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December 11, 2012 | 04:31 PMWALWORTH — There are no chalkboards at Walworth Elementary School. The chalk went away years ago, replaced by dry-erase boards.
Those boards are fading into the background, too, as the school installs Promethean Boards in all classrooms.
"We just love our boards," District Administrator Pam Knorr said. "They can be used for so many things."
Walworth Elementary now has a board mounted in every classroom, and teachers are adapting to the new tool. The boards are giant touch-screen computers that can do "almost everything," according to math teacher Brian Ryczkowski.
"I've downloaded a graphing calculator application," he said, pulling an image of the calculator on the screen in his room. "I can show the calculator on the screen while students have it on their desks."
The boards work for projecting assignments, quizzes, showing movies and for interactive learning.
A student can go to the board and write on it, similar to the way he would with a dry-erase board, except answers can be checked by the computer and errors corrected quickly.
"We use the board every day in here," Ryczkowski said. "The students can come up and complete math problems on the board."
Displays on the board are controlled by a computer, so teachers can create slide shows and documents to share with a class. With Internet connection, the boards can act as a browser or a seamless interactive exploration for students.
Roberto Gutierrez, who teaches English as a second language, uses the boards to create "flip charts."
"The students can click on a link in the slide show, and a website with a video or story will come up," he said. "The kids really get into it. They love coming up to the board."
The flip charts have links for more information on websites created specifically for boards like in Walworth's classrooms.
"The Safari Montage program allows teachers to access all kinds of information on the Internet," Knorr said. "They can look up something for a class topic, or they can just go searching for anything."
Safari Montage is a video-on-demand program the school has contracted with to make the information available for instruction.
The Promethean company also has online resources for teachers to use with the boards, including lesson planning, slide shows, worksheets and project ideas for students.
Ryczkowski said the immediate feedback gives the boards more functionality.
"All the kids in class have a feedback remote," he said. "I can put up a question or quiz on the board, and they all enter the answers. The scores are shown on the board, if I select it."
The feedback remotes are hand-held devices, similar to a cell phone key pad. Students use the keypad to answer, and the information is sent to the teacher's computer.
"It's great to see if students are really learning the material or not," Ryczkowski said. "If they get it, we move on, if they don't, we spend more time. It really makes the teaching have a greater impact."