Incorporating Technology into the Elementary School Classroom

smartboard

Date:   May 14, 2015

To:      Dr. Steven Walts, Superintendent

From:  Taylor R. Whitten

Subject: Smart Boards

The purpose of this report is to recommend that Prince William County Schools implement the use of smart boards in all classrooms, especially in the elementary school environments and provide the proper training. Smart boards are a popular, fun, and innovative educational tool that serves as a replacement for overheads or whiteboards. Smart boards allow for the classroom to transform from a simple, mundane lecture to a collaborative learning environment. With the everyday use of technology by today’s generation of students, technology inside the classroom is a necessity in order to successfully engage and involve the students. The smart board is beneficial because it serves as a tool for students to interact and share with one another along with the teacher (Governor Business Solutions). Every student has the opportunity to participate and become skilled and confident in the topic at hand because they are able cooperate with each other as well as the teacher. It gives immediate feedback, which students need to continue to learn and gage their strengths and weaknesses (Governor Business Solutions). Smart boards are also beneficial because they reduce the clean up time that was previously required by overheads and whiteboards leaving an increased period of time for instruction. Lastly, it permits teachers to save lessons to revisit later, eliminating the wasted time of re-planning. The following report outlines why PWCS should incorporate smart boards into the classroom and the detailed benefits added to the student’s learning process. To make this recommendation, I have researched the benefits of smart boards and how they can best aide student’s education as well as surveying elementary school teachers.

My conclusion when surveying elementary school teachers demonstrates that the smart board is successful in completing its main purpose, engaging and involving the students. The teachers described it as “interactive, hands on, and visually appealing.” They can save their lessons for the next school year without having to spend the time to remake an effective lesson plan. I recommend that PWCS move forward and make it a priority to include smart boards in every classroom and provide the teachers with the proper training necessary to successfully use it. I appreciate you taking the time to ponder my request and I am excited to hear your thoughts regarding my proposal. Please feel free to contact me by email at taylor.whitten.13@cnu.edu or by phone at (703) 357-7434.

Sincerely,

Taylor Whitten

Taylor Whitten

Abstract:

“Study on the Effectiveness of Smart Boards: A Recommendation Report”

    Prepared by:   Taylor Whitten

                             English Major

                                                              Christopher Newport University

 In May 2015, Taylor Whitten, English major at Christopher Newport University, conducted an online survey to gain insight on the effectiveness of smart boards in the classroom setting, using the opinions of elementary school teachers and outside research. Although smart boards have been around for quite some time now, they are just beginning to take flight. When collecting research online there were numerous benefits to the use of the smart board. In a 2008 survey by Newsweek Magazine, 70% of United Kingdom primary schools housed smart boards while only a mere 16% in the United States (NEA). Newsweek magazine concluded that when the smart board was being utilized inside the classroom there was an increase in “student engagement, school attendance, and higher test scores” (NEA). Smart boards allow for a greater interaction rate between the Internet, the teacher, and the students, which in today’s generation is the key to success. The teacher can use videos, games, and pictures to enhance the learning experience for the students. Secondly, they are better for the environment because of the paper and ink saved (governor solutions). The smart board allows for teachers to hold onto effective lessons to use in the following school year giving them more time during their already short planning period to focus on other tasks. Lastly, students require immediate feedback to help them grow, and the smart board makes that possible. Even with these immense benefits, Prince William County Schools still have not supplied every classroom with a smart boards and the few they have provided have not been given the opportunity to learn how to properly use them to their full potential. When surveying elementary school teachers who are in possession of smart boards for daily use, they were excited to talk about them and presented very minor cons. They describe them as visually appealing, easily assessable, engaging, and efficient. Based on my research and survey responses, I recommend that Prince William County School purchase the smart board M600 series due to the “dual touch capabilities, freestyle interaction, collaborative learning software, durable surface, smart ink, and projector controls” (SMART Education). If Prince William County School wants to continue to compete with the neighboring school systems and produce well-rounded students, they need to put smart boards in the classrooms. Teachers know students are requiring the technology to keep them engaged and interested in the lessons and curriculum and need every tool possible to do so.

Keywords: Smart board M600 Series, Prince William County, teachers, students, interactive

Introduction: 

Smart boards would benefit elementary school students by adding excitement into their daily lessons while increasing their engagement and interactions with their peers and their teachers. This report presents the conclusions of my study. I researched the benefits of smart boards and their effect on the all aspects of the classroom. I surveyed elementary school teachers to discover the pros and cons. My research concluded that the smart board M600 series would be best suitable for the classroom due to its features, capabilities, and cost.

