Are smart boards the norm in schools now? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Maybe I am just really out of it, but I was shocked when my DH came home from our son's kindergarten evaluation and told me that ALL of the classrooms (starting in K) have smart boards. Of course, I was like, "What's a smart board?" It's a dry erase board that is linked up with a computer, so everything the teacher writes on the board can automatically be computerized, like a big scanner type of thing. I would have expected something like this for jr high and HS, but elementary school? My DH was like, "look, kids don't even have to take notes!" I grumbled something about how that could explain why kids' have such poor writing skills these days. I don't know, maybe I am just being weird, but our school district is CONSTANTLY asking for $ via levies, fundraising, school fees, etc. so I guess I'm a bit annoyed that they are buying these smart boards, which to me, seem very frivolous. I was wondering if smart boards are the norm now for all schools. Personally, I was a bit shocked that each classroom had one of these, considering that they are several thousand dollars each, yet they are always telling us that they don't have enough $ for basics and esp now, since our community has been hard hit by the economy (GM plant is closing, it is the largest employer in our community, and a lot of other plants have closed too). More annoying yet, our school district, which used to be ont of the top districts is now just ranked as average. So, I don't understand why they keep saying that they need more $, when their ratings have dropped, even though they have more $ than ever.
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#2 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 10:32 AM
 
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My sons' elementary school has them as well, however, I don't think they are used quite as extensively. I know that in our case, the $$$ was donated to teh school for them.
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#3 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 10:43 AM
 
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We only have them in the middle school math class rooms. They were paid for through grants. They may have them in other schools in the district but we don't go there
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#4 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 11:09 AM
 
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Well, our school doesn't have them. At least in the elementary.
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#5 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 11:17 AM
 
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I'm not surprised that it is used in the k classes. It is pretty much the norm around here.

I work in an elementary school & we are in the process of installing them in all of the classrooms. Dd goes to a different school in the district & they are in the process as well. They are installing about 6/year in each of the 5 elementary schools here (don't know about secondary). My principal installed them on the basis of who would use them the most - each teacher had to write a few paragraphs about it & submit it to her.

It really is an excellent tool that can be used in the classroom. I'm a librarian & use it in the library a lot. It is so much more than a white board. The librarians in my district did a summer workshop writing lessons for us to use on the smartboard. It is engaging & interactive, much more than just having a computer in the room. I also teach computer skills & it's invaluable for demonstrating.


BTW - I just read an article about handwriting (mine is awful, I print most of the time & my script looks like a little kid when I try & a doctor's when I don't) & the author states it's more about the time devoted to other subjects & preparing for tests so there is less time and therefore less emphasis on handwriting skills. I'll see if I can find it.
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#6 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 11:21 AM
 
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I also wanted to mention that their funding (& technology in general) is usually set up a bit differently. They can be purchased through grants, but I know that around here (Long Island) that there are also matching state and federal monies for technology as well as cooperative buying initiatives that can make it cheaper for schools to purchase various technology.
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#7 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 12:19 PM
 
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My kids' school has smart boards - my DS's kindergarten class did last years, as did my DD's 2nd grade classroom - so I assume every class has them.

They are both now in a Montessori program (within the school) in the same 6-9 class and I did notice the smart board... but, I'm not sure their teacher will use it much considering how different their work is now. They don't have a bunch of desks, or worksheets, and she only occasionally does group lessons (which involve materials, nothing I can see using the smartboard for) so I am curious myself as to whether or not it will get much use. The last school my DD attended for half a year, also in this district, had Smartboards as well so I do think they are fairly common.

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#8 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 12:20 PM
 
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My son's school has one in every classroom for every grade. I am amazed at all the learning tools that his school has available. The days of chalkboards are over.

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#9 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 12:23 PM
 
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As the mom of a three-year-old who got here through "today's posts" I am horrified. I'm thinking living overseas (like in France, where they still have to write their term papers by hand) might be cheaper than private school.

How awful- you don't have to take your own notes? What's the point?

