Classroom technology writing school blackboard’s epitaph

Jul 21, 2015 by

By Mike De Sisti –

I will not talk during class. I will not talk during class. I will not talk during class.

You may remember writing that over and over on a blackboard as a student. You also didn’t want to see your name up in the corner of the board with a list of a few other spirited non-listeners.

But more often, the school blackboard evokes more positive memories. It’s where you learned to write well, not good. If you were lucky, your job was to clean the board with a big, wet sponge.

But the blackboard, increasingly, is just that: a memory.

Like many schools these days, Clement J. Zablocki School, on Milwaukee’s south side, seldom uses blackboards. “We write the date on it. That’s about it,” said third-grade teacher Wendy Schulteis.

Instead, smart boards are the tool of choice, used as a screen to project on or as an interactive feature.

“The blackboards are just kind of the background behind the smart boards today,” said Schulteis, who’s been teaching at Zablocki for 30 years.

Schulteis remembers how it used to be.

“It was so different,” she said. “When I first started, I filled the blackboard. You taught only on the blackboard.”

Sitting idle is not on the next generation’s dance card. Now it’s all about touching, swiping, dragging and dropping.

That interactive way of learning helps students understand subjects beyond chalk and slate, said Neva Moga, a Milwaukee Public Schools instructional technology supervisor.

“Whatever you can put on a computer, you can project on a smart board and then interact with it — manipulate it, draw on it, show your understanding of a concept by manipulating what’s on the board,” said Moga.

That’s not to say chalkboards are completely obsolete. In Zablocki’s K-5 class, one of the playtime activities involves writing on the chalkboard.

“They have the choice of going to the blackboard to write sight words, draw pictures, write sentences,” said K-5 teacher Dawn Calarco, who added that the kids are drawn more to the chalkboard than the dry-erase boards.

“They like the blackboard mostly because they can use colored chalk,” she said.

But the writing’s on the board. According to Moga, of the about 4,000 classrooms in MPS, more than half have smart boards in them.

“Yeah, the nails on a chalkboard will be a lot different,” Moga said. “I don’t think the kids today will really know of that phenomenon.”

Some workers in charge of cleaning blackboards are fans of their demise.

“You used to have to wash them down every week. They’re really dusty and make a mess,” said Dave Drobnik, Zablocki engineer, whose maintenance duties at the school over the past 28 years have included cleaning blackboards. “Now they got the whiteboards, and you just wipe them down with a rag and they’re clean. It keeps the building cleaner.”

Source: This Is Us – Classroom technology writing school blackboard’s epitaph

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