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20 interactive boards installed at K-2 classes in Apache Junction

smart boards

Erika Longachre calls up a student to the front of the room. The Peralta Trail Elementary School teacher is teaching her kindergarten and first grade students the sound of letters, and she’s using an interactive board to do so.

Deegan touches the 75-inch screen and the letter “d” is displayed. Deegan pronounces the “d” sound and with Longachre’s prompt, the rest of her students follow suit.

Scenes like this are being repeated throughout Peralta Trail, Four Peaks and Desert Vista, the three elementary schools in the Apache Junction Unified School District. The district recently purchased and installed 20 of the interactive boards for K-2 classes, and the boards confirm what teachers and principals already knew: Students — and younger kids in particular — learn more quickly through a visual medium.

“The primary value of the boards comes from their interactivity,” said Chad Cantrell, AJUSD executive director of educational services. “They create possibilities that aren’t available with pen and paper, but they also make those basic pen and paper functions more engaging to students … When kids are engaged, they are learning. Interactive whiteboards provide an opportunity to engage students when used effectively.”

Or as Peralta Trail Principal Natalie Clement put it, “watching TV is something they’re already very good at. This is teacher-guided video learning. It’s visual and interactive.”

Clement said the boards — which replaced older Smart Boards — are superior because the clarity is improved and the classroom lights don’t have to be turned down when the screen is on. That allows students to work while they’re studying the screen.

Longacre said her students “are more inclined to pay attention,” when she’s using the board. Plus, they like to show off when they’re called upon.

“I feel the kids definitely participate more during a lesson on the ‘TV’ because I call them up to teach and they love showing off their skills,” she said. “They also help with all different types of students’ learning styles.”

Longacre said she uses the board to write words, make sentence corrections, do the alphabet and solve math problems.

“This board is pretty much a staple in my classroom,” she said.

AJUSD plans to buy 100 more of the boards after it receives its ESSER II funding sometime next spring.