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The 2008/2009 school year in the DreamExtreme 5th grade classroom was truly amazing.
We accomplished so much more than I thought possible, trying new things and reshaping expectations on a nearly daily basis. The students’ use of technology was not only visible, it was purposeful. That’s a real testimony to the engagement of this class, that they were always willing to take a blueprint for a project and shape it out into something unexpected and profound. Honestly, the 2009/2010 class has some MASSIVE shoes to fill!

One of the transforming technology tools we had the true joy of using this school year was the Promethean ActivBoard interactive whiteboard we received in December. It allowed students to view, interact with, create, manipulate and present curriculum-focused content in an engaging and powerful way. With very little tutoring from me, the class was able to quickly jump into confident use of the ActivBoard.

We started each day with an interactive grammar lesson where students used the ActivBoard to correct errors in sentences drawn from the week’s reading selection. Whenever I held the ActivPen out for the next student editor, eager hands invariably shot up around the classroom. An added bonus is that using the ActivBoard means I no longer need to make copies of the activity sheets for each student. Green interactivity!

Next, we used the ActivBoard for our morning math activity, making it possible for students to tangibly interact with the standards-based concepts each lesson focused on. In looking at geometry, students could use the ActivBoard to sort polygons based on specific defining features. In working on measurement, students could use embedded Google Earth documents to measure and record data for important buildings such as the Pentagon or the White House. Were they more engaged using the ActivBoard than just looking at a handout or a page in a textbook? You bet! And, again, I still haven’t had to make a single photocopy or hand out any worksheets.

In addition to use during the normal flow of daily instruction, we were able to use the ActivBoard interactively during an virtual visit with author/illustrator Mike Artell. As shown in the video cip above, students could watch Mr. Artell draw on his computer and see the effects on our ActivBoard using Skype’s Whiteboard Meeting add-on. Similarly, we could draw on the ActivBoard and have Mr. Artell see the results of our work. The experience itself, as wonderful as interacting with an author is, would have been so much less fulfilling and impacting without our Promethean ActivBoard.

The ActivBoard also allowed students to present their collaborative learning projects in a much more dynamic and meaningful way. Students could create elements individually in other applications and then import them into ActivStudio, initially, or the new ActivInspire application for their interactive presentations. The Inspire software is intuitive and flexible, making it highly approachable to all of my students.

Students show a bar graph of their inquiry data.

Students show a bar graph of their inquiry data.

As fulfilling and empowering as having the ActivBoard this school year was, I can’t wait until next year! The new ActivInspire software is even more powerful and user-friendly. I’ll be starting off the year with a keen understanding of the many benefits the Activ tools hold for my instruction and my students’ learning. The Promethean webinars I’m taking this summer will help me to be even more prepared for effectively integrating the ActivBoard into our classroom.

I can’t wait to see how next year’s students will embrace and harness the power of ActivLearning in the DreamExtreme classroom.

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