SMART Technologies Case Study
SMART Board™ interactive whiteboards help Coahoma raise TAKS pass rates
Texas Academic Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) is a standardized test that all students in Texas take each year to measure their academic standing in math, science, and social studies. In order to advance to the next grade level, students must pass TAKS. When Odis Franklin was hired as the technology director at Coahoma High School (Coahoma, Texas), the principal asked him to suggest ways in which the school could leverage technology to boost TAKS pass rates. For Franklin, the answer was obvious: SMART Board interactive whiteboards from SMART Technologies (Calgary, Alberta, Canada).
"Raising TAKS scores is an important goal for us throughout the Coahoma Independent School District, and I believed we could raise our TAKS pass rates by deploying SMART Boards in the science, math, and social studies classrooms," says Franklin. "I had previous experience with SMART Boards running Notebook software, so I convinced the principal to invest in SMART technology."
The result of Franklin's insightful suggestion has been profound. Since introducing the SMART Board interactive whiteboards, the district's TAKS pass rate has risen dramatically. "We've seen nearly a 10 percent improvement in TAKS pass rates in just two years, as well as an 11 percent increase in math scores on the junior high campus," says Franklin. "These improvements show that the kids are more involved in the learning process. And I believe their increased involvement is directly attributable to the fact that they can interact with the information that is being presented to them on the SMART Boards."
Getting students more directly involved in the learning process is precisely what Joyce Baumann, a leader in technology integration at the Coahoma Independent School District's elementary campus, has been doing with the assistance of a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Since a SMART Board interactive whiteboard running SMART Notebook software was installed in Baumann's sixth-grade language arts and social studies classroom two years ago, she has used it as an interactive platform to reach students and make learning fun. "The Notebook software enables me to prepare more and be ready to have things available for the students such as interactive maps and movies," says Baumann. "It helps me to make my lessons better and more interesting. The SMART Board is a jumping off point. Learning from a screen is something today's students are used to doing. But a SMART Board is more than a passive screen; it is an interactive learning environment. It allows teachers and students to more freely interact. In the 21st century classroom, the teacher is the facilitator and the students take an active role in learning. With SMART Boards, students are now more engaged, interactive learners."
According to Baumann, one of the keys to making the SMART Board interactive whiteboard effective is its ability to seamlessly integrate with a wide range of tools and technologies. For instance, Baumann often uses United Streaming, a video-on-demand service that allows teachers to search for short video presentations by subject matter. Once downloaded, Baumann can present United Streaming content to her class on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. This saves a tremendous amount of time for Coahoma teachers like Baumann. She no longer has to check movies out from the Region 18 Education Service Center in Midland, Texas, and wait for them to be delivered. It provides her with real-time, anytime viewing of virtually any subject imaginable.
Baumann's humanities classroom wasn't among those slated to receive a SMART Board interactive whiteboard when Coahoma High placed its initial order. "I just pleaded for one of these boards," says Baumann. "When math and science received their boards, I went to the principal's office and said, 'Language arts and social studies need SMART Boards, too.' So, they rolled one into my classroom. Today, I have the SMART Board mounted to the wall because I am not allowing it to be rolled back out!"
Baumann is putting her wall-mounted SMART Board interactive whiteboard to good use. Among her favorite features of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard is the software that ships with it: Notebook collaborative learning software. "Notebook software's advanced archiving capability makes it easy to give notes to students who are absent or who have trouble taking notes. The software makes the old chalkboard obsolete. Plus, it basically allows me to flip a switch to show video, maps, or the Internet—bringing history to life."
Baumann isn't the only teacher leveraging the power of Notebook software. According to technology director Odis Franklin, SMART Board interactive whiteboards running Notebook software are an essential element for the district's math and science teachers. For instance, the math department at Coahoma High leverages Notebook's extensive inventory of gallery items such as protractors, shapes, graphs, and specially designed math and science lesson activities. There's even a Flash calculator included in Notebook's tool gallery. "Using the software, a math teacher can go to the board and display Notebook's Flash calculator on the screen," says Franklin. "With the calculator visible to all the students, the teacher can easily walk them through math problems in a highly interactive way. Notebook software also enables our math and science teachers to quickly and easily display geometric shapes, diagrams, and graphs."
According to Franklin, the touch capabilities associated with the Flash calculator makes it an especially beneficial tool in the math and science classroom. "The kids really like it when they can come up to the board and touch the screen—they enjoy the interactivity," she says. "Knowing how interested they are in using the board, teachers try to find way to incorporate 'touch' in the lesson plan. For instance, by using the built-in Flash calculator, they can invite students to come up to the board and be part of the lesson. Teachers are creating learning games using these built-in tools. To play the games, they allow the kids to either control the board remotely using an AirLiner™ wireless slate or come to the front of the classroom and touch the board."
Franklin continues, "Teachers really like the Notebook software because it makes them more productive. Let's say a teacher has an Algebra I class during the first and third periods and in the second period he teaches Algebra II. Using Notebook software, he can save his notes from the first-period class and use them again in the third period. This is not only convenient but it also saves time and makes the teacher more productive and effective."
Meanwhile, back in Baumann's social studies classroom, the SMART Board interactive whiteboard is providing one student with an outlet to express himself in ways an old-fashioned chalkboard would never allow. Baumann explains, "Through the use of SMART technology, one of my case study students has become more vocal and is better at expressing himself," says Baumann. "He wants to see in print what he says verbally. So, as he provides verbal input during the lesson, I will write what he says on the SMART Board. Then, I print out what he has said and hand him his words back on paper. From his viewpoint, he thinks, 'Oh, that is what I said—she printed it out.' It gives him more ownership of the lesson, and it is something that wouldn't have been possible to do on a chalkboard."
From examples like this one, it's easy to understand why Franklin believed that students would be more engaged—and TAKS pass rates would naturally rise—if the District's students had access to SMART technology. To keep the District moving in the right direction, Franklin is already making plans to purchase an additional 30 SMART Board interactive whiteboards for the District's new high school building. "We are going to put a SMART Board in every class in the new high school," says Franklin emphatically. Franklin's steadfast belief in SMART technology is not only reinforced by the dramatic increase in the student's TAKS pass rates, but also by his observations as he interacts with teachers and students throughout the District. "Coahoma teachers are telling me that their students are more engaged in the learning process," Franklin concludes. "They pay closer attention and are more interested in their lessons. As I walked into a classroom to install a SMART Board—I did all of the installs myself—the students' faces would light up and they'd say, 'We are getting a SMART Board!' It is amazing to me that students are so excited about a learning tool."