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#10 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 12:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by bu's mama View Post

It really is an excellent tool that can be used in the classroom. I'm a librarian & use it in the library a lot. It is so much more than a white board. The librarians in my district did a summer workshop writing lessons for us to use on the smartboard. It is engaging & interactive, much more than just having a computer in the room. I also teach computer skills & it's invaluable for demonstrating.
Can you tell me more about what exactly the smart board does that aids in teaching/learning? I guess I am not really understanding it to be more than a tool that transfers what the teacher wrote on the board onto the computer. Maybe if I had more details, I'd understand the rationale. My DH is all about gadgets, so he thinks it's great. I, on the otherhand, am not a gadgety type of person, so typically stuff like this doesn't appeal to me.
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#11 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 12:54 PM
 
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One bonus would be that kids with respiratory issues wouldn't have to worry about all of the chalk dust. But a regular white board would likely be fine!

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#12 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 01:13 PM
 
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Yep, in our district anyway. We are in the Seattle burbs. Both the elementary schools that my kids have attended have had them in all classrooms, but it took several years for that.

My kids are only in 1st and 2nd grade, so i have not seen them used extensively in their classrooms, other than for fun and during art instruction. However, when I've helped out in 5th and 6th grade classrooms it's amazing how nice it is. Not sure about this "no note taking" stuff though, that's a teacher thing I think. Our 5th/6th grade teacher always made the kids take their own notes (either by hand or on their little laptop thingy) as prep for jr. high and beyond.

Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean that every teacher will.
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#13 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 01:32 PM
 
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They had them in my DD's 5th grade class room and used it for all sorts of things. In our middle school, there is one in every class room.

The kids still have to take their own notes, but the boards have many, many other applications. Our district has tons of money (great tax base, few students).

This is not just a "teacher writes everything and then prints it out." The boards are interactive.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#14 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 01:44 PM
 
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All the classrooms at my ds's school have them (k-3) - they also have mac laptops for the teachers, a mac desktop in the classroom, ipods in each classroom and some sort of audio system in each one that helps everyone hear the teacher.

I was kinda shocked last year when we went to kindy orientation - I had no idea! But they are really cool and yes, our school uses all of them together and often.

In January my ds's first grade class each gets to put together their own power point slide show and the parents come in while they present to the class.

I think it's really great! I'm sure some teachers use them more than others, but I do think it's more of the norm now. At least at our school.

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#15 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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All the classrooms in my boys' schools now have them.

The teachers can show video clips and power point slide shows. The kids can move items around on the board like one would use a mouse. Necessary, no. But, pretty useful for clearly demonstrating concepts to the kids.

I don't imagine they would replace the need for note-taking anymore than copy machines did. I would expect teachers would still expect students to distill information and write their own notes, not simply provide paper copies of the information from the board.

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#16 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 04:01 PM
 
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I sort of doubt kids are taking notes in KG. But I'm still shocked at the prevalence of these "smart boards" which I had never heard of.

Let me tell you, in our school, I have never seen one. I suspect the overwhelming response here is either because people with smart boards are the ones reading the thread or because the MDC community is well above average in terms of income levels and therefore the kids here mostly attend schools in well-off school systems.
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#17 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 05:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mags View Post
Can you tell me more about what exactly the smart board does that aids in teaching/learning?
It combines the functions of a chalk board, computer screen, and overhead projector, so any of the things you could do on those, you can do on a smart board.

For example, every day last year, my DD's class did a "daily edit." The teacher brought up a screen with 5 sentences with errors, the kids found the errors, and marked them with proper editing marks on the smart screen.

Granted, a teacher could have written the sentences out on a chalk board, but this is faster. The teacher could have used an overhead and just had the kids tell her the changes to make, but this way the kids made the corrections.

Having a really big computer screen is great. It's what the kids used when they did power point projects (one of their options when they could make a poster, report, etc. on a topic).

Could they get by without it? Sure. Did they learn things while using it? Yes.

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I suspect the overwhelming response here is either because people with smart boards are the ones reading the thread or because the MDC community is well above average in terms of income levels and therefore the kids here mostly attend schools in well-off school systems.
Our school district is very funky. We have a great tax base because of commercial property, not because the houses are worth a lot. The school is about half minority and has a fairly large population on free/reduced lunch.
It's not a "because the kids have rich parents they have cool useless toys at school" thing. The school system is well off, but many of the families aren't.

It is a great school system though, and plenty of people who are comfotable financially chose it over neighboring districts with all rich white kids.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#18 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:15 PM
 
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It combines the functions of a chalk board, computer screen, and overhead projector, so any of the things you could do on those, you can do on a smart board.

For example, every day last year, my DD's class did a "daily edit." The teacher brought up a screen with 5 sentences with errors, the kids found the errors, and marked them with proper editing marks on the smart screen.

