During this spring break, I’ve taken advantage of the overwhelming number of teachers in my boyfriend’s family. Literally, they’re all teachers. His dad? Former principal and current 5th grade teacher. Mom? Third grade teacher. Brother and sister-in-law? Third and Sixth grade teachers. In my numerous discussions with these fellow educators, one of the topics that was brought up what the technology that they use in classrooms. (Granted, it is important to keep in mind that they are all elementary education teachers, so their uses of any technology in a classroom can be vastly diverse from my own as a high school educator. However, I feel any advice from any kind of teacher can always be used as helpful.) In my discussions with his brother and sister-in-law, I found some encouragement and some information that was slightly discouraging. We’ll start with the bad. When discussing what technology my various courses are having me implement into my own future and potential classrooms, I found that both Jackie and Jarod agreed in their ideas of the uses: their school doesn’t enable much technological freedom. Both of them teach at a public school in my area. The school is not financially struggling and has not been marked as an academically struggling school by state standards, but it is also not a very wealthy area. This school cannot afford to purchase laptops for the students, let alone pricey Macbooks and all of the interesting technology that comes along with them. After learning so much about using iMovie and Garageband’s Podcasting in classrooms with students, it’s a big letdown to hear that many teachers aren’t even given a chance to use these advances. I’ve put a great amount of time into researching and applying this technology, so I really hope schools begin to find ways to enable teachers to incorporate these tools in their classrooms. .
On a more positive note, one new addition that I did find that these two educators were excited about and very proud to use is the SMART Board. Essentially, the SMART Board is an interactive, electronic chalkboard that can be used to advance learning in any grade level. From my various research and what little information I’ve learned from other current teachers, it makes lessons more interesting for students and teachers, making personal interaction and hands-on learning more practical. Honestly, my personal exposure to the technology is very limited. While in grade school and high school at my small private schools, I never even heard of the technology. I truthfully didn’t see the technology until last year while completing my student observation. My host teacher was one of the first three in the school district to receive the technology, but I unfortunately was only there for its physical installation and didn’t get to see it in action. I became discouraged in my early research because the youtube videos I watched and the recent articles I read, truly only applied SMART Boards in elementary classrooms, or math and science classes.
I did, however, find two videos that provide the basics and “SMART Boards for Dummies” explanations of the technology:
As I dug a little further though, I found a little more information as to how Secondary Education English teachers can actually apply this technology in our own classrooms. The SMART Boards Interactive technology website obviously provides the most accurate and descriptive information as to how to use and apply the technology. The website enables educators who use SMART Boards to access training resources, see already created lesson plans for almost any grade level and area of study, visit schools in their areas to see the technology in use firsthand, and keep in touch with others in their field who are utilizing the technology.
I was really excited when I specifically came upon the section lists dozens of provided lesson plan ideas, even those specifically for teachers in the English field. These lesson plan ideas encouraged English teachers to use the technology to help students visualize and practice proper editing techniques, go over review sheets, or make fun review games. I learned that this technology can be used in conjunction with Word, Paint, and other computer programs, giving students the opportunity to see grammar techniques and changes applied firsthand and in a more interactive manner. By using SMART Board like a PowerPoint tool, teachers can provide students with basic information, while adding personal notes as classroom discussion progresses. One of the most personally appealing lessons I stumbled upon was the one focused on improving students’ public speaking abilities. This was always (and sometimes still is) a tough area for me in high school, but my teachers never really provided any focused instruction on the topic. By utilizing the provided SMART Board lessons and technology for this particular area, students can become more comfortable as writers and speakers, encouraging pride and confidence in their work.
Again, I’ll reinstate that my personal knowledge of this technology is very limited and all of my information is going off of websites and youtube videos. Using that as a disclaimer, I’m personally becoming very interested in SMART Boards and really hope I can soon provide you guys with an updated blog containing more information about this technology. I would love to use any opportunities I can to make my lessons more interesting and fun for my future students, so I can promise you guys I’m going to keep looking in to this. Any information, personal experiences, corrections on my information is totally welcome!!