November 27, 2010 in Washington Voices

Technology added to teaching

University Elementary students using Smart Boards in classrooms
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Teacher Tori Hendricks, left, walks fifth-grader Sebastian Jansen through a problem on the new interactive Smart Board in her classroom at University Elementary in Spokane Valley Nov. 16. The Smart Boards come with curriculum software that displays and reads problems, then allows users to use a virtual marker to work on the problem on the board.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Students at University Elementary School in the Central Valley School District have been using a new tool to learn this year, thanks to a grant the school received last spring.

Principal Sue Lennick applied for a grant through Lowe’s Home Improvement. She asked for $5,000, and the company gave her $7,000. The school used the funds to purchase seven Smart Boards, which are now used in all third, fourth- and fifth-grade classes at the school.

“It’s kind of like one of those touch-screen computers,” said fifth-grader Sebastian Jansen.

He’s right. The Smart Board hangs on the wall and a projector transmits an image from the teacher’s desktop computer onto the board. Sebastian’s teacher, Tori Hendricks, can go online to the students’ math curriculum website to discuss each day’s lesson.

“Your finger becomes the mouse,” Hendricks said. Not only can she click on links to different pages on the Smart Board, but she and her students can use a special pen to work math problems on the board.

The class can also listen to different voices read the math problems to them.

“We call her our lady friend,” Hendricks said, although sometimes the voice is male.

Another aspect of the Smart Boards is that Hendricks can print out everything the students do during the lesson. If a student is out sick, printouts are available when they come back. Parents also have access to the website to help their students with homework.

While Hendricks is teaching, the students are enthusiastic about a chance to get up and use the board. They raise their hands hoping they will be picked to solve math problems on the board.

“This has been a great way to keep the kids even more engaged,” Hendricks said.

Melanie Rose, spokesperson for CVSD, said there are many schools in the district that have Smart Boards, and each building has come up with the funds to get them.

Lennick said the Parent Teacher Association at University Elementary put up some matching funds in order to get the grant. Her goal is to have them in all of the classrooms at the school.

Last week, two representatives from Lowe’s visited Hendricks’ classroom to see how the students are enjoying the Smart Boards.

Steve Koerner, a commercial sales specialist from the store on Broadway Avenue, told the class that Lowe’s has given out a few grants in the district, some to plant seeds in an outside garden at Chester Elementary School and other outdoor projects. He said this grant for University provides for a different kind of growth.

“We plant seeds in your brains for future use,” Koerner said.


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