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Spotlight on SMART Boards with Xavier Muñoz

Learners, teachers, and volunteers at LCNV's James Lee Community Center location have all seen the new SMART Boards in our classrooms. The SMART Boards are part of LCNV's goal of giving learners the opportunity to engage with technology and learn English in new, effective ways. The installation of these three SMART Boards was made possible thanks to the support of Fairfax County’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services and Fairfax County Government, who provided the technical infrastructure at no cost to LCNV, a generous corporate donor, Kihomac, and a significant unrestricted donation from an individual interested in integrating more technology into adult education. Xavier Muñoz, Faculty Support Manager for LCNV spoke with us to explain more about LCNV's new technology, and the new educational opportunities our SMART Boards create.

What is a SMART Board?

SMART Boards are digital white boards. They allow for teachers and students to interact directly with computer-based classroom content. Learners can “write” on computer-based educational material, and the technology helps to create a collaborative, dynamic learning environment encouraging direct interaction with the subject matter.

What are LCNV’s new SMART Boards used for?

Installed in December 2016, we now have a SMART Board in each of our three James Lee Community Center classrooms, decked out with WiFi and LCNV laptops designated for use with the SMART Boards. Each laptop has files and programs that correspond to the classroom books – audio, big pictures from units, etc. Other programs, such as a picture dictionary tool are on the laptops to supplement the classroom books. We use document cameras to enable any handout or book page to be projected and written on via the SMART Board.

Faculty Support Manager Xavier Muñoz uses an LCNV SMART Board

Who is using the new SMART Boards?

The SMART Boards are now being used by teachers in our morning and evening ELL classes as well as in our Skills-based classes.

How can we boost teacher’s understanding and classroom efficacy with the SMART Boards?

We’re making ongoing efforts to provide professional development and hands-on trainings that build skills using SMART board tools for one-on-one, small-group, or whole-class instruction. Our initial 1-hour training, led by two LCNV teachers and an LCNV student advisor, was attended by 13 teachers and aides. LCNV has now provided additional 30 minute trainings for 16 more teachers, aides, supplemental tutors and program staff.

More training for LCNV teachers and volunteers will be scheduled soon!

How are the SMART Boards enhancing a learner-centered approach?

We are thinking about how we use these technologies and why. As a tool, we’re using it to broaden the learning experience and allow classroom tasks to be redesigned, such as:

  • providing multiple means of engaging learners by:
    • Spotlighting particular portions of a large picture or text to focus the attention of the whole class.
    • Making the classroom more media-rich and the curriculum more contextualized by searching Google Images for vocabulary, and playing authentic videos.
    • Enabling additional multisensory means of learning about grammar (e.g. playing with word order).
  • providing multiple means of representation by:
    • Increasing the size of text, images or other visual content.
  • speeding up regular classroom practices:
    • Some teachers prepare PowerPoints of their lesson that can be projected and written on during class. This reduces the time it would take to write out each exercise on the board, providing more instructional time.
    • The document cameras make it easy to project and model exercises in handouts and the book.
Author: Xavier Muñoz