiteboards on wheels that classrooms share. The interactive whiteboards are used in conjunction with Web sites, lesson plans, and activities that support learning.
Why I like it: Interactive whiteboards offer students the ability to use all senses in the learning process. The boards appeal to visual and kinesthetic learners. When the whiteboard is used appropriately, the verbal and auditory learner can also benefit from the large group learning environment. We chose SMART Boards because of the “touch” technology, which allows students the ability to touch the screen and manipulate the object on the screen. This capability lets students participate physically with the materials on the board.
What I wish it could do: Besides the need to expand the number of SMART Boards in our middle and high schools, we would like to add response systems and document cameras to use with the interactive whiteboards.
NAME: Jason Briggs, vice principal
SCHOOL: Saint Gregory the Great School (NJ)
WHAT WE USE: Hitachi StarBoard Model FX-77
How we use it: We have 10 Hitachi StarBoards in our math/science classrooms for grades 5–8, the science lab, the computer lab, and one fourth-grade classroom. Teachers use the boards every day and encourage students to manipulate data on them. We use StarBoards because we want to acquaint students with cutting-edge technology, and we believe that instructional technology lets our teachers maximize effective student learning.
Why I like it: We chose the Hitachi StarBoard FX-77 for its durability and the educational value of its software. The software is intuitive to learn and features a variety of papers and templates that fit seamlessly into teachers’ lessons. The StarBoards were also easy to install.
What I wish it could do: We hope to add interaction devices, such as tablets, to our StarBoard systems in order to increase student participation.
NAME: Vicki Herrington, director, instructional technology integration
SCHOOL: Alan Leis Instructional Center, Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools (FCPS)
WHAT WE USE: mimio Interactive
How we use it: FCPS is the country’s 13th largest school system, with more than 20,000 teachers. We use a variety of whiteboards and have found them a valuable tool for helping students see better and increasing active student engagement. We would like to have an interactive whiteboard in every classroom, but the cost is prohibitive. The mimio, however, is an affordable alternative. It attaches to any whiteboard, connects to the computer, and when used with a projector, allows teachers to control their desktops directly from the board.
Why I like it: The mimio serves a lot of purposes at a lower price. It is an excellent choice where mobility and affordability are an issue. It gives teachers the functionality of an interactive whiteboard and accommodates a variety of learners. Teachers like that the mimio is mobile and easy to use.
What I wish it could do: I wish that it could change functions more easily and were more programmable.
NAME: Shauna Jensen, technology specialist/trainer
DISTRICT: Granite (CO) School District
WHAT WE USE: Interwrite Boards and Pads
How we use it: We use Interwrite Boards and Pads in our electronically enhanced classrooms in both elementary and secondary schools. Our teachers are adapting their lessons to take advantage of the products’ interactivity in order to get students to work with the whiteboards and raise the overall level of student egagement and interest.
Why I like it: Hands down, the interactive whiteboard is the one piece of technology that our teachers say they could not teach without. We like the quality of the Interwrite School Board and the software that comes with it. There are also thousands of ready-made lessons to download from Interwrite’s online Educator’s Resource Center.
What I wish it could do: I would like to see multiple students be able to interact on the same board, and it would be the coolest if students could interact simultaneously with other students on whiteboards around the world.
Christine Weiser is a writer and editor who has reported on K-12 education technology for more than 15 years.