A tool that both increases children’s interest in learning and allows them to enjoy participating in class is now on St. John.
Electronic whiteboards, which Julius E. Sprauve School (JESS) purchased with funds raised at this year’s Sprauve Gala, are enhancing the learning experience for JESS students.
Fourth grade teacher Mary Burks, who got the first whiteboard installed in her classroom, has made it an integral part of her teachings.
“It is wonderful,” said Burks. “It’s a good tool to use. The kids have learned how to use it, and they are motivated by it.”
The whiteboard allows a teacher to project text documents, photos and many different learning tools from a computer on a white, interactive screen, on which the teacher uses an electronic pen to select items, write, draw and more.
No More Traditional Chalkboard
Burks was skeptical about having to toss out her old, traditional chalkboard, the teacher explained.
“They told me they were going to take my blackboard off the wall, and I said, ‘you’ve got to be kidding,’” said Burks.
Burks went through one day of training on the whiteboard, and is still learning more and more of its capabilities, she explained.
The whiteboard has several different features that enhance learning, and allows teachers to combine subjects, added Burks.
“We were learning to measure with millimeters, and the whiteboard has a ruler you can display,” she said. “I put up fish, frogs and other animals they were studying in science and we measured them with the ruler.”
This feature is De-Moy Thomas’ favorite, the student explained.
Grid, Clock Display
“I like the ruler, and measuring the fish,” said Thomas. “I also like using the pen on the board.”
Burks can also display a grid on the whiteboard, which is helpful for math and putting words in alphabetical order, the teacher explained.
The whiteboard allows a teacher to create reminders that scroll across the top of the screen, or display a timer to tell students how much time they have left during a test.
“It has a clock, and when the bell rings, we know the test is done,” said student Siyolo Olivieri.
The whiteboard is also helpful to substitute teachers, according to Burks.
“If there’s a sub, the students know what to do,” she said. “They know how to come in here and get the whiteboard going.”
Reading and writing are other subjects the whiteboard is useful for, explained Burks.
“We can scan in the kids’ writing and do editing on the screen together,” said the teacher. “It’s really fun, and it’s useful for me too.”
Unlike a traditional chalkboard, where a teacher’s notes are gone once they are erased, Burks can save her notes on the whiteboard for later review.
“If a student is absent, I can retrieve the notes from the day he was gone,” said Burks.
The whiteboard allows student involvement with “boats,” or small remote-control devices that students use to input their answers to multiple choice questions posted by the teacher.
“I can see who answered what, and what the participation rates are,” said Burks.
The students enjoy the use of the boats as well, they explained.
“If we get the right answer, the number of our boat comes up green on the screen,” said Olivieri.
The whiteboard makes teaching easier for Burks, the teacher explained.
“It does make my job easier,” said Burks. “You keep creating things, and the longer you use it, the more you create.”
“They are benefiting from having this natural tendency to be interested in what’s going on,” she said. “They like coming up to the board to work on it.”
Burks’ fourth grade class echoed her sentiments.
“It’s fun to play with and use for math and reading,” said Tariq Grosvenor. “I like going up to the board to answer questions.”
The whiteboard has increased Jacqualyn Clarke’s interest in learning, the student explained.
“It’s fun to use for all kinds of subjects like math and science,” said Clarke. “We get to answer questions and play on it.”
The rest of the whiteboards have come in, and the other JESS classrooms should be outfitted with the educational whiteboards shortly, explained Burks.