My live and interactive classroom sessions at ISTE… success on day 1!
By Allen Brooks
Well, as per usual, the SMART booth at ISTE 2012 looks very professional and of course, everything in the booth is great! For me…and my five great students that are here with me, the day went great. For those who don’t know what I’m doing here, I’ve brought five of my students from my middle school and I’m teaching lessons, just as I would do in my classroom, only it’s with a live audience. The purpose is to show how all of these great SMART products work together and truly engage students.
The first presentation was on technology. I think it went extremely well and the feedback from the visitors to the booth was great. I had my students working with Scratch, a wonderful, free visual and object oriented programming language. Their task was to apply what seemed for them to be simple math logic into a program that would allow them to make geometric shapes. The audience loved seeing Scratch in action, but the biggest “ah-ha” moment was when I had all of the students up at the SMART Board interactive whiteboard, at the same time, collaboratively working on two different programming solutions at the same time. I just loved it when people would ask, “How did you do that?” “How were the students all able to work together on the board?” The best part though was watching how absolutely engaged the students were…not that that was a surprise though! At the end of the presentation, SMART had a draw and one lucky winner received an SDC-330 SMART Document Camera!
My second presentation was on math and I’d like to give some thanks to my great friend Luis Morales for sharing some files with me. Students had to work with real-world mathematics and resolve scenarios up at the SMART Board. The interesting part was that Luis was completely right…not that this is too shocking, but he predicted how students would respond to various scenarios and I’m glad I did not bet against him. What I thought looked like a very simple lesson regarding money and making change, actually turned out to be quite powerful. Students learned that doing the math is not enough, but rather they had to consider how they would “use” the math in a real situation. At the end of this presentation, three lucky participants were chosen and they each received a full license for SMART Notebook Math Tools software.
The third presentation of the day started off on time, and I was rather disappointed in the turnout at first. But then it only took a minute or two and then the place was rockin’. Standing room only, loads of people watching the students learn about electricity, CFL vs. Incandescent bulbs and more. My students were quite engaged, got up to the board to solve some problems and I could not have asked for a couple of better questions from them as the answers were already anticipated in the presentation and that even looked better.
Once again, a big thank you goes out to another good friend and fellow SMART Exemplary Educator, Dave Effron, for sharing his science lessons with me. The audience had a great question for the students and each of them had a chance to speak frankly. The question went something like this, “As you are all digital natives, born with technology all around you, what is it about what you’re doing in Mr. Brooks’ class that is so different and that makes this learning environment experience unique for you…and this could be positive or negative.” Well, thank goodness I had a lot of money with me so I could pay off my students for having the perfect answers! Not only were their answers great, from the heart and all positive, but each of them felt comfortable enough to share them with the audience too. When I was 12 years old, I don’t know if I could have done that. At the end of the presentation, SMART gave away any SMART Response interactive response system the winner wanted…and she jumped at the chance to pick up a Response XE system.
All this and it was just the end of the first day. Who knows what will happen today, on day two! — Allen
Allen Brooks has been a working professional in the field of technology for over 25 years. An entrepreneur at heart, Allen owned and operated a successful international software and hardware development company. Searching for his next challenge, his passion brought him back to school where he earned a teaching credential specializing in technology. Even before having completed his credential, Allen had the opportunity to get deeply involved in setting up and helping develop a technology program at a new middle (secondary) school. There, he found, setup and became addicted to the SMART Board. Shortly thereafter he became a SEE (SMART Exemplary Educator). Just recently his school earned the honor of being a SMART Showcase Elite School. Allen is an avid traveler, loves foreign languages and cultures, rides his Harley Davidson whenever and wherever he can and practices martial arts where he has earned a black belt in TaeKwondo.