Necessity the mother of invention

By Helen de Wet

It’s policy at Marist Brothers College Linmeyer for every student to carry a reading book in his or her book bag.

In keeping with this dedication to reading, top teaching team Tracey Myburgh and Althea Briers realised that if they teach primary school learners basic skills, they will be carried over to the high school years, creating learners that know their way around information and how to get it. This dynamic teaching duo embraces the concept that while juniors are learning to read, seniors need to read to learn. Myburgh and Briers’ determination to invent vibrant and exciting lessons using SMART technology had an exciting consequence. They entered VastraTech’s SMART Exchange Competition… and won!

On 25 November 2011, Gary Bekker (managing director) and Diane van Niekerk (marketing manager) of VastraTech presented Myburgh and Briers with R5 000 for themselves and R15 000 worth of SMART Classroom Suite software for the school.

Using SMART to make the Resource Centre accessible

The state-of-the-art 1 750 m2 Resource Centre at Marist Brothers, Linmeyer includes designated work spaces for pre-primary, primary and high school learners and teachers. There are sections for periodicals, picture books, fiction, non-fiction and reference books, a computer centre, an audiovisual room, an auditorium, amphitheatre, conference room, kitchen, toilets, administration and control rooms – and huge amounts of double-volume space to flop down on beanbags and devour books!

But how to get little learners familiar with this space? Enter the SMART Board and Myburgh and Briers’ first lesson on finding your way around the library! With an interactive map, movable labels and rules that smile at you when you get them right, suddenly this huge space is rendered usable by small, but empowered children.

Myburgh and Briers also composed lessons called ‘Parts of a Book’ and ‘The Dewey Classification System’, useable by language, arts and culture and natural sciences teachers. These lessons encourage learners to engage with the SMART Board to move from their own tacit knowledge, through discovery and problem solving, to a refined working knowledge of the Dewey System. These lessons emphasise the process that is inherent in learning.

Grade 6 Marist Brothers, Linmeyer student Chloe, who participated in these lessons, says: “When I came to this school, I thought the library was a place to be quiet and study. Now I know that it is much more. I felt excited to use the SMART Board. It’s fast, colourful and has fun pictures that our teachers can’t draw on the board! I liked moving things around. I’ll remember everything better now.”

SMART technology gets students and teachers passionate

Myburgh and Briers are passionate about literature. However, they know they must provide for their students’ life skills needed to function in a technological world. They see SMART technology as an addition to the world of books – an enhanced way of developing learners to be as passionate about the written word as they are. When they first started using the SMART Board, Myburgh and Brier found there was a limited amount of interactive resources available online for their subject, Information Skills. Although the quantity has increased over the years, Myburgh and Briers still encourage other teachers to submit their SMART lessons online (www.exchange.smarttech.com). Teachers are welcome to download the lessons, to edit them, and make them their own. As Myburgh says, “Teachers need to learn to share more!” SMART Exchange is a worldwide collaboration: colleagues everywhere helping to make YOU a better teacher – now how SMART is that?

Category: Winter 2012

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