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SMART Board Interactive Whiteboard Best Practices Shine at NYC School

Two years ago, when Library Media Specialist Peter Kornicker wrote a proposal to enter his school, Don Pedro Albizu Campos (New York, N.Y.), in the Collaboration Category of the Intel Schools of Distinction competition, he had no idea that his effort would eventually lead to the placement of interactive whiteboards in the classrooms of his ethnically diverse, inner-city public school. Kornicker’s entry was selected as the “Best of the Best,” and as part of the award package, Kornicker’s school received interactive whiteboards from SMART Technologies.

Kornicker placed the SMART Board interactive whiteboards in classrooms where teachers were best suited to use the technology. The initial success of the implementation led to the acquisition of several additional boards and, ultimately, to the purchase of the SMART Board 660i interactive whiteboard system for all 25 classrooms at Don Pedro Albizu Campos. The 600i is an integrated system that combines a projector and an interactive whiteboard. The system allows teachers to easily incorporate multimedia elements, such as videos and interactive demonstrations, into their lessons. When it came to the schoolwide rollout, Kornicker—along with his tech committee, the P.S. 161 staff, and Tech Coach Shaun Hopkins—developed a set of best practices that could be used by every instructor. During the implementation process, Kornicker attended several SMART training classes to become cognizant of the breadth of capabilities offered by SMART Board interactive whiteboards running SMART Notebook software. Notebook is a collaborative learning software that enables Don Pedro Albizu Campos’s instructors easily to add interactivity to lessons through an array of powerful education tools and resources. After attending SMART Master training classes, Kornicker was able to develop a number of important, best-practice utilization concepts for the SMART Board interactive whiteboards, including the interchangeability of lesson plans. “When a teacher develops a really wonderful lesson in Notebook software, we download the lesson to a flash drive and distribute it to the other teachers of that grade level,” he says. “The ability to archive and document great lesson plans is a benefit that will pay even higher dividends down the line when we are repeating the cycles of the lessons that have been presented and used. At that point, the teacher will be able simply and easily to retrieve those documents from their hard drive.”

According to Kornicker, Notebook software gives Don Pedro’s teachers the ability to plan and prepare lessons anywhere they can access Notebook. Kornicker has made sure that Notebook has been installed on every computer in the school. “We’ve taught instructors to link from our Web site to SMART’s education Web site,” adds Kornicker. “Today, teachers can log on from their home computers and access the software they need to prepare their lessons.”

According to Kornicker, one of the most promising aspects of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard technology is its ability to reach students whose intellectual learning styles were not being reached using traditional learning tools. Here, too, Kornicker developed best practices for leveraging the power of Notebook software to teach visual and kinesthetic learners. “Here was an opportunity to leverage a different style of learning,” he says. “By using the product and gathering information from the SMART Web site, we developed best practices that are in use in every classroom.”

Kornicker explains how Don Pedro’s visual and kinesthetic learners benefit from the Notebook software technology, “Because it allows its users to move objects, words, and text, the whiteboard provides students with an accelerated acquisition of the skills necessary to learn our native language. Through the use of universally understood visuals, the board captures students’ attention. They are not just sitting there listening to a voice fill the room. Teachers are able to display images, words, and elements from Notebook’s Gallery collection on the screen. The Notebook software Gallery templates contain graphs, maps, and other universally understood visuals that teachers can quickly integrate into lessons. SMART’s ability to cross the language barrier has been one of the unforeseen benefits of the technology—something totally amazing.”

Kornicker’s drive to establish best practices was both a practical and strategic decision. “The ability to clear time for all of our staff to be trained simultaneously on the use of the interactive whiteboards was not feasible,” he says. “The best way to conduct professional development was to develop a self-explanatory type of learning process for our teachers. By doing so, we were able to instill in the teaching staff an understanding of how these tools could help prepare our students to compete in a technology-driven global market,
and the staff embraced the technology whole-heartedly.”

Kornicker concludes, “The SMART Board 660i interactive whiteboards are an incredible learning tool. By following the best practices we’ve developed during the past two years, we have created a completely wireless setup in the classroom. In our classrooms, the source of computing power is seamlessly contained within the SMART Board interactive whiteboard, which hangs on the wall at the front of the classroom where the traditional chalkboard used to be. Unlike a traditional chalkboard, however, the interactive whiteboard is loaded with high-tech capabilities.”

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