Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

Surfing the Himalayas

Nick, the other fifth grade teacher in my school, came to me the other day.  He got his SMARTboard this year, but-unlike me-has never used one before.

“I had a SMARTboard moment”, he said. “That made me realize how much it changes things.”

Nick had been teaching the kids about the Himalayas, and how the climbers have to prepare to scale the enormous peaks.  Before having a whiteboard, he would have to just describe those mountains to kids who may have never seen anything like them before.  Now, within a few moments, he found an online slideshow that showed the kids all of the equipment climbers use and how they prepare.  He also shared a two-minute video of a person on the top of Mount Everest, looking up at a sky that’s almost black because the air is so thin, and looking down on clouds thousands of feet below.

A whole new perspective on the world, via interactive whiteboard.

Meanwhile, next door, the sixth grade teacher, Scott, was showing his kids a movie of the Hindenburg crashing to the ground-demonstrating how dangerous gases (specifically hydrogen) can be.

The SMARTboard is more than just a computer screen I can write on. For the students it’s a window to the world, something that as a teacher I can use to show them what’s out there.  For a small school like mine, having the ability to connect my students instantly with curriculum like this completely changes how I teach.

We like to talk about how we use interactive whiteboards now, and how we could spend weeks learning all the ways to apply them and still only be scratching the surface. How long will it be before they are standards in the classroom? I don’t know if it will ever happen, but it would be great if it were true.

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