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The best age for Smartboards?I teach writing to law students and use powerpoint and...

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karijohnson | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 7, 2008 at 1:45 PM via web

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The best age for Smartboards?

I teach writing to law students and use powerpoint and anything else to get their attention.  I notice they have more remedial writing skills training needs than their predecessors ( ten years ago).  They are also addicted, truly, to their computers, and really struggle with not being provided a "right" answer from me. There is no right answer in a legal argument, just a more well written argument.  The will power to tackle tough problems seems to be waning over the ten years I hav taught. My kids are in grade school and their school is going to promethean boards.  I wonder if too much screen "learning" accounts for the decline in end-stage ability in writing.  Any thoughts?

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted October 7, 2008 at 7:20 PM (Answer #2)

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The use of Promethan boards is subject entirely to the teacher.  I have an activeboard in my classroom, and I use it extensively for all of my classes (English 9, 10, and AP 12).  Just because I have the board doesn't mean we're engaged in screen learning.  In fact, I would argue the exact opposite.  The board has allowed me to easily access and project the millions and millions of thought provoking resources on the internet to my class without any hassle.  It has allowed my students more freedom in technology based projects.  I love speaking with my AP students about propaganda then finding examples through an image search and having the interpret it. 

The activeboard itself is really nothing more than a large chalkboard, projecter, and notepad all rolled into one.  How it's used is entirely up to the teacher.  If a teacher wants to "teach to the screen", he or she can certainly still do that without an activeboard.  However, the Promethean technology has allowed good and great teachers to become even better.

On a side question, why wouldn't you want your children engaged in using as much technology as possible?  The world they're going to work in will only vaguely resemble the one we currently work in.  The rate of technology growth dictates that we teach our children as much as we can and as quickly as possible.  Think about 2008 in comparison to 1998; how much different is a classroom (or anything in society) now than it was then?  I can't remember the last time I paid cash or check for something in a grocery store or gas station (actually, I can't remember the last time I actually went into a gas station to pay for gas!).  Ten years ago I only carried a cell phone on long trips for emergency purposes; now, I can barely function without it right beside me.  In two years, I'm willing to bet that no one will even own a cell phone that doesn't come with something extra (music, pda, etc).  In my opinion, we're obligated as parents and teachers to throw as much of the new technology at our kids as we can, especially in learning environments like school.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted October 8, 2008 at 7:35 AM (Answer #3)

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Many of my peers have received Smartboards in their classrooms, and use them regularly. I do not have one in my classroom, as the school could only afford a certain number, and I'm relatively new here. What I do know is this, however: Use of an activeboard is no indicator of teacher or technological proficiency. Here's why -- Among the teachers that I know who currently have a Smartboard in their room, many of them either a.) do not know how to carry out operations within the realm of other technologies, or b.) use the board as a substitute for actual relevant class content.

The big picture is this:Yes, the boards can be great tools, but only when used as a supplemental resource rather than a central point of curriculum. I may be chasing a few rabbits here, but in this age where we're told to implement technology left and right by so-called "experts," there is a great deal of imperative knowledge that is being left by the wayside as teachers turn to computers for content provision. In the end, it all depends on the teacher within the classroom.

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karijohnson | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 8, 2008 at 8:13 AM (Answer #4)

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These two posts really define the argument, I think.  Technology for technology's sake, because we are affraid of the future of technology so we immerse our young children in it, on the one hand  and teacher quality, the crux of good education, regardless of medium, alleviating ill uses.  But when you have technology in the hands of average teachers, without equipping them to use the technology with sufficient guidance, how do you know it is not developmentally harmful, like television?  I think the high schoolers are less affected by the down side of purely visual learning, but 4th graders still have much brain development to do, and when the switch is made to lots of screen time, you have to give up something, as the second poster mentioned.  So my question is not should we abandon all technology in education, my question is, does anyone have any sources to help determine the age appropirateness of switching to the screen for all major substantive lessons, math, language arts, writing, science and social studies?  My law studnets learning habits are hard to change, but my third grader's are still being developed. 

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 11, 2008 at 7:57 AM (Answer #5)

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Even television is a great teaching tool if used effectively.   The idea is to teach our kids to think and create on their own...not to fear the "incorrect" answer.  If we do not, our country will continue to suffer on the world market...more scientists come from Asian countries than the USA today.  That trend must not continue.  As parents, we MUST become more involved in our children's education and demand more of school systems.  I, for one, am thrilled that schools are incorporating more technology and making kids think for themselves.  Asking the questions why? how? and what if? are imperative. 

