Texas Tech’s College of Education Gets “Smart”

Smart Board partnership between university and school district is mutually beneficial.

From writing with chalk on slate blackboards and banging out eraser dust, to clicking a mouse, touching the screen and filling the wall with colorful images, classroom instruction has gone from analog to digital in the blink of an eye. Texas Tech University’s College of Education is teaching education students how to use new Smart Board technology to prepare them for teaching in today’s K-12 classrooms. Smart Boards are home-theater-sized screens projected on classroom walls that function like computer touch screens. “The main thing we want to teach the up-and-coming educators is how to make the classroom interactive with technology,” said Kimberly Matthews, instructor of elementary math in the College of Education. Matthews said using virtual manipulatives – objects such as blocks, that a student is instructed to use in a way that teaches or reinforces a lesson – and making them interactive to students is a method to keep them engaged in learning. “I want to show our students who will become teachers how they can get these types of manipulatives on the Smart Board and make them interactive, to pull in the students. When I taught in the classroom, this technology really helped pull in every one of my students,” Matthews said. Many of the would-be teachers in Matthews’ classes aspire to be special education teachers. Brandi Duke, a senior from San Angelo, knows that special ed kids need different kinds of help learning. “The Smart Board is a great way to aid students who don’t have the fine motor skills to technically flip a coin – which can be simulated on the screen. This is another way to help them out and see that it’s okay – we’ll work on that motor skill another time but for now we’ll do it this way,” she said. Lauren Sammons, a senior from Frisco, says the Smart Board facilitates all kinds of learning styles.  “If a student is a visual learner they can see the lesson up on the board; or if somebody needs it demonstrated, they can come up and actually do it on the Smart Board. They can also do it themselves at their seats or outside of class with the same worksheets that correlate with what they are learning in class, so it affects all three kinds of learning capabilities,” said Sammons. Walter Smith, chairman of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction in the college, knows Texas Tech students are more marketable if they have certain certifications coming out of college and into the public school classrooms. “The Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) instructional technology leaders are very interested that the people who come from Texas Tech to join their faculty are ready to use the technology that they’re putting into the classrooms, and we’re very interested in making sure that our graduates are ready to do the kind of job that the local schools want them to be able to do,” Smith said. And, Smith says, it’s not just about feeding teachers to the local schools. The majority of the newly certified teachers don’t go to LISD. They are hired around the state and around the nation, so Texas Tech students are ready to show their prospective employers that they know how to use the technology that the schools are using. CONTACT: Walter Smith, chairperson, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education, Texas Tech University, (806) 742-1998 ext. 446, or walter.smith@ttu.edu.