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Some schools have seen a significant increase in student participation when learning is more visual and interactive. All classrooms at the Jo Mackey Academy of Leadership and Global Communication in North Las Vegas, Nevada, use the Promethean ACTIVboard, a high-tech board with all the capabilities of a computer.

The board allows teachers to conduct interactive lessons using the Internet and incorporating sound, animation, and digital images.

Students use pen-like devices that work like a computer mouse to write answers on the board or to "touch" their answer choice. For math lessons, the board has a library of digital protractors, rulers, compasses, and other tools teachers can utilize.

"Teachers are excited about e-mailing and searching -- kids are excited about text-messaging and social networking. Kids have moved on to online collaborations."

Students also have hand-held devices they can use to signal their answers to a question. That way teachers know immediately after a lesson how many students understood the concepts and which ones need more help, said Jo Mackey Academy principal Kemala Washington. Teachers also can transfer that information into a digital grade book.

"The whole point is to be interactive," Washington told Education World. "There are hands up in classrooms all the time now. The students are so engaged. This is like the video and other interactive devices they are used to."

The ACTIVboard also allows teachers to quickly access illustrations. In one class, a teacher was having trouble explaining to students what an inlet is. When she pulled up a digital image on the board, students instantly understood what she was talking about.

Jo Mackey was able to use federal grant money to purchase the boards. "Its so much different from paper and pencil," Washington said. "But its not like weve completely abandoned paper and pencils. This is just a really nice additional tool for teachers to have."

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HOME CONNECTION Parents are critical to helping youngsters develop responsible, practical, and balanced approaches to using technology.

PULL OUT YOUR HANDHELDS AND CLICK ON PAGE The one-to-one movement opens up new ways of teaching and learning.

AND THE PLAN IS Theres lots of fun stuff out there, but instead of buying the latest and greatest, first determine what problems you need to solve. Then find the tools that provide the solutions.

Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
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