We parents must not be lazy...we must be involved and supplement wherever we find weaknesses in the education system.  Otherwise, there will be no jobs available for our students.  The jobs of the future will be increasingly more technological and specified.  With robotics, etc. there will be fewer laborer-type jobs.  Our country is simply producing a very large population which will be impoverished and goverment-dependent since school systems insist on teaching the same way as they did 20 and 30 years ago.  Teaching methods must evolve to accommodate the changes that are occuring right now and will occur in the future.  Stay on top of your child's education and do all that you have to do to ensure he/she is able to think, question, explore, and create on his/her own. 

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karijohnson | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 15, 2008 at 9:56 AM (Answer #6)

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Well, I am not afraid of falling behind the rest of the world because we teach young children without using computer screens.  I think computer screens make for lazy thinkers because children, and teens, carry the expectation that the screen will provide the answer for them, and they do not have to think.  That is the downfall of mass television consumption -- documented reduction in literacy rates, and a need to dumb down curriculum and testing, which began in the seventies.  I am looking for correlating brain development / reasoning skills development / abstract thinking ability with the appropriate use of technology.  My school district mngmt is afraid to say NO to technology because it fears the future as well.  But, the people who invented the internet did not "learn" as fourth graders through screen media.  The third grader who has a whiteboard classroom "loves" the whiteboard, but when asked what she learned on it, could not recall a single thing.  Are we "engaging" them or just entertaining them with these monitors?  Does anyone actually have data?  Thanks.

Kari

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted October 15, 2008 at 11:46 AM (Answer #7)

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I have mixed feelings about technology.  I, too, find problems that correlate between the technology onslaught and the decline of writing skills, to be honest.  I get more discouraged each semester when I find that students' writing abilities are declining, really.  I love what technology has done for our world, but it has definitely had its big disadvantages, as well!

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tschwertley | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 17, 2008 at 6:50 AM (Answer #8)

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I definitely feel that technology is responsible for the terrible writing my students produce (text speak in papers.....UGH!), but I feel that technology has its upside too. I use my LCD projector all the time, and my students (as well as the enviornment!!!) definitely benefit. There are FABULOUS webquests to teach lessons and United Streaming lets me have educational videos at my fingertips. Google Earth allows me to show the students where the pen pals they are writing to live.

I have to say that technology has enhanced my classroom.

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giraffeandahalf | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 18, 2008 at 11:45 PM (Answer #9)

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As a middle school teacher who has used smart boards and is dealing with a very technologically-literate group of children, I would would argue two things.

1.  I don't think that "screen time" per se affects end-stage writing.  I would say that writing is affected by the decline in time spent actually writing.  What I notice that bothers me among my students is a tendency towards abbreviation (I have actually gotten idk as an answer), difficulty in explaining their reasoning, and an unwillingness to write any more than the bare minnimum.

2. More and more teachers are focusing on teaching "Higher Order Thinking Skills" and Bloom's Taxonomy, which should lead to students being more used to being forced to explain themselves and their reasoning.  I have taught overseas, and noticed that those students were not as used to being questioned on things like the author's intent in writing a story,  but rather wanted a question that could be answered from a specific place in the story. 

I would agree with the poster above in that technology has definitely enhanced my teaching.  I used my smartboard to create graphs from the experiments that my students did during class. When they could see and create information that quickly and visually, they were a whole lote more quick to volunteer to come up and share their answers.  

On a lighter note, my lcd projector has saved me from having constant vis-a-vis marker stains on my fingers! 

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rdaugherty | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 19, 2008 at 12:30 PM (Answer #10)

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I do not believe that technology has led to a decline in the writing habits of students.  I have a Promethean ACTIVboard in my classroom and use it every day for a variety of topics.  My fifth-grade students are learning the writing process through hands-on investigation. I am able to teach the steps of the writing process to the students and then model the writing process to the students through the use of technology, without having to use an overhead and worry about the pens!  If the students and I have a question about something in our paper, we can research it on the spot using the activboard.

I think the real answer to the stated question is how are teachers using the technology, which is clearly the way of the world.  Web 2.0 is here to stay and we have to teach our students how to adapt to the world.  The key to using technology is to make it relevant and to use it to enhance the learning process.  Students MUST learn technology or they will be lost in the digital future.  Teachers must teach proper skills within the realm of technology.

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edrain | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 19, 2008 at 1:20 PM (Answer #11)

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I have been teaching middle school language arts for the past seven years and prior to that I taught kindergarten.  I have to tell you that I believe the problem in the lack of writing skills is two-fold:

 1.  teachers graduating from colleges aren't taught how to properly teach writing in the classroom, everyone is doing their own thing or just following the textbook.  In some schools they spital the writing curriculum so that each year the writing skills are being built upon.  This must be done at the administrative level and, unfortunately, it isn't being done at all schools.  Within being taught how to teach writing should also include the proper ways of eaching spelling, editing, and the tasks related to teaching writing (turn-around time, etc.).  As a graduate student in Reading K-12, I felt that not enough emphasis was placed on this.

