Friday, August 28–White Boards Latest In Classroom Tech Advancements

NEWARK – Students in three area elementary schools will enjoy the fruit of federal stimulus funds this year in the form of interactive “white boards” that are meant to allow teachers and students to approach learning in a more engaged way.

“The technology will allow teachers in a very inviting way to teach to more styles, to get students more involved,” said Title I coordinator Stephanie Zanich.

The white boards will appeal to students and make a huge difference in student engagement, Zanich said, with students more actively involved in learning.          

The stimulus funds were only available to Title I schools, which have a high proportion of poor students and special education students.

Between them, Worcester County’s Title I schools, Buckingham Elementary School, Snow Hill Elementary School and Pocomoke City Elementary School, now boast 39 white boards, at $3,800 each.

White boards have been installed in second and third grade classrooms at the Snow Hill and Pocomoke schools, while Buckingham now has the new technology in second through fourth grades.

Next year’s Title I stimulus funding will be directed toward white boards for kindergarten and first-grade grade classrooms at those three schools.

The county schools received $836,000 additional Title I monies in addition to the normal allocation of $1.3 to $1.5 million Title I funding, said Zanich.

“There are certain restrictions on funding, different from the regular Title I money,” said Zanich. “What you do has to be designed to improve student achievement…you have to be able to draw a direct connection and you have to support it.”

Title I funding cannot be used to support ongoing positions or programs. The county schools will also use the Title I stimulus funding to support a pilot program to contract a language infusion teacher for English Language Learners in two schools. If the program is successful, and the school board decides to continue the effort, the county schools would have to pay to continue the program.    

Worcester County Public Schools Public Relations Coordinator Barb Witherow demonstrated the white board during a recent report to the Worcester County Board of Education to demonstrate the results of a communications survey.

“It’s really neat what they can do,” said Witherow, who went through a two-day training along teachers. Some teachers had another day of instruction to enable them to act as resource teachers for the rest of the staff, she said.

The white board can capture the entire lesson, a resource for future classes, review, and absent students, Witherow said.

White boards combine interactive graphs, quizzes and demonstrations with Power Point-style presentations, but users do not have to go to a keyboard or touch a mouse to interact, instead simply touching commands on the small blackboard-sized white boards. The board can also be written on.

White boards will be used not just as a demonstration tool or a substitute for an overhead projector or Power Point presentation, said Dr. Richard Walker, assistant superintendent for instruction, but to get students to use more technology and work more closely with content.

“It’s very powerful in grabbing and holding your attention,” Walker said.