Interactive Whiteboard System Drives Increased Achievement at Texas School for the Deaf

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A universal truth for all schools is that engaging students in learningis a constant challenge. In the United States, the task becomes even more daunting due to theadvanced accountability and student achievement requirements that No Child Left Behindmandates.

Texas School for the DeafAt the Texas School for the Deaf (TSD, online at www.tsd.state.tx.us) in Austin, the situationbecomes especially problematic. So, it’s no small wonder that we turned to technology as a solutionfor meeting stringent accountability demands, while simultaneously engaging preK-12 studentswho are deaf or hard of hearing.

Similar to most public schools, TSD offers an elementary program for preK-5 students, a middle school departmentfor students in grades 6-8, and a high school program for students in grades 9-12. Middle school students are offeredintroductory classes in the Career and Technology Education (CTE) program, while all high school students have theopportunity to receive career orientation and technology courses in the program as well.

Captivating Attention

When we started our search, our teachers were supposed to provide more interesting, interactive, visually stimulating and technologically advanced lessons to our special population. We wanted learning tools that our studentscould connect with — something that drives them beyond their limits and stretches their educational experience.

After much searching, we introduced Promethean Inc.’s ACTIVboard system with ACTIVstudio2 software(www.prometheanworld.com/n-america/en) across all grade levels. It was clear from the first day of implementation how powerful the interactive whiteboard system was going to be for our teachers. By offering graphic and interactive reinforcement to both printed and written information, the system gives TSD students a break from concentrating so intently on the educators’ signing hands — an activity that can be extremely demanding.

This visually engaging and user-friendly group-teaching system has clearly captivated the attention ofTSD teachers and students alike. We have been especially impressed with the seamless integration of this teaching solution into every aspect of classroom instruction. If we can say that, with the distinctive challenges our deafand hard-of-hearing student population present, imagine what a teacher in a traditional classroom situation could do. Thepossibilities are infinite.

Creating Enthusiasm

One of our veteran educators who teaches science to seventh- and eighth-grade students reported on the simplicityand fun of introducing the periodic table using the interactive whiteboard and its tools. The teacher said students couldreadily see how elements are grouped by using a scanned-in periodic table, and utilizing the whiteboard’s highlight toolto distinguish among the various groups. The students searched the Internet and found an online interactive periodictable, which was used to show pictures of the actual elements so they could associate the name of the element withits image. Then, the students took turns going to the whiteboard to review the information they had learned.

The teacher indicated that the students were less enthused with the learning process before the interactivewhiteboard system was integrated into the science curriculum. Now she says all of her students are more motivated,drawn in, and even inspired by the delivery of truly interactive material that allows them to work as a group and excelindividually.

In addition, a second-grade teacher used the ACTIVboard to introduce animal groups to her class. She said thecolorful graphics and pictures included in the software, as well as those accessible on the Internet, helped bring her lessonalive. First, she had her students group the animal pictures under the correct heading — mammal, bird or reptile.Later, they had to move the animal characteristics into the correct category. This provided a secondary pedagogical evaluation— aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards — of the students’ individual reading skills.

From the results we’ve seen so far, there is no question that the electronic whiteboard system has made a hugedifference in how our teachers teach and how motivated our students have become about learning. We feel certain that thisenthusiasm will drive increased achievement, which will ultimately help us meet our accountability requirements.

Promethean Investigates Impact of Interactive Whiteboard Technology on Student Achievement

Promethean has announced plans for a three-year international study to investigate the link between classroom technology and achievement. The study will take place in China, Mexico and South Africa, with support from U.K. teachers who will act as mentors, and will specifically focus on the effects of interactive whiteboards in the classroom. Promethean has commissioned MirandaNet, an international research and education consultant, to undertake the study using its global members in the MirandaNet Fellowship. Participating teachers will be encouraged to publish case studies at each phase of the project online at www.prometheanworld.com, allowing educators to track the progress of the projects and advise others on best practices in implementing and using interactive whiteboards.

— M. Miller

This article originally appeared in the 05/01/2005 issue of THE Journal.

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