I accepted the 3rd grade position in my school with the full knowledge that my room would have no interactive whiteboard. I am a second career teacher and I wanted to gain some new experience by teaching both on a new grade level and also by teaching with traditional chalk and dry erase boards. My summer science course had opened my eyes to the knowledge that not all teachers in GA have laptops provided by their counties. Hmmm, I thought, what would that be like? In my own self imposed exile from technology I consider myself unplugged. I do have access to an LCD projector and I was able to take my grant funded desktops. I am simply unplugged from the umbilical cord connecting me to my Promethean board. All is not bleak but here in week 3, I would be willing to write a testimonial about the many amazing ways interactive whiteboards enhance learning for students and teachers.
Today as my third reading group joined me at the chalk board and I wrote the same 5 sentences for the third time; I reminisced. Last year the sentences were ready-typed in large easy to read font. The words were draggable enabling students to create new sentences with ease. Sentence diagrams and identifying the parts of speech use to be as simple as clicking the highlighter tool. One click could erase all of the annotations and leave a clean slate of text-only so the subsequent groups to start anew.
During math I envisioned the students playing a more central role in teaching their classmates by demonstrating their thought processes in solving math problems on the interactive whiteboard, the Promethean pen gliding effortlessly on the high contrast whiteboard in a bright primary color.
I walked by the other 9 classroom in 3rd grade on my way to the lunch room or specials. Six of with Promethean boards. They display eye catching flip charts and educational flash games to provide maximum engagement and interactivity for the studnets. I listen to the teachers who share the resources and help each other to create new flipchart resources all in line with our new curriculum. I’m a little green with envy.
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” Aristotle
I realize that those who have never used the board or fear the use of flashy high tech gadgets probably can’t comprehend my sense of loss, but those who have boards give me a knowing look and ask me when I think the PTA will be buying more. I reflect on the disparity of resources available from room to room, school to school, county to county, state to state and country to country. I wonder how people manage to learn despite their disadvantages and that gives me hope.
I may not have an interactive whiteboard this year but I do have 21 very active, imaginative minds in my charge and that alone is extremely motivating and engaging for me as a teacher. I like a challenge, and being unplugged is forcing me to rethink, reform and reinvent my approach to education.
“The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.” James Yorke