Using SMART Methods to Train Future Teachers
Dr. Jennifer King works with her tech buddies on updating lesson plans with technology.
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Dr. Jennifer King's SMART Integration Project is receiving global recognition.
Dr. King, an assistant professor of education at Florida Southern, and her students are currently featured in a video produced by the Canadian firm SMART Technologies, Inc., the worldwide leader in interactive whiteboards. FSC is the only SMART-certified college in the world, and the video is being used to show other colleges how they can better prepare education majors to use technology in the classroom.
At FSC, education majors are required to take Dr. King's course in instructional technology, where they learn to use SMART products and integrate them into the classroom. SMART's products are the whiteboards of choice for a growing number of school districts, including Polk County Schools, where most FSC education students will intern. SMART technology makes teaching more engaging, and students tend to retain information better because they are more engaged, says Dr. King. It hooks students immediately.
Through the SMART Integration Project, students are paired with K-12 teachers in local schools to serve as their tech buddies. Its a win-win situation, according to Dr. King. The student teachers put skills learned in class to work in a practical setting, and the K-12 teachers benefit from cost-effective training in classroom technology.
In Dr. King's class, "The students eat, drink, and sleep SMART technology," she says.
"I thought that if I could train the students well enough to be teachers in the field, I should also be able to give them the coaching skills to train in-service teachers."
The tech buddies, who are paid through a work-study program, are trained in technology skills, coaching skills, and lesson improvement.
A new partnership has been forged with St. Joseph's School, which moved into a new building near the College. St. Joseph's new building is fully equipped with SMART boards, and the FSC tech buddies have helped the teachers find new ways to use the technology. The teachers say it has made their lives easier because they dont have to lug around transparencies or dry-erase markers. First-grade teacher Sarah Woodsby (an '07 FSC graduate) uses the SMART board in her class every day, and she says her students delight in touching the board and making words and icons move around.
Tech buddies are also paired with faculty peer coaches at FSC to help them and their colleagues to better integrate technology into their classrooms. For instance, the peer coaches and tech buddies will meet with professors and look for opportunities to use digital scrapbooking or podcasting in classes. "In K-12, we transform lessons," says Dr. King, "but in higher ed, we will transform how professors teach."