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A “Smart” Feat

Carolyn LaRoche
Great Bridge High School
Chesapeake, Virginia

When the Smart Board was first introduced to our school, I was excited to get my hands on one. After eight years of teaching, I was tired of standard lectures, slide show presentations and overhead projectors. Learning to use the Smart Board was fun and exciting and I loved introducing creative lessons into my daily lesson plans.

Because I hold two teaching licenses- one in biology and one in chemistry- I usually teach two different courses at a time. The upside to this is that I often see students in two or more different subjects and get to know them well. At the time I was teaching chemistry and marine ecology and had a group of five or six students that went from the marine science class into chemistry the next semester.

Chemistry is a very challenging course and not every student is destined to take it. When these students signed up for my class, I was concerned. Apparently so were many of my colleagues as I received several comments in the early days of the course concerning the abilities of the students in my class. One colleague even offered me condolences on having to get them all to pass an SOL.

It has always been my philosophy that any child will rise to meet the bar set for them and on principle I always keep my expectations high. But I have to admit, I was worried about this group. So I decided to get creative. We drilled basic concepts over and over again, the Smart Board becoming a regular part of our days. By the time we were just weeks before the SOL, the students had taken over and would run the Smart Board lessons each day- teaching each other, correcting each other’s mistakes and actually learning some chemistry. I would just sit and watch some days, amazed at what they were accomplishing.

Still, I was worried. They had worked hard but the SOL was difficult and I wasn’t confident they would all pass it. When test day came, they were nervous. We had a quick pep talk then took the test.

Waiting for the results was intense. The kids were quiet, nervous, maybe even a little scared. When the test coordinator handed me the printout, I cried. Every single one of my students had passed that test! Three of them had a flat 400 but still, they had passed! Never had victory ever tasted so sweet for any of us!

Two years have passed since that day and I still love my Smart Board. Now that I teach Anatomy and Physiology, there are so many more uses for such a dynamic piece of technology.

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