2.  Kids chat all the time!  They use chat language and short cuts.  I've had students ask me if it's okay to use: u r and other abbreviations in their rough drafts, I don't accept it but I know teachers in the elementary level who do.  

Long story short, we all have to be on the same page and have higher expectations of our students.  They are VERY capable of learning how to write.  Technology has impacted this but not the kind being referred to here.  Smartboard, etc, are teaching tools nothing else...they are fabulous and should be used to teach writing skills! 

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nbixler7 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 19, 2008 at 3:42 PM (Answer #12)

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I agree that technology such as Smartboards, document readers, student blogs, etc. are great teaching tools.  Students respond to it - it's part of our world now.  As teachers, we have to keep up with the pace of the world. 

I also agree with edrain's post that we have to be careful about teaching students how to write.  It's true that many teachers do not know how to properly teach writing after receiving their teaching degree or credential.  It comes so naturally to us, but it's difficult to teach students, especially when our students use "chat and text speak".  I personally allow students to use that kind of writing when they take notes.  It's their own, self-taught shorthand!  Otherwise, I explicity teach writing step-by-step.  I start with building sentences, work up to paragraphs, then essays.  I work in an urban school district, and my students come away from my class knowing how to properly write.

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mindylu19 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 23, 2008 at 1:55 PM (Answer #13)

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I have been teaching middle school language arts for the past seven years and prior to that I taught kindergarten.  I have to tell you that I believe the problem in the lack of writing skills is two-fold:

 1.  teachers graduating from colleges aren't taught how to properly teach writing in the classroom, everyone is doing their own thing or just following the textbook.  In some schools they spital the writing curriculum so that each year the writing skills are being built upon.  This must be done at the administrative level and, unfortunately, it isn't being done at all schools.  Within being taught how to teach writing should also include the proper ways of eaching spelling, editing, and the tasks related to teaching writing (turn-around time, etc.).  As a graduate student in Reading K-12, I felt that not enough emphasis was placed on this.

2.  Kids chat all the time!  They use chat language and short cuts.  I've had students ask me if it's okay to use: u r and other abbreviations in their rough drafts, I don't accept it but I know teachers in the elementary level who do.  

Long story short, we all have to be on the same page and have higher expectations of our students.  They are VERY capable of learning how to write.  Technology has impacted this but not the kind being referred to here.  Smartboard, etc, are teaching tools nothing else...they are fabulous and should be used to teach writing skills! 

I agree with you as a former kindergarten teacher who now works with older students.  There needs to be communication between upper and lower grades on the issue of using "text-speak" on informal writing.  When there is not consistency across grade levels, the expectations for students are unclear.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted October 24, 2008 at 1:36 PM (Answer #14)

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I have been teaching so long (40 years) that I think I remember when writing was done with a chisel :)  I think we have to be careful about "idealizing" or "romanticizing" the past.  As far back as I can remember one of the constants in English education has been that students can't write.  I am teaching college English now, including a research writing course and an advanced composition course, and the problem remains.

I think students are capable of distinguishing between their formal writing vocabularies/style and their text message voice, just as they can distinguish between their spoken communication voice and their school writing voice (even though the school writing voice might not be that well developed).

I have long suspected that my students' writing problems come from two source:  they do not read enough, so they do not have experience with writing that can model for them, and they don't have the experience of clear thinking.  They write as they think, and neither of these produce what composition instructors are seeking.

Before we jump to blame technology for our students' writing problems, I think we need to open up the parameters of our thinking and do some serious research.  Eg. why not do a research project that compares the breath/depth of student reading to their writing to see if there is a correlation.  Then add in technology (of all kinds) and see if that variable affects anything.  There is a lot more that we have to know before we can reach conclusions ....

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eaglesaint02 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 24, 2008 at 1:58 PM (Answer #15)

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I teach in an elementary school and we have finally ordered a couple of the Smart Boards so other than the training I received, I haven't used them.  However, I think that some of the hands on applications will be able to reach the students that learn best that way.  Therefore, I am really excited to get one and use it in my Math class!

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kalkovac | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 24, 2008 at 2:46 PM (Answer #16)

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This is my first year teaching in a school that uses SmartBoards, and they are excellent tools for hands on learning experiences with students.  I would recommend them in any classroom!

