By Byron Ernest
If you’ve been following my posts, you’ve had the opportunity to learn about the SWELL classroom.
To recap, after I was named 2010 Indiana Teach of the Year, SMART donated a SMART Board interactive whiteboard to my school, and that is when it all began.
Lebanon Community School Corporation decided to use my classroom as a model for designing an interactive learning lab and for action research to help guide technology decisions for our school corporation. So, they gutted the science room and created an interactive agriculture science classroom equipped with SMART products where students could “learning to learn.” We now call this a SWELL (SMART Worldwide Effective Learning Lab) classroom.
An interesting point that I haven’t mentioned about the SWELL program in my previous posts is that all but two of the members of our varsity basketball team attended my Advanced Life Science courses this year, which take place in the SWELL classroom. As a believer in building strong relationships with students, I attended all but two games during the season (I was out of state for those). In this post, I share my story of the success experienced with the varsity basketball team in the SWELL classroom.
Because of their success in the SWELL classroom, the students of the basketball team suggested I teach Coach Hendrix, Lebanon’s Varsity Basketball Coach, how to use the SMART Boards so the team can do their film and game planning practices in my room. You need to keep in mind here that Coach Hendrix is an incredible coach, but not a teacher in the traditional sense. In other words he has another professional career other than being a professional teacher like me. That is where the differences stop, however. Because of my experiences with this team, I now understand just how great a teacher Coach Hendrix really is.
This post is not about teaching Coach Hendrix HOW to use SMART Boards. It’s more about Coach Hendrix teaching me WHY to use SMART Boards.
Coach Hendrix understands better than anyone why to use the triangulated SMART Boards (three boards in the room placed in a triangle with all three being able to be used individually or all displaying the same image). It was differentiated learning at its best to watch Coach Hendrix work his magic of having three learning stations set up with the film starting and stopping. At each station was a different line-up of players looking at different plays. Theses stations involved reflection on previous play of our own team and film critique of teams we would play in the future.
He was able to have all boards showing the same film and would circle, write, scribble on the SMART Board and each station had to interpret based on their role. Then he would have all boards showing a different film relevant to the lineup using a particular SMART Board. Additionally, plays could be drawn up in SMART Notebook collaborative learning software and each station could work through how they would react on offense and defense. Just what an effective classroom should be doing!
I tell this story for a couple of reasons. One, I believe in the power of a triangulated SMART Board configured learning space. And, two, I believe in the power of collaboration. I realize that not every school or teacher is going to have triangulated SMART Boards available, but aren’t they worth considering for learning spaces where deep differentiated learning is desired.
The experience proved to be valuable, insightful and opened new doors that I wasn’t aware of. And, after it all, I was thrilled to then be named Lebanon High School Men’s Basketball Honorary Coach. You can read more about this incredible journey and the experience on my own blog, Byron’s Babbles.
Finally, I leave you with this question: Who in your learning environment could you be collaborating with, learning from, teaching to use a SMART Board that then might just give you some SMART Coaching?
Other posts by Byron Ernest
Professional development for digital learning is a TALL order
A typical day in the SWELL classroom
Could you convince your school to put a SMART Board in every room?
A SWELL Place to be: The Story of a SWELL Classroom
About the Author
Byron Ernest is a multiple award winning educator and the Department Head for Agriculture and FFA at Lebanon Community School Corporation. Ernest was recruited to start the department in 2005, which now has four teachers and an enrollment of 586 students in grades 8-12, making it the largest Agriculture Department in the state of Indiana.
Ernest 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. Ernest is currently finishing his Ed.D. in Administrative and Teacher Leadership from Walden University.
Byron Ernest can be reached directly at email@example.com.