Part 1: Interactive boards engage students in Shelton

Blackboards have given way to Promethean boards in many Shelton classrooms, and are a sign of how technology is changing the way young people learn today.

“Education is evolving so students are more engaged in active learning, and no longer just sit and observe,” said Erica McNeil, a science teacher at Shelton Intermediate School (SIS). “This increases student participation.”

The interactive whiteboards are essentially large computer screens in the front of the classroom, allowing for everything from Internet videos to touch-screen movement.

Students use responders

With individual responders (like TV remotes) held by every student, there can be real-time discussion of the answers they give. Graphs immediately show the percentage of correct answers.

Classes usually show their pride when everyone gets the right answer. “If it’s 100%, they all cheer,” said Jenna Nuzzo, a Perry Hill School fifth grade teacher.

Students can play Jeopardy-type educational games on the boards, enabling students to learn while also having fun.

A teacher oversees what is on the board through a remote device that resembles a pen, which also can be used to write or draw. Most of the classroom boards are 5.25 feet wide by 4 feet deep.

The boards even have the ability to record what is done on them, so students or others can check out the lesson at other times.

Central office and City Hall support

More of the boards are being purchased for classrooms in Shelton schools, with the support of Board of Education officials and Mayor Mark Lauretti.

“Times have changed,” Lauretti said. “Technology has changed. I do think this technology will help the learning process.”

Increasing involvement

Kenneth D. Saranich, SIS headmaster, said he has seen the difference the 24 boards at his school make in a classroom. “It definitely raises the level of student involvement,” Saranich said.

Saranich said he has watched as students in a social studies class go up to the board to mark what countries fought in World War II by touching the board.

Shelton High School Principal Beth Smith said the boards “create a dynamic environment that allows students to actively participate and be engaged in their learning.”

Now an integral part of teaching

Nuzzo, who teaches math, science and social studies at Perry Hill, said the boards have become so integral in class that when the school recently lost power briefly, students began commenting on what it is like to try to learn without technology.

Perry Hill Principal Lorraine Williams said that after the power outage, one teacher “hugged” the interactive whiteboard as soon as the electricity came back on.

Promethean is a brand name, with Smart Board being another company that makes a similar product.

This is the first in a two-part story. The other part will appear online Saturday morning.