Could You Convince Your School to Put a SMART Board in Every Room?
By Byron Ernest
I am excited to write my first post as a guest blogger for the EDCompass Blog. For my first post I thought it would be appropriate to start off by telling you a little about my journey with technology and my experience working with the teachers, administrators, and school board members in my high school to put a SMART Board interactive whiteboard and SMART integrated technology in every room.
In a perfect world, time would be spent researching every piece of technology that is available and how it could be used to enhance student learning, but if your world is like mine that will not happen. Unfortunately, those in charge of renovation projects, like we are in the middle of right now, seem to have more important (allegedly) priorities than how classrooms are ultimately equipped. This sounds as if I am being critical (ok, I am a little), but the point here is as teacher leaders we are responsible for being experts on both curriculum and the technology necessary to facilitate effective student learning. Then we must step up and advocate, using student data, for the technology necessary to facilitate and enhance effective student learning.
Recently, I had to be just such an advocate and leader. As I mentioned earlier, my school is doing a $30 million renovation. Luckily, I was able to use my experience as a SMART Exemplary Educator to influence how our classrooms will be equipped. I say lucky because we could very easily have put cheaper, less capable technology in every room had we not spent time working with teachers, educating our school board, and had student data to support what the right technology can do to enhance learning.
My experience with SMART Technologies started when SMART provided me with a technology package for being named 2010 Indiana Teacher of the Year. Because of SMART’s generous donation of SMART Board technology (SMART donates these packages to all State Teachers of the Year each year), my school decided to use my room as a model for designing a learning lab, and for action research to help guide technology decisions for our school corporation. The decision was made to gut the room, which was formerly a science room, and start from scratch. The goal was to design an environment where students use the technology to carry out collaborative lessons not being taught by me, but being facilitated by me for student managed learning. The vision was to have an interactive agriculture science classroom equipped with SMART products where students were “learning to learn.” Therefore, we kept this in mind when designing our model-learning lab, which I call the SWELL (SMART Worldwide Effective Learning Lab) classroom. In my next post to the EDCompass Blog I will go into more detail about the process we went through designing the SWELL classroom.
Ultimately, it was our research and student data that convinced our administration that SMART Boards and SMART integrated technologies was the way to go in every room. There is compelling data that points to improvements in student achievement due to effective teaching and the effective use of technology to enhance instruction. We have three years of data related to student achievement on the Purdue University End of Course Assessment for the Advanced Life Science (ALS) courses being taught by me at Lebanon High School for dual credit. From the 2008-2009 school year to 2010-2011, increases in student scores were shown of 3.01%, 8.91%, and 9.46% in ALS – Plants and Soils, ALS – Foods, and ALS – Animals respectively. It should be noted that the SMART technology was added during the 2009-2010 school year.
Once the decision to equip all rooms with SMART Technologies was made, then the planning for training began. It is always said that technology should not drive instruction and learning. I totally agree, but the two cannot be mutually exclusive. By making classrooms SMART integrated, teachers have the tools necessary to facilitate effective learning. The teacher is ultimately responsible for choosing the tools available to fit both pedagogy and individual student learning needs.
About the author
Byron L. Ernest
SMART Exemplary Educator
2011 Smithsonian Institution Diffusion Award Winner
2011 Purdue Ag Alumni Certificate of Distinction
2011 Inspire College Mentor Education Mentor Award
2010 Indiana Teacher of the Year
2010 Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Outstanding Agriscience Educator
Department Head – Agriculture/FFA
Lebanon Community School Corporation
510 Essex Drive
Lebanon, Indiana 46052
765-482-0400, Ext. 21401
Ernest’s Blog: www.byronernest.wordpress.com
Follow Ernest on Twitter: @ByronErnest
Byron Ernest is the Department Head for Agriculture and FFA at Lebanon Community School Corporation. Lebanon’s Agriculture Department is in its seventh year of existence. Ernest was recruited to start the program which now has four teachers and an enrollment of 586 students, grades 8-12; the largest in the state of Indiana. The flagship courses of the program, taught by Ernest, are the Advanced Life Science courses in animals, plant and soil, and food science. These are dual credit courses with Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Ernest is leading the charge in his School Corporation to create an environment of a true learning organization with a culture of collaboration, inquiry, and shared learning. He is also instrumental in molding Lebanon High School into a school that uses standards based assessments and achievement reports to improve student achievement. As a SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE), Ernest is now leading the charge to turn traditional classrooms into innovative 21st Century learning environments he calls – SWELL Classrooms (SMART Worldwide Effective Learning Lab). In addition to Ernest’s mission statement – “I use rigor, relevance, and relationships to steward high student achievement; he has adopted the following action statement – “I am designing and developing a learning environment that integrates various technology tools and applications, connects technology usage to content area, and embeds technology into assessment strategies.”
Furthermore, Ernest was named the 2010 Indiana Teacher of the Year. This was the first time for an Agriculture Science Teacher to be selected for this honor. Most recently he was named the inaugural winner of the 2010 Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation Outstanding Agriscience Educator Award. He holds two Bachelor of Science Degrees from Purdue University in Agricultural Education and Animal Science, and a Masters in Science in Agricultural Education, also from Purdue. Byron is currently finishing his Ed.D. in Administrative and Teacher Leadership from Walden University.