Granted, a teacher could have written the sentences out on a chalk board, but this is faster. The teacher could have used an overhead and just had the kids tell her the changes to make, but this way the kids made the corrections.
This is how our school uses the Smart Boards too... it doesn't replace the students having to write the stuff down on their own papers, just makes it easier for a teacher to demonstrate something.

Before the Smart Boards, our school used overhead projectors, and the cost of having to maintain the projectors, buying new transparencies and other upkeep related costs were kind of crazy. Teachers were going through at least 2 boxes of transparencies a month.
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#19 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:16 PM
 
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My kids' school almost leads the elementary schools in my district for kids that receive free or reduced cost lunches. But we are in the Seattle burbs, so comparatively we are in a higher income district. Our state does export tax dollars for parity across districts to some degree, but not completely.

Generally though, funding for technology is handled separately. There are many private and I believe some federal grants available to upgrade technology, which I am sure the smartboards fall under. (don't quote me on that though).
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#20 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:25 PM
 
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Not at our school - No.

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#21 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:35 PM
 
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Somedays when I read threads like this, I start to feel pretty old....the thoughts of "well in my day......." which isn't all that long ago, mind you. But really, there is a noticeable difference in quality of work at the university level....Seems like the over-30's turn in beautiful essays, take notes well, etc. The younger gen seems to lack the skills I see in the older ones. This is just in general though, not true for all. I wonder sometimes how much is lost when machines "do it all" for you....and how mesmerized a sixth grader was in my office recently when I showed her how to divide numbers....they use the calculator. It drives me nuts when there's news articles about how impoverished some elementary school is..."they have only 5 computers for the whole school to use!!!". Somehow all us old farts learned without them, and we weren't "impoverished"
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#22 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:41 PM
 
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I sort of doubt kids are taking notes in KG. But I'm still shocked at the prevalence of these "smart boards" which I had never heard of.

Let me tell you, in our school, I have never seen one. I suspect the overwhelming response here is either because people with smart boards are the ones reading the thread or because the MDC community is well above average in terms of income levels and therefore the kids here mostly attend schools in well-off school systems.
I read all the posts up to this one and had to respond. Although we live in a decent school district my kids do not got to well off schools. We actually live in one of the lowest socio-economic areas of the city but love the diversity. We wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the city. All the smart boards in the middle school are because the teachers want to provide opportunities to the students and write grant after grant for the kids. My kid may not be able to wear red shoe laces to school but he is getting a good eduacation with exceptionally caring teachers.
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#23 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:48 PM
 
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When I was pregnant, I worked as a computer teacher at an elementary school. Almost all the rooms had Smart Boards- and around 70% of the school received free or subsidized lunch- so that could give an idea of the income levels.

I don't know what the teachers did with them, but I found them very helpful. If the students were using the computers to type up a paper and I had to show them how to save, I just hooked my computer up to the smart board and showed them File --> Save As --> Find your teacher's file to save it in --> name your paper --> click save. The students could see my mouse pointer and see exactly where I was typing and clicking so they could do it themselves. It cut back on some of the confusion of how to save. I also used it to show HOW to add pictures, text, etc., to projects, powerpoints. I could show them how to type formulas into a spreadsheet. It gave them a visual and while there were still students who had a hard time following, I think it helped a lot of others who needed that visual help.

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#24 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 07:59 PM
 
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I work in a Title 1 school that was recently awarded a technology grant that includes SMART boards. I am excited to bring more technology into my classroom ( 6-8) in terms of video field-trips, interactive math games, word processing skills, etc. My students are AVID students and will most definitely still take notes, turn in written HW and other 'traditional' tasks. They will also be better prepared to learn with peers in HS who have been using technology for much longer than they have.
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#25 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 09:12 PM
 
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Our school district had just budgeted last year for all the elem class rooms to have smart boards. Our school district is weird--high COL, white collar, but the tax base is primarily residential, and not so many businesses. You'd better believe that our county officials are courting businesses, b/c our population is rising very quickly.

