Computer screen replaces chalkboard at school

SECOND-GRADER MEAKLO MONTOYA USES a wireless pen-like device on a computerized presentation system called a Promethean board. Every classroom at Chipeta Elementary School has one. Two staff members of School District 51 would like the technology to become standard in schools.

Meaklo Montoya used technology that would probably stump his parents as he led his second-grade class in the reading of the morning message.

Classroom mainstays such as the chalkboard are all but dinosaurs at Chipeta Elementary School, where 21st century tools such as Promethean boards and document cameras are paving the way for what District 51 hopes will be new technology districtwide.

“It’s night and day,” said Montoya’s teacher, Amy Neil, of the effect the technology has had on her students. “It has re-energized me, and the kids get so engaged with it. It’s fun. It makes it fun.”

Neil said she has taught for 10 years and never had access to the Promethean board her students gather around every morning.

The board is “one step above a Smart board,” Chipeta Principal Pat Buckley said.

Smart boards and Promethean boards are named for the companies that sell technology products to school districts.

Whereas a Smart board is touch-sensitive, and thus prone to dirty hands and messed-up work if someone brushes against it, a Promethean board is controlled by a wireless pen, Buckley said.

“It’s basically a giant computer screen,” Buckley said.

Every classroom at Chipeta has a Promethean board, a sound system linked to a hands-free microphone around the teacher’s neck that projects clearly to all points in the classroom, and a document camera that can scan any image put in front of it and project it to the board as an interactive item.

Gary Conklin, who teaches in Chipeta’s computer lab, said he can take control of all the computers in the lab from one station to demonstrate concepts to the students. He also has a database of students’ work that allows him to assess them when they visit the lab.

“It’s real-time assessment of where that student is at,” Conklin said.

Odus Harwood, executive director of technology for the district, and Devonee Grams, technology integration specialist, told the board of education in October that these types of technology are what should become the standard for technology in all schools.

Technology use is “event-based” in most schools, Grams said, and not integrated with curriculum.

“We think this is the direction we should be moving,” Harwood said. “We not pushing technology for technology’s sake.”


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