Chalkboards are things of the past. Even overhead projectors have become outdated.

As technology advances, so do teaching methods, and Scarborough High School has no intention of being left behind.

According to Principal Pat Conant, a $500 grant the high school recently received from the Oak Hill Mobil station will be put to use in the math department, which is looking into purchasing wireless writing tablets that project onto a screen and are connected to the Internet.

Conant said the idea came to her when Dru Sullivan, chairwoman of the math department, asked to replace an overhead projector that had broken. Conant thought maybe it was time to explore other options.

She knew math teacher Steve Banks effectively used his own writing tablet that was attached to his computer for lessons, but saw the option to take it a step further.

Sullivan said she was “overwhelmed by how many options there were” for portable wireless writing tablets.

“People are pretty excited about it,” she said.

According to Sullivan, using the tool in the classroom would make for “more fluid teaching.”

“It keeps the conversation going,” she said of being able to pass the tablet from student to student.

In addition, all the notes made on the board are saved, which is beneficial for students who missed school due to sickness and special education students who have trouble taking notes.

Banks is already able to do that with his wired tool. He said he has notes saved from the past several years and has used it to e-mail notes to parents of students who were out sick.

“It’s been a really, really great tool,” he said.

For Banks, the only downside is that the wire keeps him chained to his computer, and he would like to be free to walk around the classroom.

Jay Vance, a teacher in the English department, also purchased his own wired tablet, and thinks a wireless one would be useful for his classes as well.

He said he already uses it for grammar lessons but believes his students would benefit from being able to take the tool in their own hands to fill in sentences or underline grammatical errors.

“It really focuses their attention,” Vance said about looking at text together on the screen, as opposed to everyone having his own copy.

Students in Banks’ algebra class agree. “You can see it better, and it’s brighter,” said Jonelle Foley, a freshman in the class.

“He doesn’t have his back turned to us all the time,” added sophomore Melissa Karass.

Though students already enjoy the wired tool, they can see even more possibilities with a wireless one that could be passed around.

“People tend to be more focused when they do it themselves,” said sophomore Teal Dibiase.

Freshman Kevin Pitts said he likes being called up to the board, but would appreciate not actually having to get up.

“More people would want to answer the questions,” he said. “It makes school more fun.”

Conant said, hopefully, with the grant from the Mobil station and other donations, the school will be able to purchase two tablets, to be used in both the math and English departments.

According to Lisa Brady, owner of the Mobil Station, this is the fifth year the store was able to give a grant to the school. In other years, the money has been used to fund a Shakespeare production and freshman retreat.

Brady said it’s important to her to give back to the community and help the schools.

“They do a great job educating our local children,” she said.

Sullivan said two new tablets “would be a great start” for the department changing its teaching tools. She said she doubts the tablets will be shared throughout the department, because once one teacher starts to get used to it, he won’t want to give it up.

But before Banks can claim the new tablet for his own, he’ll continue to stay tethered to his desk in order to reap the benefits of the wired tablet.

“I hate getting that dry erase marker stuff all over my hands,” Banks said.

Math teacher Steve Banks uses his own wired version of the new writing tablets for several years. He said he has notes saved from the past several years and has used it to e-mail notes to parents of students who were out sick.


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