Finding ways to keep students engaged in the classroom is a challenge for all teachers, especially in a society that revolves around technology.
Two years ago, Salem Community Schools decided to help with this issue by purchasing 11 Smart Boards for teachers who applied for one to use in their classrooms. Since then, the school corporation has continued purchasing more Smart Boards as money becomes available.
Dr. Jackie Arnold, who is the director of assessment and program improvement for the school corporation, said the first Smart Boards were purchased during the 2009-2010 school year. Teachers had to apply to the technology committee and say how they would use a Smart Board in their classroom. Arnold said the committee did research to find the best tool for what they wanted to do.
Last school year, a math grant was used to purchase Smart Boards for all the high school and middle school math teachers.
“And 100 percent of the eighth-grade students passed Algebra 1 this past year,” she said.
Arnold said she continues to pull money from different areas like Title 1, High Ability and After School funds, to purchase Smart Boards so that eventually, every teacher who wants one will have one.
This year, 21 new Smart Boards were purchased for the start of the 2011-2012 school year. The Smart Boards cost approximately $2,800, which includes the screen, the projector and the installation.
“Smart Boards are more engaging to today’s kids and has so much more available than books,” said Arnold.
Salem Superintendent Dr. D. Lynn Reed added, “It’s an interactive, educational tool.” She explained that the board can look like a computer monitor, projector, show video or power point.
The Smart Board is connected to a computer and uses an overhead projector to put the picture on a white screen that allows teachers and students to use their hands and other tools to interact with the computer.
Reed said there is even software available online that a teacher can pull from, which already has creative lesson plans that incorporates interactive activities for the students.
Jamie Malloy, an English teacher at Salem Middle School, was one of the first teachers to get a Smart Board in her classroom.
“The Smart Board has been a wonderful asset to my classroom,” she said. “When the application for the grant was emailed, I did not know anything about a SB.”
However, her husband, Duane, had used them in his classes at Indiana University Southeast and encouraged her to apply for one.
“I’m glad I did because I use it daily!” she said. “The information on the SB is hands on, colorful, interactive. The students love it and are engaged in the lessons.”
Malloy said she uses the Smart Board in a variety of ways. She uses it for writing examples, which allows students to highlight and underline important parts of writing.
“I can write over paragraphs and discuss introductory and closing paragraphs, how and where to use transition words in writing, etc.,” she said.
She uses it for reading to map out a story plot, as well as for characterization by writing different character traits of a character they are reading and write examples on the Smart Board.
“The students come to the board and write examples,” she said.
They can study unfamiliar words by searching on Google on the Smart Board to learn the meaning of words they come across. Students can use the Smart Board to display power points, videos, and websites.
“The SB is a large computer,” said Malloy. “Students can operate the links on a Web site/power point by standing and touching the SB.”
Malloy said her Smart Board has a document camera that allows students to display pictures, drawings and books under the camera and display them on the SB.
“I can also show video clips from the Smart Board,” she said. “For example, when we study interjections, I pull up a video clip from the old Batman shows. I will show a one-minute clip where word bubbles appear with interjections. WOW! BAM! POW!”
Malloy said she can be anywhere in the room and still write and manage the Smart Board and she can upload any document from her computer and display it on the board.
“This is a great way to review tests, quizzes and homework,” she said. “I could just go on and on!”
Emily Johnson, who teaches third grade at Bradie Shrum, does not have a Smart Board this year, but had one last year when she taught sixth grade.
“. . . Any chance they had to write on the board, all of the kids had their hands up! Even my struggling students or ones that did not usually participate wanted a chance to use the board.”
Johnson said she really misses the Smart Board in her classroom this year and said if she did have one, there are countless things that she could do, including scanning worksheets and writing on the Smart Board, as well as giving interactive presentations.
“Since the students are so into technology, they love when Smart Board technology is used in the classroom,” she said.