BY STEPHANNIE JOHNSON North Star Staff PARRY SOUND – The world of learning stepped into the future for three St. Peter’s School classrooms last week.Chalk and markers have been replaced by new SMART Boards in the three rooms. During Monday’s professional development day (PA Day) 13 teachers learned the ins and outs of the newest technology from John Palbom, an employee from Advanced Presentations.
The new SMART Boards installed at the school combine the technology of a computer with the simplicity of a whiteboard.The touch-sensitive display allows teachers to control applications right on the board using their finger or digital pen.Principal Dave McDougall said he was mesmerized by the board after meeting Mr. Palbom at a workshop last year.“I sat back and watched his demonstration for maybe a half an hour,” said Mr. McDougall. “They say it’s been known to increase attendance, believe it or not, in schools. In New Brunswick they’ve done studies around the board and they’ve found that student learning has increased with the SMART Boards.” Mr. McDougall said after installation, programming, and training, the boards have cost the school about $5,000 each.“The teachers that got them are technology-literate,” Mr. McDougall joked. “It’s a different teaching tool.”
Board to help teachers engage kids
It’s just another thing teachers can use in their bag of tricks,” said Mr. McDougall. “We don’t want everybody to just be teaching using SMART Boards, there’s still the chalk and the blackboard for a lot of things and in a lot of instances, it’s quicker. If you become efficient with it, it’s a good tool.”Although only implemented into classrooms last week, Mr. McDougall said students are enthralled with the new technology.“
The kids love it,” he said. “Even the little kids, the first week, they’re calling it the magic board. They’re really excited to draw on the magic board. The kids just love coming up to the board and writing with that pen, because it’s a novelty.”Special education teacher Anastasia Rioux has a SMART Board in her classroom and has been using it daily. “I’m working with a group of weaker math kids and I find it’s really good,” said Ms Rioux. “It’s more hands-on, it gets kids up and out of their textbooks. I will implement it into my daily (routine) when I’m working with really little kids with their reading and writing. You can use it like a scratch pad using ‘markers’, so the kids are excited, because they get to go up there and write on the board.”