THA tidbits: SMART boards rule

“We want to have SMART boards in every classroom,” says Ronnie Sebold, director of admissions at Tucson Hebrew Academy, which currently has two such devices. The big whiteboard in front of the 6th grade literature class, taught by Jordan Hill, takes the place of a traditional blackboard. But its high-tech versatility promotes a lot more interaction between students and teachers.

While the class was studying “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer, Hill prepared multimedia lessons on his laptop. He posted classroom notes, showed YouTube clips and moveable diagrams, produced a dynamic puppet show about archetypal motifs, and conducted a visual classroom poll on which character the students found most admirable.
Hills’ lively teaching style — he’s a professional storyteller (see “Storytelling a Jewish art form, says local raconteur,” AJP, 4/3/09) — enhanced by the SMART board’s capabilities had students clapping, cheering, and involved in audience participation. Mixing high with low-tech, at appropriate times, he asked student Natalie Leonard to hold up her hand-drawn sign that said, “Archetype.”
The SMART board “takes education to a whole new level in the middle school,” says Sebold.
THA recently acquired its second SMART board, the result of a board challenge asking members to dig deep in their own pockets. Jason Litvak, owner of Carl’s Air Conditioning and Heating Service and an AJP advertiser, is offering a discount promotion to help THA purchase additional SMART boards.
This new technology, says Sebold, “opens up a ton of data and resources for teachers.”