A special gift has made a huge difference to one class at Savory elementary in Langford. Members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91 stopped by the school recently to see just how those Grade 3s were putting their new Smart board to use.
“It’s just transformed that class,” said Savory principal Jane Penn. “It just boggles the mind … They didn’t have them when I was teaching.”
While Penn said they have an incredible group of hardworking parents on their PAC, every penny they raise goes directly to students in the form of a breakfast program, special turkey lunches for Thanksgiving and a number of other programs. She noted it’s hard to justify purchasing extra items such as interactive boards, even though they have a huge impact on the students. “We can hardly afford paper.”
Community groups such as the Langford Legion, which donated $3,500 to purchase the Smart board, make all the difference in providing students with the tools they need to succeed, she said.
The new board was installed in teacher Noelle Arnott’s classroom shortly after Christmas. It replaced a green chalkboard and as one of the students in the class pointed out, brought the classroom “from 1999 into 2016.” While Arnott admits using it has required a bit of an adjustment, she said it has been a fun learning experience. “It’s larger than life,” she said.
Before the Smart board, Arnott would have all 24 students crowd around her desk for some lessons. During others, students had to go back and forth with their worksheets. The new technology allows the student to interact, she said. “It’s way less boring than a work sheet.”
Penn noted “the savings in paper is phenomenal for us.”
But most importantly, Arnott said, “as a teacher I can see if they’re getting it right away.” Unlike a worksheet, where a student would have to complete it, or a large portion of it, then hand it in for marking.
“On the Smart board you can actually move things around,” she said. “Anything you can do on a desktop you can do on a Smart board.”
The board itself can be used as a touch screen and a projector. Students can draw on it and can even ‘grab’ and move items around, which makes some lessons, such as working on fractions, more interesting.
Work done on the Smart board can also be saved for later, so if a teacher runs out of time during a lesson or needs to revisit a past lesson, they can.
While the possibilities are endless, especially with thousands of teacher-made documents available to download for free, the board also appeals to a wider range of learning styles. It can be especially beneficial for students that may not learn as well in the traditional setting or require a little extra help, Arnott noted. “They can see it, they can hear it, they can interact with it.”
When the class is learning about certain subjects, such as nature, Arnott can use the board to project bugs, leaves and anything else they can find on the screen. She can also take a picture so critters can go back outside while the class discusses what they’ve learned.
Langford Legion president Norm Scott joked with the students that he himself “went to this school way back when.” Although, he said, they sure didn’t have anything like this in his time there.
Scott, along with Legion vice-president Terri Orser and treasurer Bruce Ralph, received special hand-drawn thank-you cards from all of Arnott’s students. Orser promised to post them on the wall of Legion so everyone could see just how thankful the students are.
“We’re glad we can give you and the teacher the tools you need to learn,” Scott said. “We’re happy you guys are enjoying it.”
For more information about the Langford Legion go to rcl91.ca.