JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville ISD teachers caught a glimpse of the technology available to help them engage students in the learning process.
About 120 teachers were expected to pass through a Promethean ActivBus Wednesday at Nichols Intermediate School to see technology demonstrations. Split into different sessions, they piled in the mobile bus, where they saw everything from active boards and slates to an interactive table and student response systems. The teachers also had a chance to look at 3-D software that could be used to teach frog anatomy.
“It was very up-to-date and modern to where it made us look like we were from the Stone Age,” Stacie Chapman, Joe Wright Elementary School first-grade teacher, said with a laugh. “We’ve never had a (interactive) white board in our room, so for us to see that — it was a big eye opener.”
Jacksonville ISD Technology Director Hedda Alexander said there were several goals with bringing in the bus for staff development. New Joe Wright and East Side Elementary School campuses will have some of the technology when they open in the fall, she said, and it gave teachers a preview of what they will receive and how it works. Additionally, she said it gives them the opportunity to learn over the summer and get ideas about the different type of instructional settings they can do in the classroom. All district classrooms through sixth grade will have an interactive board or pad next school year.
“It’s to help them see new technologies and to get ideas for engaging students in learning, so it’s interactive and so that they can set up instruction that is personalized for the students. Some students may learn better in a team environment while some learn better in a one-on-one situation or working by themselves, and with these technologies you can do all those different types of instruction,” Ms. Alexander said.
For instance, the student response systems allow the teacher to keep track of how many students answer a question correctly via automatic response, said Lynne Bullock, director of instructional technology in Jacksonville ISD. That way, she said, a concept can be re-taught if needed, and a student can put in an answer without the entire class knowing who gave the answer.
“What inspires me is that I’ve seen teachers come in and they’ve gotten a look at the equipment, and some of them they’ve walked off and said ‘I want all of that. I can see what I can do with my kids with this and how it will engage them and get them participating in the lessons,’” she said.
“They’re excited about it, to have a tool that will do that. Our goals with all of this — it’s not about the technology. The technology’s just a tool for the students … It’s really about teaching them about the content but using the technology as a tool.”
They are tools that teachers said they are anxious to use.
Ms. Chapman plans to use the interactive white board for math and reading instruction.
Alice Ralph, a kindergarten teacher at Joe Wright, said she loved watching the active board demonstration and its ability to help students create words using pictures and sounds.
“A friend who does have one checks (attendance) by this every day … She can look at the board and see who’s moved a shape to their name,” Ms. Ralph said.
Joe Wright Dual Language teacher Jamie Kirk said the technology also will be good for vocabulary development because bilingual students can see a picture that goes with a particular word.
Taylor Spoon, a first-grade teacher at Joe Wright, echoed her colleagues, saying, “I just think all the kids are going to be excited to learn.”