Those who have watched recent televised election returns on CNN have seen the same technology that is being used in Waxahachie ISD classrooms.

“It’s an interactive white board,” Dunaway Elementary principal Eric Brewster said of the technology used by the cable news station to show vote tallies and on-the-spot updates. He likens the CNN-used boards to those used in Dunaway classrooms.

Two years ago, each campus in the district received one Promethean active board. Since then, Dunaway Elementary has purchased more, using funds in the school budget, along with money raised by the PTO.

“My long-range intent is to have it for every classroom,” Brewster said, noting that in addition to budget funds and PTO donations, corporate grants may be sought to help with the purchases.

The system includes a computer, a projector, an active board wall screen and a smart pen. A document camera is optional, but adds more versatility to what can be projected onto the screen.

“You’d have to go on a field trip to have this kind of visual,” said fourth-grade teacher Debbie Durling, who began using the active board technology in her classroom two months ago.

In addition to enhancing the learning experience in her classroom, the active board system also saves money and time, Durling said, saying the technology has reduced the need for paper handouts and transparencies for her overhead projector.

“That saves money on transparencies, paper and ink cartridges (for the copy machine) and all the time that I spent standing at that copy machine making those copies and transparencies,” said Durling.

“It made the learning less difficult and you couldn’t really tell you were learning something because it was fun,” fourth-grade student Timothy Ducklow said.

Fourth-grader Tanner Fincher explained that one aspect he likes about the active board is that his teacher can display a page from a textbook onto the screen and point to where she wants the students to look, rather than saying something like “look at the third paragraph, second sentence.”

Fourth-grade student Trenton Brown likes the learning games he and his classmates play using the active board.

“It makes learning fun,” Brown said.

Durling points out that, by using the active board, instruction can include interaction, pictures, teacher modeling, peer modeling and discussion, all of which she said improve a student’s retention of the material presented.

Utilizing the active board, Durling’s students have performed virtual knee replacement surgery; participated in interactive lessons on simple machines, rocks and geometrical angles; and completed a history/social studies unit on Native Americans.”

“I think this (active board) will put my kids over the top,” Durling said.

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