Mimio Global Press

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
High-tech teaching gives instant results at Stanwood

by Amy Crawford

Pittsburgh, PA - November 22, 2010 - At Stanwood Elementary School, blackboards have become obsolete. Overhead projectors are gathering dust, and even raising your hand to answer a question has gone out of style.

This year, with the completion of a $17 million renovation, the Hempfield Area school boasts state-of-the art classrooms, including interactive audio-visual systems that enable teachers to keep track of which students have grasped each day's lessons.

"It was like Christmas three weeks ago," Principal Raymond Burk said, referring to the delivery of new Mimio brand interactive teaching systems.

The new systems enable a teacher to project his computer screen or a portable camera's view onto a whiteboard. He and his students use a special stylus, which sends a wireless signal to the system, allowing them to write or draw on the screen. The system can record the lesson so the teacher can refer back to it later. When he wants to quiz students to make sure they understand, he can poll them with small remote controls that allow them to vote on the answers to multiple choice questions.

"Instead of waiting for them to raise their hands, you give them that little device," Burk said. "We have kids coming to us and they're playing videogames. What happens is we now provide that during the school day. We can get them engaged and active. That's essential for these kids."

One recent afternoon, kindergarten teacher Danielle Correll demonstrated the system with her class, asking them to vote on which of four words had the sound "at" in it.

"Would you like to see our pie graph?" she asked.

"Yes!" the class cried.

"Let's see how many people got it right," she said, tapping the screen to change its display. The colorful graph showed 75 percent of the class had gotten the correct answer, "sat."

"It keeps their attention," said first-grade teacher Jennifer Pallitto, who uses the system to demonstrate math problems and to create graphs for science class. "It's an incentive because they want to be able to use it."

Other Westmoreland County schools, including Burrell, Franklin Regional and Greater Latrobe, have adopted interactive classroom technology in recent years. Teachers and school officials say that the technology helps them educate today's generation of students, who have become accustomed to using computers at very early ages.

Burk pointed out that the students in Correll's class had used their voting devices intuitively, even though they were only in their third month of kindergarten.

"We weren't raised with this technology in front of us every day," Burk said. "They are."