The problem I studied relates to the decrease in students’ attention span, engagement, and involvement due to the lack of technology inside the classroom. We live in a technology-centered world today and elementary aged students are a representation of this. They are glued to their phones, gaming consoles, and social media from the time they wake up to the time they go to sleep with the only interruption being school. Some schools are stuck in the past unwilling to use technology. Principal Cathy Fine speaks on the benefits of smart boards stating, “we have to get our schools in tune with the reality that children face today. They’re engaged with technology every minute of their lives. If we’re still teaching the way we were taught years ago, how can we get the kids on board? I think this is a way” (Warren). With this observation in mind, today’s generation of students have distinctive needs differing from those in the past. They need technology in the classroom that will trick them into thinking they are playing a game, when in reality they are learning. Many teachers have realized this information and in turn alter their day-to-day activities and lessons. Without technology, we are turning students away from learning and education all together.

Realizing this problem, I have researched options for revamping students’ desires for learning and concluded that the smart board is the best option. I surveyed 43 elementary school teachers on their opinions of the smart board and how it will affect their classroom, both positively and negatively. The smart board allows for multiple students to interact at one time. It also allows for a decrease in the amount of paper and school resources used making it environmentally friendly. Lastly, it allows for teachers to save their lessons to be revisited at a later time. I recommend that Prince William County School System incorporate the smart board M600 series into their classrooms to solve the problem of a lack of student engagement. In order to ensure that the smart boards are being used successfully and reaching their desired result, they should provide training and workshops for teachers. By doing so, teachers will be able to best plan lessons revolving around the smart board and help students learn.

In the succeeding sections, I will provide elements describing my research methods, findings, data analysis and visualization.

Theory:

I used the phenomenology theory to conduct my research. A phenomenological study is defined as, “describing how a particular experience affects a group of individuals as a whole. The goal is to describe what the actual experience is as well as how it is experienced by an individual” (Creswell). I chose this approach due to the fact that my study was based off a common experience, smart board use. I felt this theory best applied because I took individual teachers and surveyed how it affected them as a group. My study explains how the smart board affects the group of teachers as well as how it affects the students.

Research Methods and Findings:

To best determine if smart boards are beneficial in the classroom setting and their effect on teachers and students, I conducted the following research:

I preformed a survey amongst 43 elementary school teachers to uncover how they felt about smart boards. I used the online survey method, survey monkey to conduct my study. The purpose of the survey was to see if teachers believed smart boards would be a useful addition to their classroom environment. The outcome was full of overall positive responses, meaning smart boards would be a helpful addition to the classroom. One hundred percent of the teachers I surveyed believe that smart boards do successfully engage students. Most teachers’ responses supported how smart boards would solve the problem I presented in my study. They described smart boards as “interactive, engaging, and hands-on.” The teachers also described the smart board as being useful to visual learners who have been held at a disadvantage in the past due to the lack of visually pleasing educational resources. However, the smart board virtually appeals to all type of learners because it can be touched, seen, and heard. Smart boards are able to “accommodate different learning styles. Tactical learners can use the screen and learn by touching and marking on the board, audio learners can have discussions and visual learners can observe the teaching on the board” (Professional Learning Board). The survey participants supported my research of the smart board benefits, which stated the usefulness of saving lessons. My research and survey results revealed the great interactive activities that the smart boards possesses, which allow for students to learn by doing and putting the information they learned into play.

My research demonstrated how smart boards can be a lifesaver to teachers. If smart boards are incorporated into the classroom, teachers will have more time to give to aid struggling students because they will not have to worry about planning the same lessons over and over again year after year. They can have more time for small group instruction or interactions with individuals. For teachers, smart boards are universal. They can use them for every subject and lesson due to the preprogrammed activities. Teachers can use their computer and smart board to, “project an image; a test; a web page; a page from a book; or an actual three-dimensional object for, say, a science experiment” (Warren). Lastly, “research has repeatedly demonstrated that students learn better when they are fully engaged and that multisensory, hands-on learning is the best way to engage them” (NEA).

