Rankin students multiply with whiteboards

TUPELO – Students in Alicia Goddard’s fourth-grade class at Rankin Elementary sat around several tables on Tuesday and faced a whiteboard filled with various multiplication problems.
It was part of a drill during which the 22 fourth-graders spent about 30 minutes getting peppered with questions involving the sevens on the multiplication tables.
For much of that time, nearly every student had his or her hand raised, eager to become the next person to participate in the lesson. Several of those students leaned forward in their seats, trying to increase their chances of being chosen.
The problems were being displayed on a Promethean board, an interactive whiteboard that is able to connect to the Internet, project educational activities and allow for students to write answers, among other features.
“It takes something you have to practice daily, and it makes it less routine and monotonous,” Goddard said.
New drill sergeant
On this particular day, Goddard searched the Promethean’s online database to find a series of activities that would allow her to drill her students on the sevens on the multiplication table.
The lesson began with a video, and students sang along as different numbers were multiplied by seven. By the end of the song, all of the students in the class were standing, and many were dancing and swaying.
There was an activity featuring several problems whose answer was covered by an object. A student had to say the answer and then approach the whiteboard and use a special pen to move the object and reveal whether he or she was correct.
“We’re not in the textbooks all day,” said fourth-grader Anna Roberson, 10. “We get to get up and do stuff on the board.”
In another activity, students were given a number and a multiplication problem and had to determine whether the given number or the multiplication product was larger.
They had a memory game in which they had to match problems and their answer and a maze in which they had to direct a jet to an aircraft carrier by following a trail of the correct answers to several multiplication questions.
For each activity, one student would walk to the Promethean and use a special pen to write an answer or move an object or trace a path through the maze. As one student answered the question, many classmates clamored to be chosen to solve the next one.
“It is fun,” said fourth-grader Braxxton Foster, 9. “You get to do more things on it.”
Classmate Fuller Alvarez, 9, said he enjoyed getting to come to the front of the class and write on the interactive board.
“The fact that they can interact with the board keeps them engaged throughout the lesson,” said Goddard, who said she tries to use the board with her lessons at some point every day.
The use of such interactive projectors, such as Promethean, Mimio and SMART boards, has grown recently throughout Northeast Mississippi.
The Tupelo Public School District is trying to add more of them, particularly in third to fifth grade, where students aren’t supplied with laptops.
Rankin Elementary currently has seven Promethean boards, and principal Anna Guntharp said the goal is to expand that number until every classroom has one. Other classrooms currently have LCD projectors, which allow them to display activities and videos but do not allow for the student interaction.
“It helps with multi-sensory learning,” Guntharp said. “They get to use movement, and they get to use visual and audio learning. I really like that we are able to address different students’ learning styles with technology.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal