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Week Five: 27.03

I attended a different tutorial class this week, as I was unable to attend my regular class. I embraced this opportunity, as I would be able to hear how another lecturer explained concepts to his class. After attending his class, it allowed me to see that the way in which a teacher explains and engages with their class is critical to the learning process. I found out that even though both my lecturer and the lecturer of the different tutorial were teaching the same content, the way in which they presented it and answered questions throughout the class changes the way in which it is learnt. I found that the lecturers had different teaching styles, which suit different students accordingly. I found this interesting and considering the effects it has on students.

This week, we began to learn about the application of Notebook in order to use SmartBoards within classrooms. It was discussed that SmartBoards are useful in the classroom as they encourage engagement with both online and offline activities, motivates students to learn and lessons can be personalised using the applications of Notebook. As I have said in previous posts, I am a little wary of new technologies and I am not 100% confident in using them or seeing their benefit. While the lecturer was discussing features of the SmartBoard and its application, Notebook, and how it will assist us as teachers in the classroom, the SmartBoard blacked out twice and the touch-feature was never aligned properly (even after it was reset!!!). It was ironic that we were being taught how fantastic this new technology is, yet it kept failing while being used. Is this really going to help teachers? If every time we go to use this ‘fantastic’ piece of technology and continually does not work, then how much will our students learn? How much time will we waste trying to fix it? 

It was said during class, that there is no evidence that SmartBoards actually improve the academic levels of students, found within the literature (Higgins, S., Beauchamp, G. & Miller, D. (2007). Reviewing the Literature on Interactive Whiteboards. Learning, Media and Technology, 32 (3), 213-225.), however it does increase motivation due to its kinaesthetic, visual and audio appeal.  National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM ) states that “things they [students] can touch and manipulate are particularly helpful” to learning. This may be true on some levels, but I believe that SmartBoards may not be the best answer for teaching students. I am supported by another blogger, who is a practicing teacher. He states that “Unfortunately, with devices like Smart Boards, images come and go, and the teacher is often looking at a computer screen for part of the class“, which I believe is true. SmartBoards cannot replace a teacher or real interactions between peers and teachers.

During Professional Experience Two, I was encouraged by my cooperating teacher to use the SmartBoard for my lessons. I used it to do the morning maths questions for the Stage Two students as well as for comprehension and other mathematics lessons. It was helpful to show the entire class the questions clearly, but sometimes the answers would appear automatically (even though they were covered using ‘screenshade’ on the connected computer), the typing pad on the SmartBoard never worked, and it broke for two days, meaning I needed to re-plan my lessons. I know that these mishaps are a part of teaching, but I believe that if they can avoided, why not avoid them? Why continually go back and use something for all lessons that has a high risk of breaking?

SmartBoards are useful in classrooms to give the students variety, but from the information that I was given during this weeks class and the hiccups I witnessed as well as past experience from Professional Experience Two, I do not believe that SmartBoards should be used for all lessons everyday. 

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