Students, who are the main reason to purchase smart boards will receive the greatest benefit from them. The students can use them as if they are pen and paper to practice skills. They are able to “write on the board using electronic pencils, then remove mistakes with an electronic eraser” (Warren). The smart board also gives students a better way to interact with each other. They can encourage each other to speak up and participate when they might not of been inclined to (governor solutions). In younger elementary classrooms such as kindergarten and first grade, the smart boards allow for teachers to preform motion activities. Smart boards are beneficial for the younger children who “have short attention spans and respond better to instruction if it includes movement and hands-on actions, such as getting up to answer a question or demonstrating how to use a tool” (Concordia Online Education). Lastly, research has proven that a student needs fast feedback in order to continue to learn. They need to see what they preformed correctly as well as incorrectly. The smart board allows for students to “punch in their answers to questions on the boards, and the teacher gets immediate feedback on how many students were right or wrong. Then, the class can go over the answers without having to wait three days to get the graded tests back” (Warren). Smart boards will help students to gain an understanding on topics that they might of struggled with in the past due to all applications available at the teachers’ fingertips.

  • The question at hand when prompted to purchase smart boards for an entire school system is will they actually be used? And if so, how much? Smart boards are a major investment which requires extensive research and surveys to answer this question. My survey proves that 82.5% of teachers use their smart board for instruction everyday, which is way beyond the majority.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.22.12 PM

  • The second question would be if teachers believed smart boards would be more effective than traditional PowerPoint and/or overheads. Once again an overwhelmingly majority of 79.07% said yes.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.25.25 PM

  • The point of going to school and receiving an education is to mold students’ minds. As educators, we need to uncover the most valuable tools for doing so. I asked teachers what their belief was regarding students better retaining information when it was presented to them using the smart board. Well over the majority of teachers, 95.24% answered yes to this question while only 4.76% said no.

 Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.28.18 PM

  • The two most valuable questions I asked the teachers are based off of their beliefs on the effectiveness and usefulness of the smart board. The first question is asking if they believe the smart board helps to actively engage and/or involve students in the lesson. The second question is asking if they think that using the smart board during a lesson excites the students because it is visually appealing. Both questions received a 100% yes from all teachers surveyed. These are huge selling points in favor of the smart board due to the fact that to teachers, they actively serve their main purposes. According to Lexipedia, the engagements/involvements of students are directly correlated with their participation and interest levels. Lexipedia defines engagement/involvement as connecting with others based off of a common feeling or belief. This demonstrates that if students’ engagement/involvement increases then so will their participation and they will in turn influence their peers.

Data Analysis:

To further analyze my data, I created a mind map to represent how the adjectives used by the teachers I surveyed connect with the smart board’s abilities. The adjectives that could be simply words describing the smart board are transformed into how they are put into action and would be used in the real world classroom setting.

Smart_BoardsWorks Cited:

Creswell, John. Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. London: SAGE Publications, 2012. Print.

“Five Smart Ways to Use SMART Boards in the Classroom.” Concordia Online Education, 14 Feb. 2013. Web. 18 May 2015.

“Interactive Whiteboards Enhance Classroom Instruction and Learning.” NEA Member Benefits, n.d. Web. 22 May 2015.

“SMART Board® M600 Series Interactive Whiteboards.” Education @ Smart Technologies. Smart Education, n.d. Web. 19 May 2015.

“The Advantages of SMART Boards in the Classroom.” Governor Business Solutions. N.p., 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 24 May 2015.

“Using Smart Boards in the Classroom.” Professional Learning Board, n.d. Web. 20 May 2015.

Warren, Jim. “Smart Boards Help Students, Teachers Learn.” Lexington Herald-Leader. N.p., 10 Nov. 2009. Web. 20 May 2015.

Appendix:

1. Do you have a smart board in your classroom?

          A. Yes

          B. No

2. How many days a week do you use your smart board for instruction?

          A. 1 to 2 Days Per Week

          B. 3 to 4 Days Per Week

          C. Every Day

          D. Hardly Ever

3. Do you prefer to use the smart board over using PowerPoint or overheads?

          A. Yes

          B. No

          C. No Preference

4. Do you believe the smart board helps to actively engage and/or involve students in the lesson?

          A. Yes

          B. No

5. Do you think using the smart board during a lesson excites the students because it is visually appealing?

          A. Yes

          B. No

6. On a scale of one to five (one being the least and five the most), do you think the smart board is useful in your lessons?

          A. 1

          B. 2

          C. 3

          D. 4

          E. 5

7. Do students better retain information when you present a lesson using the smart boards?

           A. Yes

           B. No

8. Are student interruptions during instruction decreased while using the smart board?

          A. Yes

          B. No

9. What are the pros to using the smart board?

10. What are the cons to using the smart board?

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