School board considers Smart Boards

RANCHO SANTA FE — The days of teaching students with an ordinary white board are just about over. Enter the new Smart Board that is being considered by the Rancho Santa Fe School Board.
At their April 7 meeting, the board was given a presentation of the new technology by Jeremy Short of Smart Technology, about how these high-tech, interactive teaching tools work in the classroom.
The Smart Board works like a giant computer touch screen that is attached to a computer. It can be used just as a white board is used today, yet it has all the capabilities of a computer and more.
For example, if a class is studying South America, there are no more pull-down maps. A Smart Board allows teachers to not only show students a map, but they can take them on a virtual tour all the way down to the flora and fauna.
An extra perk is that the teacher is able to determine immediately, through students’ hand-held devices, who needs additional information or review.
At the end of the class, students can be tested. The Smart Board grades automatically, which goes right into the book.
“It saves teachers an hour of grading,” he said.
Most classrooms in the United Kingdom have Smart Boards and there area about 2 million in use today in schools worldwide, Short said. They are effective teaching tools because students get to interact with them.
“Kids go home and have the Internet, Xbox and iPods. At school they have chalk and paper. There is a disconnect there,” Short said. ‘“Kids get bored. It makes everything exciting.”
The Smart Board can put up a screen to help write music and then play it with whatever musical instrument chosen. Even coaches can do “a John Madden,” by displaying a football field and drawing the action or plays on it.
Students can do the math on the screen and well as interactive history lessons or be quizzed by paintings, as to which master created it.
It can be applied to any grade level on any subject, he said.
“It is limited only by the teacher’s imagination,” Short said.
Short said before these Smart Boards are installed in classrooms, teachers need training, which takes only a few hours. And ongoing support is offered.
“We don’t want to put technology in the classroom that is not being used,” said Lindy Delaney, superintendent of schools.
At the May 5 board meeting, the company will come back with costs to put the boards in the classroom. At that time the board may decide whether to buy the units.