I have been busy writing grants the past few weeks to benefit my classroom. My district has set aside money for teacher grants, and I want to put it where it is best deserved, but of course, my focus is literacy above all else, so maybe I am biased. The majority of the high school math teachers in my district have a Smartboard in their classrooms, but we have not implemented this tech tool in the English department yet. Because I also serve as an Instructional Technology Specialist, as well as an English teacher, some of the math teachers have asked me how I would use the Smartboard in a classroom. I cannot answer this question because I do not have one, and I have never used one, very jealous too!
I decided I needed to know if a Smartboard is a worthy technology tool to have in an English classroom. Would it benefit my students or would it just be a great gadget that might engage my students for awhile? I started my research. I started with Dana Huff. You can view her posts related to a Smartboard here.
Then I moved to the English Companion Ning. Many resources for using a Smartboard in an English Classroom are posted on the ECN. Just go to the website and search for Smartboard or click on this LINK to read one of the forum discussions.
Next, I started to search for software that I could use with my mythical Smartboard to assist my students in engaging, interactive lessons, and I discovered Smartboard enhanced software lessons provided by Prestwick House. After reading what my students could do with the enhanced lessons, I knew that I really wanted to try this out. I googled reviews and decided I had to have a Smartboard to use with the Prestwick House software. I am not a traditional student myself. I need to move around, and I am very visual, so just sitting and listening to a teacher go on and on is much like Charlie Brown’s teacher, blah, blah, blah, and I have no idea what she said. Poetic justice has given me students much like myself. I deserve every one of them. They need to move and see what is happening. I know that technology is just a tool; it is never the complete answer, but I do believe that the ability to drag clauses, parts of sentences, punctuation, and the like around on a Smartboard is not only engaging, but it will make a difference in those students who have to move and create.
I wrote a grant to ask my district to provide me with a Smartboard and software to engage my students in class. I am not sure if it will be considered one of the worthy grants they receive, but even if it isn’t, my district has given me the opportunity to request this money for my classroom. Every district across America should earmark money for teachers to write up their requests and explain what technology tools they want to use in their classroom and how it will benefit the students. Our district form is just a short four part form and well worth filling out. I can only hope that districts across America are also implementing this strategy. America needs to ask teachers what they want in their classrooms: How will they use it, and how will it benefit students? I am so impressed with the teachers that I follow on Twitter and blogs that I believe if districts across America implement Bryant School District’s process of asking teachers what do they need and how will they use it, school districts will find that they have teachers who are creative and innovative when it comes to finding ways to engage students, and this is what will make the difference in America’s students.