Stuyvesant purchased two new Promethean Boards, along with 64 new Dell computers, using an 80,000 dollar grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). The boards, which were installed at the end of February, are being used by the Social Studies Department in room 333, and the Chemistry and Physics Department in room 802.
Both departments sent Assistant Principle Technology Edward Wong requests for the Promethean Boards in order to support their large Intel and research programs. According to Assistant Principal Social Studies Jennifer Suri, Wong chose the rooms because they were large enough to accommodate the boards. Social studies teacher George Kennedy and physics teacher Rebecca Gorla are the first teachers to use the boards in their lessons, but other teachers will use them in the future.
The LMDC is a joint State-City corporation that was created after the September 11 attacks, and works with partners in the public and private sectors to help rebuild the World Trade Center site and rejuvenate the surrounding area of Lower Manhattan. According to the LMDC Web site, all 44 of Lower Manhattan’s public schools are eligible to receive a portion of the 4.5 million dollars designated to improving education in the area. Last summer, Wong filed an application to LMDC to use Stuyvesant’s grant money to purchase new Dell computers—which will be used in the Computer Aided Design rooms—and the Promethean Boards.
A Promethean Board is an interactive whiteboard that shows projections, such as images and videos, from any computer or video player it is connected to. It includes interactive features such as a touch screen that comes with an ActivPen, which allows the students and teacher to write on the board, and ActivInspire software, which comes with flipcharts, images and activities that are meant to facilitate a variety of lessons. In addition, students are given a code to enter on the Promethean Web site that enables them to download ActivInspire on their home computers for free, helping them become more familiar with the software and enabling them to review in-class lessons at home.
The Promethean Boards also come with ActivExpressions, also known as clickers, which are small handheld devices that allow students to text their answers to any questions the teacher projects on the board. Their answers can include full sentences, numbers, symbols, math equations or letters corresponding to multiple choice questions. According to Gorla, it is very useful to administer quizzes using the clickers because the computer automatically grades students’ multiple choice answers. “The best feature [of the Promethean Boards] is actually the clickers,” Gorla said.
Wong and Promethean representative Alan Rudt are currently training faculty members to use ActivInspire as well as other functions and devices that come with the Promethean Board. The training process began around Thursday, March 11 and will last for about six to seven sessions, although there is not a set date for sessions. According to Wong, the teachers who volunteered for the training are Gorla, Assistant Principal Chemistry and Physics Scott Thomas, chemistry teacher Samantha Daves and social studies teachers Kennedy, Avram Jezer, Kerry Trainor and Kristin Burnell.
Social studies teacher Anthony Valentin, who helped set up the Promethean Boards, hopes he will have a chance to use them in the future. “Technology does not make a poor teacher into a good teacher. However, it can allow a good teacher to become better. It can provide an avenue for enrichment that a talented teacher can exploit, but would have difficulty with a standard blackboard,” he said in an e-mail interview.
Faculty members have responded positively to having the new Promethean Boards. “I’m very excited. I think that these boards will have a positive impact and allow me to be more engaging,” Gorla said. “I plan to do predominately Powerpoint [presentations] as well as bring more visual presentations.”
“I’m going to try to use it for documentation, pictures, Internet and to enhance learning,” Kennedy said.
Students are also excited to use the new boards.
“It’s [the Promethean Board] a good investment in our classroom because it’s more interactive while we learn,” sophomore Erick Wong said.
“Classes will be much more interactive and interesting with the Promethean Boards. They will provide a new way of teaching students that will help them relate on a new level since technology is such a large part of teenagers’ lives today,” freshman Sarah Duncan said.