Student thinking front and center
By Cindy Emmons
First-grade Teacher and SMART Exemplary Educator
Coyote Creek Elementary School
Douglas County School District
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
“My role as a teacher is to step aside and let my students do the talking and creating in the classroom. I watch, evaluate and plan the next steps in my students’ content acquisition and enjoy seeing them owning their learning”.
I have been teaching with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard for four years. My role as a first-grade teacher is evolving more into coaching and providing learning opportunities for my students rather than lecturing. Every day I ask myself, “Who is using the Pen Tray more – me or my students?” Because digital-native students are doers and creators, not watchers, I make it a priority to have my first-grade students use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard more than I do to share ideas.
For example, when my students are learning about word families, I infinitely clone the word family and students add their own onset to make a word. Students love seeing content written in their own handwriting – it’s validating for them. When they can show their learning in front of their peers, they view themselves as the experts. The content might not be fancy, but it is student made and student owned, and this is so much more powerful than the teacher recording the words that students have named.
By having this student-developed content front and center on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard, students can self-correct. In guided reading groups, I use SMART Document Camera to take pictures of the pages that students are having trouble reading. Students then approach the SMART Board interactive whiteboard and interact with the text. They underline what they know – consonant blends, word families and sight words – and inevitably figure out their mistakes without my saying a word. The SMART Board interactive whiteboard is a tool that unites students’ thinking and doing and makes my classroom a dynamic place to learn.
Students light up and are fully engaged when they are “teaching the class” at the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. And, as a teacher, I can step aside and know that I am doing the right thing.