Lauren Parker and four other kindergarten teachers at Weddington Hills Elementary School would like to thank the donor who anonymously paid for their classrooms to be equipped with SMART Boards.
The $21,000 donation paid for the final five interactive whiteboards the school needed to have one in every classroom.
Technology has pushed aside relics like the chalkboard and whiteboard for the 21st century version, the interactive whiteboard, or IWB. Similar in appearance to a standard whiteboard, an IWB is connected to a computer and projector, which enables a teacher to use all kinds of teaching tricks.
The boards are touch-sensitive, which means students can touch them to make things happen. For example, if the teacher puts pictures of fruits and vegetables on the screen and asks students to separate them into categories, students can place their fingers on an image of an orange or carrot and move it to its proper place.
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This technology is fairly new to the classroom but probably familiar to anyone who has used a touchscreen computer, such as a self-checkout register in a grocery store.
Weddington Hills Elementary Principal Janet Smith said the school started purchasing SMART Boards, a brand of interactive whiteboards, two years ago with the plan of having one in every classroom within five years. The PTO paid for seven. Title One funds, for which the school qualifies, allowed for more. However, money ran dry this year before providing IWBs to all classrooms in kindergarten, the last grade to receive them.
Smith said an individual who asked to remain anonymous paid for the rest of the IWBs after finding out the school ran short and couldn't supply kindergarten teachers with the new technology.
"We were shocked and excited," she said of the generosity. "We never dreamed we would get them this fast."
Teachers at the school who already have SMART Boards put them to use from first to final bell.
The school's morning newscast is broadcast over them. Math problems are solved with the stroke of a finger across the board.
IWB accessories such as the Senteo, which looks like a remote, can be given to each student for answering questions while the interactive whiteboard graphs their results, just like an audience voting on a game show.
"It engages the children," said Linda Anderson, a second-grade teacher who received her SMART Board last year. "It's light and color and action."
She uses hers frequently to make game boards that reinforce lesson content. "It's a very nonthreatening way to learn."
"Our kids today are used to technology," Smith said. "It's a better way to reach them."
Parker agrees and has been counting down the days until she received her SMART Board.
"I can think of ways I can use it with language arts, science, math and art," she said. "We will put it to good use. We are really thankful."