Even boards are ‘smart’ at West Elementary

       They're the latest thing in all the new schools.

Using a "smart board," West Elementary teacher Denise Gutierrez leads a math lesson for her second-grade class. West now has the interactive units for all grade levels except kindergarten... and that's in the works.
Westside Pioneer photo
But West Elementary is catching up.
       The school now has interactive white boards (commonly known as “smart boards”) for its main classrooms in grades 1-5.
       “So all but the kindergarten,” Principal Terry Martinez said. ”But they are next.”
       The boards started making appearances on the Westside last year with the Jackson and Howbert additions.
       The electronic product basically replaces the traditional white (or chalk) boards. Teachers equipped with “interactives” can wield electronically sensitive markers that connect with the room's computer, allowing access to the Internet or specific curriculum software. And, rooms that have overhead projectors can display DVD and VHS visuals.
       Another variation equips teachers with an electronic tablet, so they can walk around their rooms and - perhaps in response to a student's project - enter information that is displayed for the entire class on either a smart board or a projection on a wall.
       According to Martinez, student benefits include the capability for “shared development of learning materials” and “interactive activity as a group.”
       When maps are on screen, they can be written on or zoomed in. In math, the board can compute the correct answer. Different computer applications can be used.
       A recent example at West was an President Obama speech, which the school watched. “We used the board to pause it and have conversations and write notes on the side, then resumed playing it,” Martinez recounted. “But the notes stayed there. You'd never be able to do that with a projector and white board.”
       Funding for the first boards last year came from the district, but this year Martinez was able to use part of a two-year technology-specific Colorado Department of Education grant (which lasts through the end of 2010-11) as a match for a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation to buy eight more boards.
       The principal's goal is to have all three (tablets, boards and projectors) for all his classrooms. Some have just one or two of those now. “We're over halfway there,” he said.

Westside Pioneer article