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Turlock Christian uses high-tech tool to teach

Turlock Christian uses high-tech tool to teach

Judy Johnson poses a question to her AP Physics class at Turlock Christian High School on Thursday. Students answer by keying in their response on a remote control. The board is one of 26 installed...


POSTED January 8, 2010 11:04 p.m.
Students in Judy Johnson’s AP Physics class watched the white board intently, remote controls in hand. A question appeared on the board, and they keyed in their answers on a hand-held key pad. Johnson could see who had answered the question already, and who was still thinking. She then touched a stylus to the white board, and the image changed to a graph result of the students’ answers. She touched the board again, and another page of questions appeared.
The classrooms at Turlock Christian Schools are not equipped with ordinary white boards. These Promethean Boards are high-tech teaching tools that allow teachers and students to interact with lessons in new ways. Teachers can find materials online or use electronic text books and project them onto the board. Students can then draw on the board, change font sizes, and erase materials all with the touch of a pen. With the use of a special stylus, the drawings become part of the electronic image, rather than just a drawing on top of it. Coaches can also use the boards to dissect game videos, and even draw new plays on the board that become part of the video. Sherman Glenn, superintendent of Turlock Christian Schools, said that the possibilities are almost endless.
“Promethean Boards promote engagement between students and teachers, and between students and their education. It improves learning,” Glenn said.
Glenn was so confident in this new technology, in fact, that he pushed for the instillation of Promethean Boards in every Turlock Christian School classroom, from Kindergarten to grade 12. Turlock Christian is the only district in northern California to have a board in every classroom, and perhaps the only district in the state.
The private school district installed 26 of the boards, at a total cost of $170,000. The district has already raised $120,000 through private donations. While most of the cost was for the boards, some of the money went towards answer buttons and infrastructure. Glenn said that the district had to gut their technology and start over with new servers, fiber optic wiring, and a new e-mail system.
Teachers seem to agree that the boards are a welcome tool for supplementing their lessons. Doug Erickson used a Promethean Board to show images of the human eye to his biology students on Thursday. Erickson said that he uses the boards to bring new media into his classroom.
“I feel like there are more resources available,” Erickson said.
Lynne Thompson hopes to have the Promethean Board in her classroom set up soon. The boards were installed the day before Christmas break started, and some are not fully operational yet. Thompson plans to use her board to read articles online with her high school journalism students.
“We’re excited about it. This gives us the opportunity to compare papers from around the world,” Thompson said.
Promethean Boards allow teachers to gauge the progress of students during every lesson. They can ask questions and students can answer using an individual remote control at their desk. The remotes allow students to type in multiple choice answers, numbers or text. Student answers are displayed on screen using assigned numbers, rather than the student’s name.
“Teachers can see who understands, and who might need a little more time. The students will not know which classmate got an answer wrong, but that classmate will know. And the teacher will know who needs extra help,” Glenn said.  
Glenn said that the next step for Turlock Christian Schools is mastery of the Promethean Board technology. Teachers have already gone through 10 hours of training on how to use the equipment. They have 40 more hours of training to go, the rest of which will be online.
Students are still mastering the use of the Promethean Board, but most seem excited about the new classroom equipment.
“I think it’s kind of neat that you can draw on it,” said Meagan Beam, a seventh grader at Turlock Christian Junior High School.
Turlock Christian Schools are hosting an open house for parents and students from any school district to come and see the Promethean Boards in action. The event is scheduled for Feb. 12. High school and junior high campus open house starts at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. at the Monte Vista Chapel campus. Elementary open house starts at 8 a.m. at the Crossroads campus on Johnson Street. Visitors are welcome throughout the day, but they are asked to register in the gym.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.
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