I (HEART) SMART Boards: my experience thus far, at the age of 13
By Emily Sparago
Dodd Middle School, Cheshire, Connecticut
I can clearly remember the first time I was introduced to a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. I walked into my third-grade classroom on the first day in 2006; glancing around, nervously (as most students do on the first day), questions raced through my mind. Then I saw this …thing. It was similar to a whiteboard, but definitely wasn’t. Directly in front of it, was a black cart, packed with wires topped with a white projector.
Moments later, class started. We were then introduced to this incredible teaching tool – a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. I instantly became interested. I remember going home and researching the SMART Board. Immediately, I downloaded the free SMART Notebook collaborative learning software and began playing around with it, and teaching in front of the computer screen – to my dog – utilizing all of the tools and just being so pleased! That was my first experience of the SMART Board.
By the end of third-grade I hoped to myself, maybe there will be a SMART Board in the fourth-grade classroom! And there was, and in fifth-grade and in sixth-grade. Now, in my middle school, only a few of the classrooms have SMART Boards, but when I am in a class with one, I often get questions from my teachers as to how to fix a problem. I’ve become the “SMART Board girl” to my science teacher.
While I love worksheets and “old-school teaching,” the SMART Board has really changed my learning perspective. At school, I find a nice balance between worksheets and work from a book, and the technology part. PowerPoint’s are displayed with notes on this board, students give presentations, and it just gives those kinesthetic learners a better way to learn.
By fifth-grade, I just had to have one. Though my parents disagreed, I quickly got them to approve. And then, I started; I started raising money. I dog-sat for my neighbors, I sold chocolate bunnies (since it was Easter time), saved birthday money and allowance. When it came time to buy, I looked on touchboards.com. I chatted with an employee. Together, we chose the appropriate SMART Board. When it came time to order it, my father said that he would drive out to New Jersey to pick up the board – since the shipping cost was slightly expensive. That Thursday, when my father stepped out the door, a large 64” cardboard box arrived. Confused, he dragged the box in and opened it. Turns out, the representative I spoke to, “accidentally” put our order in for overnight shipping. I was so grateful when I came home from school that early summer day to see a SMART Board interactive whiteboard set up in my model classroom that we set up at home. I will never forget that June day.
Backtracking: I have taught many times since my first introduction to the SMART Board. The first time I taught was in fifth-grade, and I was very much excited. The teachers developed a discipline and reward system for the two classes. It was a money system where good behavior and tasks completed was rewarded with monopoly money, and poor behavior was dealt with by subtracting a few dollars. Since they gave us “prizes” in which we had to buy, I saved up my play money to buy a “Teacher for the Day” pass! This was the most expensive thing there – $100. And I had a great time teaching that day! I feel I did a really good job and that it was organized well. In addition, I was very lucky to have a great teacher that helped me plan the whole day. When that Friday in May came, I was asked to come in early (like teachers do) and set up and prepare. I incorporated a SMART Board activity to go along with the writing pieces we did about senses, and everyone loved it! That was my very first time teaching in front of a real audience.
Read my next post on June 23, when I talk about my passion for teaching (at the age of 13) combined with my love of the SMART Board, and my experience teaching college graduates – students that are 12 years my senior.