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kalindas | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 25, 2008 at 8:16 PM (Answer #17)

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I taught in an elementary school the past two years in which every classroom had a smartboard.  I personally LOVED it, for many reasons.  It replaced my overhead transparency for all of the tasks that I would usually use it for, which meant no more cleaning transparencies sheets, no more running out of vis-a-vis ink and no more trying to make copies of what I needed to put on it.  I was able to make it very interactive by using the tools that are provided by the company to create the lesson plans.  These are like clip art, and can be easily found through a quick search within the software's program.  Therefore if was teaching a math lesson involving coins, I would "drag and drop" the manipulatives onto the lesson screen.  The kids loved to use it too.  I had a huge amount of interest in classroom involvement because my 3rd graders were excited about the technology.

On the topic of writing, from my perspective, i have noticed a decline in student's ability to write, as well.   I find that a lot of my peers do not teach writing consistently because it is not a significant score the "high stakes" testing scenario.   I personally love to teach my primary age students writer's craft and believe that they greatly benefit from it, test scores or not. 

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linzreilly | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2008 at 9:36 AM (Answer #18)

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I have been teaching middle school language arts for the past seven years and prior to that I taught kindergarten.  I have to tell you that I believe the problem in the lack of writing skills is two-fold:

 1.  teachers graduating from colleges aren't taught how to properly teach writing in the classroom, everyone is doing their own thing or just following the textbook.  In some schools they spital the writing curriculum so that each year the writing skills are being built upon.  This must be done at the administrative level and, unfortunately, it isn't being done at all schools.  Within being taught how to teach writing should also include the proper ways of eaching spelling, editing, and the tasks related to teaching writing (turn-around time, etc.).  As a graduate student in Reading K-12, I felt that not enough emphasis was placed on this.

2.  Kids chat all the time!  They use chat language and short cuts.  I've had students ask me if it's okay to use: u r and other abbreviations in their rough drafts, I don't accept it but I know teachers in the elementary level who do.  

Long story short, we all have to be on the same page and have higher expectations of our students.  They are VERY capable of learning how to write.  Technology has impacted this but not the kind being referred to here.  Smartboard, etc, are teaching tools nothing else...they are fabulous and should be used to teach writing skills! 

I teach at a fundamental elementary school in which the expectations of the kids are a bit higher than 'neighborhood' schools. Academically though, the students come from every level of learning. I've taught fourth, first, and I'm currently teaching second grade. 

In regards to writing, spiraling the curriculum is the best way to go... However, the administration has to make sure that this is being done in each classroom.  Our writing (supplemental) program is designed to build on the previous year's knowledge and learning. But certain teachers are not 'buying in' to the program and think their way of teaching writing is better. I actually teach writing and it is evident where each child came from- certain kids have no knowledge of the writing process or the vocabulary used to write.

The sad part is that you cannot force a teacher to do the program, which in turn hurts the kids. Writing needs to be taught in a consistent manner and it's unfortunate that it is not being done this way. We need to look at what is best for the kids in the long run instead of thinking that 'my way is better.'

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karensanchezedd | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2008 at 2:21 PM (Answer #19)

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I am writing my dissertation one-learning and learning styles. I find some students with specific learning styles do not do well in computer labs or online learning platforms, whether it be PLATO, Moodle, or Blackboard.  Some students need the face-to-face contact, so I supplement their learning by using their iPods or blackberry. Educational technology access and equity are an important topic. Educational leaders need to revamp their curricula, but don't always agree on the best policy. The 21st century students are our future leaders and many of them already surpass their teachers in technology. Professional development for teachers is necessary so they have the skills to teach from and use these educational platforms.

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blakmajik | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 8, 2008 at 3:55 PM (Answer #20)

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I am sort of balanced somewhere in the middle on this topic.  I learned traditionally, and I have found myself to have success in the classroom.  I believe that smartboards can be effective, but it should not be the entire class.  Paper and pencil builds work ethic.  Also, a student coming from a smartboard style of learning may have difficulty adjusting when learning has to take place without a smartboard.  But the exposure that a student can have to learning via smartboards is definitely an exciting experience.

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drgingerbear | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 6, 2009 at 7:25 PM (Answer #21)

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Students in today's classroom are digital natives. In many cases, they are more proficient with a computer than the teachers.Depending on how the smart board is used, it can be a valuable tool at any age. I used a smart board while teaching 3rd-5th grade students with special needs. My students would read a book and create a powerpoint slide shoe "retelling" the story with pictures. The students would then read their book to the kindergarten students. Each powerpoint was interactive and both classes really liked turning the pages of the book using the stylus. Some of the books were counting books and others were thematic (i.e. Earth Day).

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