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Liz Heinz can erase her classroom's board with a wave of a hand.
Heinz, a kindergarten teacher at Sudduth Elementary School, said she has erased small lines on her dry-erase board with a finger before, eliciting laughter from children. Now that she has a SMART Board, there is no ink to get on her fingers, and she said some students believe her hand is a literal eraser. If that weren't magical enough, she said, she can remove writing from the board and then bring it back.
"It saves time, because instead of erasing everything, you can just go down and click on a clean page," Heinz said, "and at the end of the day you can go back and review everything you've done during the day."
This month, Sudduth obtained and installed enough additional SMART Boards to put one in every regular classroom in the school.
Lisa Thompson, Sudduth principal, said Sudduth has been implementing SMART Boards in some classrooms for the past few years, but last year, there were still 17 classrooms across kindergarten and first grade that did not have them. Now, she said, all 49 homerooms have them, and so do several special education rooms. The school's pre-kindergarten program also has a SMART Table, she said.
"The kids are keeping up with the latest technology," Thompson said. "(A SMART Board is) 21st century; it's in line with the way these children are accustomed to learning with videos, telephones and smart phones.
There are numerous educational websites that can bring parts of the world these kids don't have access to... right into the classroom."
Developed by SMART Technologies, SMART Boards use projectors to put images from computers onto a white board. Sensors in the board then turn the projection into a touch screen, letting teachers and students use styluses or their hands the same way they would use a computer's mouse.
Different applications then allow not only for writing and erasing, but also interactive, educational games.
Heinz said she had never used a SMART Board before the Starkville School District put one in her classroom recently, and it has already made a difference not only in her teaching, but also her planning, thanks to SMART Notebook software.
"Each day, I can plan in the SMART Notebook my lessons for the day," Heinz said. "I can set up different pages, and the kids can interact with it to where I can use that as a guide for my teaching. The kids absolutely love (the SMART Board), and it holds their attention. They love to interact with it. They always think about the movies when they go in there and they see the screen go up."
Another teacher with a new SMART board, Carrie Powell, said she has been waiting to receive one for a long time, even moving her previous board out of the way ahead of time. Both teaching and learning are easier and more accessible with SMART Boards, she said, because children follow the lessons more easily and are more engaged.
"They are all just waiting to get up there, to be the one to get to touch it, write on it (and) use it," Powell said. "I just want to play with it. It's easier to show them what I want from them when it's big and up on the screen.'
Both Powell and Heinz said they are having minimal problems adapting to the SMART Boards, but if any teachers need assistance, Mandy Eastman is there for them as a curriculum technology specialist. Eastman said she believes when teachers use SMART Boards to teach their curriculum, they indirectly provide extracurricular computer literacy instruction that will help students use other computer software and hardware later in life.
"In my opinion, using SMART Boards at this early age in kindergarten is going to help them in high school and college," Eastman said. "We have standards that build on each other in science, math, language and social studies. I would (like to) see technology having those same types of standards to build upon one another."
Mandy Eastman isn't the only one to make this connection. Her daughter, Ashlan Eastman, a kindergartner at Sudduth, made the connection as well when describing the SMART Board.
"It's like a computer," Ashlan said, "but it's bigger."