When I was in elementary school, cleaning the blackboards was a rite of passage. Coughing through the cloud of chalk dust was an experience everyone shared; however, as technology changes, students will no longer get to have that experience.
Local elementary schools have recently begun implementing Promethean boards. The new Bells Mills building has a Promethean board in every classroom, and Beverly Farms, Wayside and Potomac Elementary are in the process of implementing Promethean boards as well.
“I am so thankful that we were able to get the Promethean boards when we opened up in the new building,” Bells Mill fourth grade teacher Sophia Wang said. “The Promethean board has great value in teaching the 21st century learner. I think it is an extremely useful tool that all schools should have.”
Wang uses the board for a number of activities including lunch count, sign-in, gathering data for a consesogram, modeling how to answer BCR questions, morning announcements, and showing video, and photos.
Elementary school students find that the Promethean boards can be a fun and interesting classroom aid.
“My teacher does problems and we order lunch on it,” Bells Mill third-grader Ilana Trembisky said. “We get to drag our names to the lunch that we want to order. It makes learning more fun because you write on an electronic board with different colors.”
According to CHS IT Systems Specialist Robert Jones, the issue of which schools can implement Promethean boards is often financially-driven.
“Many popular educational journals promote the use of Promethean boards to improve education, but unfortunately a school system’s ability to implement the ideas always falls back to how much money we can spend,” Jones said. “At the end of the day, money determines how many Promethean boards are installed and which schools get them.”
According to Jones, schools in the process of being renovated or rebuilt often have access to state capital income, and are therefore able to implement technologies such as Promethean boards.
“Promethean boards are very expensive and eat up a large chunk of money,” Jones said. “Putting Promethean boards in is limiting funds that can be spent on other things in the school.”
As the list of elementary schools with Promethean boards grows, the question arises whether they will be as useful for younger students as they are for older students.
“I think they might be more of a distraction,” junior J.W. Goldman said. “Kids might like to play with them or draw on them. A lot of teachers can accomplish the same things without them.”
Many teachers without Promethean boards at the high school level find that they can manage just fine. According to Ancient and Medieval History teacher Douglas Kraus, as one of the two social studies teachers without a Promethean board in his classroom, he does not feel that he is at a disadvantage.
“It’s just another tool,” Kraus said. “Every teacher is different. Some teachers like it better than others. It doesn’t fit with my style of teaching.”
Many students also feel that Promethean boards are not the most helpful learning devices.
“It’s not necessarily more interactive,” senior Nik Ramirez said. “I think some classes you can use them, and [in] some classes, it doesn’t make sense. A lot of teachers use them just for PowerPoints.”
Though supporters of Promethean boards claim they are making strides in technology, more traditional methods of teaching are still respected and adhered to.
“I also believe that old-fashioned teaching still has a place in teaching today,” Wang said. “Good teaching is good teaching.”