However, we had to cut like 10 percent of the district budget this year. I was livid that they still had the smart boards on the list--that is a nice thing, and a good, educational thing, but it's not a necessity. It is tragic that they have cut the music program in this county (not completely) but their first thought wasn't to cut the smart boards (they have now).
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#26 of 100 Old 08-31-2009, 09:19 PM
 
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I LOVE my SmartBoard. LOVE. I teach middle school science and math and I've used it with 3rd-5th graders too. It was attained through a grant, as is often the case with pricey tech stuff like that (so don't automatically assume the school spent tons of money on them). I use it all the time for interactive math lessons, as a screen for showing videos and presentations, as a way to save all the things I write on the board for when kids are absent or if I don't have enough time to finish in one class. I've never seen them used in K, but I'm sure there are a million things to do with them there too. But if the teachers aren't getting professional development on using these new tools then they probably won't make the most of them. Remember, though, that technology tools like this do NOT replace basic skills that are important for kids' learning, especially when you consider that our children are digital natives. That is, they are more comfortable acquiring information through all different types of digital media than most adults are. The skills that are neccessary to be productive in society today are different than they were just a short time ago. And that is ok! Spending less time gathering information because of instant access allows more time for processing and using that information.
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#27 of 100 Old 09-01-2009, 01:54 AM
 
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The school my daughters go to does have a smart board in every classroom. The PTA holds an auction each year and the school community tends to be very generous--last year they raised about 20,000 in one evening. They saved these funds until they had those necessary and provided the smart boards--they have also helped to fund a technology person in the building. The teachers use them a lot during math to demonstrate the activities children are going to do during a lesson. Last year when my older daughter was in 4th grade she did a presentation for us at the end of the year on the smart board which included videos, current writing and samples from earlier in the year she also measured angles on the smart board--it was amazing to watch her whip around the board so easily. That being said at her school she does do quite a bit of writing by hand and is capable of very legible handwriting when she slows down and pays attention to the quality.

Other schools in our district may have one or two smartboards in the entire building. The building in which I work has put money into projectors (this is typically out of the classroom budget which means the grade level team uses most of their money for the year on the projector) this allows many of the same functions as a smart board for a lot less money.
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#28 of 100 Old 09-01-2009, 02:41 AM
 
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So is there an Overhead Projector Graveyard somewhere? I'm kind of a Luddite (she typed into her laptop...) at least for schools, so I hate to see people get all excited about "technology in the classroom." But I can see how they'd be useful for some teachers. The other half of my brain thinks: would these teachers know what to do if the power went out for the day? (Other than send the kids home.)
So far as I know, none of our elementary schools have smart boards. They do have some thingamajiggy like a "document viewer" which seems like a fancy overhead projector that magnifies things. But I don't think it's connected to the teacher's computer. Now...back to making candles or somesuch.

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#29 of 100 Old 09-01-2009, 05:19 AM
 
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So is there an Overhead Projector Graveyard somewhere? I'm kind of a Luddite (she typed into her laptop...) at least for schools, so I hate to see people get all excited about "technology in the classroom." But I can see how they'd be useful for some teachers. The other half of my brain thinks: would these teachers know what to do if the power went out for the day? (Other than send the kids home.)
So far as I know, none of our elementary schools have smart boards. They do have some thingamajiggy like a "document viewer" which seems like a fancy overhead projector that magnifies things. But I don't think it's connected to the teacher's computer. Now...back to making candles or somesuch.
Well, big whup. Either way, power goes out and you're doomed.

I've worked with a SMART board and they are nifty. No, they are not the end all, be all. However, when used well (like any tool or equipment) then I can see their value.

Are they necessary? No. Can one survive without them? Yes.

However, in the advancement of technology (thankfully we can finally moved past those overhead projectors that were either always blurry or just a teacher writing on the screen with a dry erase), they are useful. And as another poster mention, they may be bought with grant money, so it's not exactly from "taxpayer" dollars.

That said, I would not expect a school to buy one in this regression time unless the funds were there there to justify it.
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#30 of 100 Old 09-01-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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Do people who seem to be a bit anti-technology realize that in all colleges, and many highschools today students use laptops? If I went to the lecture hall at my school without my netbook, I am almost positive out of 200+ people in the room, I would be the only one taking notes on paper. seriously. I can only imagine 10 years from now. It doesn't mean they don't know how to write a sentence -with a pencil, even SmartBoards, computers for everyone, and other advances are tools that make things a bit easier. And they are necessary b/c that is how the world is ran today. As a young adult looking for a job, you would most likely have to know how to use a computer, do a powerpoint presentation, and create as spreadsheet in excel. I'm just not understanding the annoyance with smartboards, especially since it's been explained by teachers how wonderful they are, and that they aren't necessarily coming out of tax payers $$ instead of funding art class.

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Refbacks are Off