A common trend in schools is to install in the classroom interactive whiteboards. These are essentially high-tech, 21st Century chalkboards. The person at the board can access computer programs that run on the boards. The boards use no ink, dry-erase markers, or chalk. Instead the person at the board uses a stylus, and the board recognizes when the stylus is suppose to be marking on the board.
At Sioux Central, we do not suggest that schools should not purchase these, but we decided these boards were not right for our classrooms. For the past four years, our primary instructional initiative is to bring increasing use of inquiry learning into the classrooms. Inquiry learning puts the questions and the research into the hands of the kids and makes them do the heavy lifting in terms of teaching and learning. Our one-to-one laptop initiative grew as an extension out of our inquiry learning work. We decided we needed to give our students the high-tech tools to take their research, writing, and presentation skills to the next level, and the tools were the one-to-one laptops.
As high-tech as the interactive boards may be, they generally only allow one teacher or one student to use the board at any one time. We did not want to shift the center of gravity in our classrooms back to the teachers at the front of the rooms. Instead, we wanted the workload to remain in the hands of the students.
Should the students be carrying this weight? Well, see my last blog entry: “Who Should Carry the Workload in Class?” (12/01/10).