I can't take credit for this question. I read this article by Rosita Force and thought it would make a great discussion question and would like your thoughts.
"Smartboards, activity boarss, ELMO'S, Macbooks, Senteo Clickers, iPods - these are a few items that distinguish a 21st Century classroom from one stuck in the darness of the 20thCentury. But do they gaurantee our studsents will be able to solve 21st Century problems?"
So what do you think, Do Smartboards make smart students?
A good teacher is a good teacher and good teachers facilitate learning. I don't like the idea of a "smart" v. "non smart" student. An effective teacher is going to make every effort to reach her student.
I think a better question is - do smartboards create more effective teachers? My answer being - it depends what you do with it. I taught several days of Smartboard PD in a school recently that had these boards in every classroom. Every single classroom. I ended my training there seeing very clearly that some students were going to have amazing, dynamic, student directed, interactive learning experiences and others were not BUT I wouldn't go so far as to say that those teachers who chose not to use the boards were automatically going to be less effective than those who chose to use the boards.
Smartboards (interactive white boards) are tools to help teach students. It does not make smarter students. However, when used correctly, students are more engaged in the lesson. If they are more engaged and interested in the lesson, learning should be increased. I have found that even students with ADHD are able to pay closer attention to the lesson. As teacher of learning disabled students, my students do much better when they are able to have hands on lessons. I can create a hands on lesson for almost any subject using the interactive whiteboard.
You might be interested in this web site on Thinkfinitiy.org: http://thinkfinity.org/student-interactives It consolidates all of the Thinkfinity interactives in one URL.
Enjoy, and spread the word.
The link on Thinkfinity.org's site to the interactives http://thinkfinity.org/student-interactives appears to be working fine. Hopefully, the link for you works now. It is a phenomenal resource where teachers can find so many hands-on activities to use for various subjects and grade levels. I was thrilled when Thinkfinity added this page. It's so easy to use links there versus going to the partner sites and locating their interactives. Both ways work, but the index is awesome!
Do better hammers make better houses?
The question is phrased incorrectly. I know that I when I have better tools in the classroom, I can teach a class faster and with greater comprehension and retention. I go as far as to say I can teach the class up to 50% faster, regardless of what the topic is.
The question immediately brought to mind Google's WAVE technology which seems like an even better "digital whiteboard." But I can't help wondering why we seem so fixated on the "clever paper metaphor", rather than then explore completely different mechanisms. Like the semantic web, which seems well suited to make what is being learned more tangible. In the "civic technology" (that I am looking for help in designing,) the units of curricula are broken down into a list of related concepts that children work together to organize into a self-consistent ontology. In essence, instead of asking them to learn the material, it asks them to teach it to the computer.
I have worked for 3 years with only my computer in the class room. After much pleading, I received 3 student computers and a Smart Board yesterday. I am very excited. technology is not a phase, it's the future. Do I think hardware make a great techer; absolutly not. What I think is that great teachers will take the time to learn and use whats available to them to the maximum levels. They will reflect on what works and what does not. They will see their part in a bad day and look for solutions to issues they have going on.
I love the responses to this question. My thought is that technology supports my instruction. How I incorporate the SMART Board into my lessons helps my students to be more successful. Without it, I would use other techniques. (Our school is getting a second board for our other computer lab, and I am fortunate enough to have an airliner in my room.) SMART Boards aren't going to make students more successful or smarter, but the level of engagement I witness even from my most active students is undeniable. When I taught K-2 singing, dancing, pantomiming, etc... was acceptable. My fifth grade students however, are concerned about being cool. The SMART Board assists me by keeping a level of activity and engagement during whole class lessons that would otherwise be difficult to pull off.
Cathleen, you are batting 1,000 today. Your statement, "The SMART Board assists me by keeping a level of activity and engagement during whole class lessons that would otherwise be difficult to pull off," is a prime example of what students bring to the classroom now. They bring the "gaming concept!" They LOVE video games and anything animated, so teaching interactives on your "Smart Board" is a perfect fit for your students!
Just saying that Smart Boards make kids smarter is a stretch. I think it would be more wise to say that in the right classroom SmartBoards can improve student learning. So in a sense, it would make them smarter. It is up to the teacher in that classroom to properly use that technology though. I've seen classrooms in my building where they are used as over glorified projection screens and that is it.
When you can get students coming up to the board, responding to question, drawing, navigating, and contributing to the overall lesson; are you going to have smarter kids? Probably, but more likely you are going to get them there more so because they are involved and interested in what you're teaching.
I don't beleive that smartboards actually make students smarter, but they are a tool that when used correctly can make learning more fun. Smartboards allow students to have more hands-on opportunities in the classroom. It allows students to be more actively engaged in the lesson, which I beleive will help them retain the information and help them succeed in the long run. They are a GREAT tool when used correctly.
I do not think any technology is going to automatically create smarter students. It can catch their attention, spark their interest and pique their curiosity, but without facilitation, instruction and guidance, it will not enable very many to expand their knowledge or help them to succeed.
Thanks for your comment, and you make an excellent point, "without facilitation, instruction and guidance, it will not enable very many to expand their knowledge or help them to succeed," hopefully technology driven teachers will engage our students and excite them to learn a different way..........their way......the digital immigrant way.........and the plus side is that teachers will still keep their jobs!
William is echoing the words of John Dewey in his 1913 book Interest and Effort in Education. Dewey said, even then, that if we bring "exciting" things into the classroom, it does pique their interest, but can create a "Christmas Eve" effect - where the excitement level is high, but behavior and depth of learning are not at their optimal levels. Most classrooms in my district have Promethean boards. We love them, but we also realize that they aren't the silver bullet of teaching that many people promote them to be. Games and interactivity are wonderful at times, but we do have to balance that with our own understanding of good teaching techniques and individualized instruction. As one of my collegues recently commented, "With state testing and all these other accountability measures in place, there comes a time when all the games and smartboards in the world don't help anymore. We do everything but stand on our heads to get their attention, but when the time comes for the test - there is no sound, no color, and no moving around the room. At some point we have to teach them to focus on a peice of paper."
In some ways smart technology does help students learn in a way that is relevant to the "outside" world. But we must remember that some things never change - it is the transition from having an "exciting" tool that students are interested in, to true ability to use the technology for deep understanding that must happen if there are to be any long term benefits.
I believe the Smart Board is a tool for me to use. A student's success depends on whether or not they are interested in and actively engaged in learning. Smart Boards can be used in a classroom for students who have a variety of learning styles.
Personally, I teach kindergarten and last year used my board everyday and sometimes several times each day. I did this to reinforce learning and to mix things up to make it more fun and engaging. They had so much fun and stayed engaged for longer periods of time when we used ours.
Since last year was my first year using one, I had a difficult time finding quality and engaging lessons. I have spent my summer looking for new ideas and resources to continue to help my students be successful.
The bottom line is that a student's success depends on how engaged they are in the lessons, the teacher's delivery, and how much support the student has from their family and extended family. All this ultimately shapes the students attitude and interest in school. I believe having the technology available is tremendously helpful; a professional educator would deliver an excellent and engaging lesson regardless of interactive board availability.