A Smart Board in the Classroom: A Promising Practice for Engaging Students

DO-IT Factsheet #418
http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/articles?418

Pete Darragh, a sixth grade teacher at Sidney Glen Elementary School in Port Orchard, Washington, was awarded an AccessSTEM [1] Minigrant to integrate a large interactive white board, called a Smart Board [2], and speakers into his teaching. Mr. Darragh says he applied for the grant as a way to add technology that would "hook" more of his students into learning, including those with learning challenges that result from disabilities. He explained in his proposal that "it is critical that all students be given tools and strategies that will help them engage in their own learning. This is especially important as I prepare my students to move on to junior high. It is critical to engage all students in all subjects. Students who are starting to disengage from learning can be reengaged with exciting lessons."

In his own way, Mr. Darragh is describing some of the important tenets of Universal Design of Instruction (UDI) [3]. The focus of UDI is on designing instruction for students with a broad range of abilities, disabilities, reading levels, learning styles, native languages, and other characteristics. The Smart Board not only lets Mr. Darragh project directly from his computer onto the board in a format large enough for everyone in a class to see, but also allows student work to be projected on the board. The technology is well received by the students and it can be used to accommodate students with visual impairments, attention deficits, and other disabilities without singling them out. Use of this technology allows Mr. Darragh to increase the inclusion of all students in the excitement of learning.

Mr Darragh's use of technology to increase learning, was featured in the local paper, the Port Orchard Independent, in the article Nope, this isn't your father's chalkboard [4]. For more information about how Mr. Darragh is using technology to make his classroom more accessible, send an email message to him at darragh@skitsap.wednet.edu.

For more information on applying universal design in education visit The Center for Universal Design in Education [5].

AccessSTEM [6] mingrants were funded under The Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (AccessSTEM, Research in Disabilities Education award # HRD-0227995).

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