Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Work SMART-er

If there's one major theme that runs throughout everything we are doing with Teach 21 I believe it is we understand that it is not all about the technology. It's not the hardware that will transform our teaching and our students' learning, but what we do with that hardware that will be the difference maker. We can't just install equipment and - presto - all our students become straight-A students and proficient on North Carolina's End of Grade Tests.

I found this on http://21cmeyer.blogspot.com/2008/03/ive-been-thinkingabout-21c.html back in June, and it aptly describes the learning community we are trying to create here at Bolton.

"What I see in the CyberCamp presentations is that good teachers will be good no matter what the tool — a piece of chalk or thousands of dollars worth of technology tools. But, when you hook up a great teacher with engaging tools — that’s when magic happens. The tools become transparent. The teachers in our school that are making a difference with students, connect with kids and listen. They observe the world and try to bring a piece of it into the classroom."

With that in mind, our most recent Teach21 gathering (Oct. 9) was a half-day training at Clark-Powell, a local systems and technology vendor. The "big" piece of technology that each classroom teacher is receiving as part of Teach21 is a SMART interactive white board. The notebook software that comes with a SMART Board gives teachers a powerful teaching and presentation tool that both teachers and students can and should use.

Our trainer from Clark-Powell focused on the latest version of the notebook software and time was spent with small groups of teachers actually touching the board and manipulating the software.

The morning was very productive, we were treated like true professionals (which we are), and teachers are now very anxious to have their SMART Boards installed. Moreover, the SMART Board isn't just for use with it's fabulous software. It will allow teachers to manipulate just about any software on their computers straight from the board giving them ways to open up the whole world to their students.

I've said this over and over, but I truly believe it. The teachers on our Teach21 team were already masterful and talented. With hardware in hand they can use those talents in new and engaging ways, and I believe, will motivate/educate students like never before through the rich learning communities they are creating.

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