Sunday, February 10, 2008

Educators have hailed the benefits of personal experience as an integral part of the learning process. This precept is certainly applicable to students using the Smart Board during a classroom lesson. It is especially appropriate when teachers aim to simultaneously enhance the technological skills of their students, the next generation of knowledgeable Smart Board users.

While teaching Tanakh and Jewish History, ivrit b’ivrit, at Herzliah High Schools in Montreal, I thought my students would gain added value by doing something extra with the Smart Board. In addition to the typical classroom student utilization, usually consisting of moving key words, reconfiguring sentences and grouping picture parts, I wanted them to get a better sense of this technological tool by assigning a project in which each student creates a complete Smart Board lesson/module of his/her own.

Therefore, I assigned my 10th and 11th grade students research projects in Jewish History and Tanakh. They are currently preparing approximately 75 Smart Board lessons/modules in Hebrew. Since these projects are synchronized with the grade 10 Jewish History and grade 11 Tanakh curricula, the extra load of presenting the project on the Smart Board is insignificant.

For more details and instructions on these projects, please see attached PDF files.
Grade 10 Project Grade 11 Project

My grade 10 Jewish History students are currently researching the 3rd, 4th and 5th Aliyot. Thus, their Smart Board modules will deal with the various forms of settlements (Kibbutz, Moshav, Moshavah, City) in the Land of Israel in the early part of the 20th century. Meanwhile, my grade 11 Tanakh students are studying Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), Iyov (Job) and Tehillim (Psalms). Thus, their projects will focus on teaching different chapters of Tehillim, while incorporating their acquired knowledge of Kohelet and Iyov. To ensure that online users will learn the material while enjoying themselves and being challenged, students have integrated a game into each Smart Board module.

To overcome technical difficulties, students were advised to proceed in the following manner:
1) To prepare their project on PowerPoint, a program with which they are familiar.
2) To transfer the project to Smart Board Notebook, which they need to learn to use.
3) To present their module in class.

My grade 10 students have already completed the first step and are currently working on transferring their projects to Smart Board Notebook. My grade 11 students are just nearing completion of the first step.

A sample of students’ Smart Board modules will soon be posted on the school’s new online Pedagogical Center. These modules can be downloaded and fully or partially incorporated into teachers’ lesson plans.

For now, all is proceeding according to plan. However, only in the coming weeks will I be able to start evaluating the success of this experiment. I will keep you updated about the results.

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