More than 500 Elementary Classrooms Have New Interactive White Boards for Start of School
Elementary teachers will have another powerful tool for learning and classroom collaboration when the new school year begins: interactive flat panels to replace projection white boards.
This summer, Rockford Public Schools installed 536 new smart boards in elementary schools, which will be ready for the start of school Sept. 2. These represent the latest phase of new smart board installation across the district. Middle schools got 375 new white boards in 2019. Next summer, 430 new smart boards will be installed in high schools.
Training for elementary teacher technology support specialists and instructional coaches was held Aug. 10 at Johnson Elementary School. They will then pass on their training to teachers. Educational Technology Director Susan Uram is hoping teachers get an early start and take advantage of four days of professional development on the new boards from August 23-26. Registration is going on now on Unified Talent.
Uram says the capability of the interactive flat screens -- a “smart TV meets white board” -- is impressive. With a browser in the board, both teachers and students can go online for videos and images, or use white board features such as grids for area and perimeter, dice widgets for math lessons, and clock widgets for learning time. There are built-in templates for elements such as Venn diagrams.
“All of this functionality lives inside the board, is stored inside the board and doesn’t require any kind of log-on or any kind of exterior device,” Uram said. “There’s a liberation of not being tied to the computer.”
The boards are also collaborative tools. Rather than individual learning on Chromebooks or iPads, students can truly learn together, interacting on the board. And teachers can save their lessons on the board, which makes it easy to not only recall the lessons but provide ready plans for substitute teachers.
Julian Jacques, a teacher technology support specialist and fifth grade teacher at Johnson, sees the potential in the board’s ability to gather multiple applications on one platform. It will end the juggling act with one hand needed on a computer to project lessons on the old white boards. “Everything is going to be in one spot,” he said.
As with any tool, though, there is a learning curve. “This is not just a glorified white board,” said Elizabeth Hand, an instructional coach at Washington Elementary School. “They have so much more to offer than that.” But you have to have someone to show you how to make the most of it, she added.
There is plenty of space available in the sessions. RPS 205 staff can sign up now on Unified Talent.
Mary Kaull has worked in communications for the Rockford Public Schools since 2012. She has lived in near northwest Rockford for 30 years and has two adult children. In her spare time, she exercises, reads, cooks and contemplates her growing pile of craft materials. She is fostering her son's hunting dog, Seamus.