My CT has a very impressive, high-tech gizmo in her classroom called a SMART board. It is part LCD projector, projection screen, and touch-sensitive writing surface, all integrated together for some cool ways to deliver instruction, review problems, and get students involved at the front of the class. I, mostly, enjoy using it and students seem to get a kick out of working with it, once in a while.
The following graphic illustrates a typical SMART Board. It “knows” if you want to use black, red, green, or blue “ink” since the colored markers sit in a tray with a switch that is tripped upon lifting the pen from its slot in the tray; the same goes for the eraser. You cannot have both the eraser and a pen out simultaneously or it will not know if you mean to erase or draw something. It has some dedicated buttons near the eraser slot, which are poorly placed, in my opinion, and worse yet, force a screen calibration once pressed, which is not what I intended when the eraser, or my finger(s), glanced the button earlier today when I wanted to erase something.
The problem is, as I describe above, on occasion, like once or twice a class period, I bump or touch something unintentionally and “poof” I am off to some unrelated screen wondering what to do next. The cause of these mini-teleportations? Well, sometimes its my watch bezel, sometimes its my knuckles, any of which “select” a destination or function I had no desire of selecting, by coming in contact with a, not so well-placed, icon that is part of the application running, or the SMART board itself. And sometimes I inadvertently hit a mechanical button while selecting a marker or eraser. Each of these unplanned contacts with the SMART Board send me into a mild panic wondering how to get back to the place where I was working a problem or introducing a new concept. Thankfully, some students have seen my CT make a similar mistake so, if they remember, they tell me what to do, if my CT is out, or if she is in, she quickly helps out. Nonetheless, for what seems like an eternity, I am standing helplessly in front of the class, or madly touching various parts of the board hoping I find my way back to where I started, which happens once in a while. Most of the time, I start to feel a little dumb, working with what should be a simple extension of a “touchable” computer screen, however, with a unique application with which I am not expert, or even moderately familiar with, as a user. Imagine trying to learn a new software application, on a new hardware interface, standing in front of 35-40 students anxiously awaiting your every word; not! Instead, they are staring at you, wondering what you are up to, and whether they should help or hinder you in your current predicament, or just laugh out loud at the humor of the moment.
So, helplessly flailing in front of the class at times, I try to imagine calm beaches with water gently rolling ashore, the breeze blowing gently in the palm trees as the sun warms my body all the while sand crabs quickly bury themselves in the wet sand before a seagull swoops down to pick them up and gobble them down for a snack…oh, well, I’m not that great at soothing visualization either… 🙂
Guess it’s “back to the drawing board” for me, err, make that the DUMB board, no, no, the SMART board, yeah, that’s it.