Technology products improve student outcomes in math and increase teacher collaboration
CALGARY, Alberta --- August 11, 2009 --- SMART Technologies announces the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has won the National Technology Innovation Award for Elementary Education (NTIA), with the help of SMART Board™ interactive whiteboards and SMART Notebook software. The winning project, dubbed ‘SparkPlug,’ accelerated and enhanced traditional professional development for primary school mathematics teachers by incorporating education technology products into their teaching practice and making online resources available to the professional teaching and learning community. SMART Board interactive whiteboards and SMART Notebook software were used with other products to enrich the learning experience for grades 3 and 6 students. Improvement in learning outcomes was confirmed by significantly increased performance on standardized tests. The number of grade 3 students achieving at the highest level in mathematics increased by 44 percent, while the number of grade 6 students performing at the provincial level increased by 22 percent. The SparkPlug program involved 50 educators and 1,100 students at 14 elementary schools, using 30 SMART Board interactive whiteboards in the northwest area of the TDSB, the largest school district in Canada.
Using SMART Board interactive whiteboards and SMART Notebook software to teach daily math lessons, teachers found students were more engaged, gained a clearer understanding of visual and core math concepts, and experienced overall improved learning outcomes. Ten half-day professional development sessions were conducted throughout the two-year period, during which teachers discussed best practices for mathematics instruction, learned about advanced features on the interactive whiteboard, and shared lessons. Teachers continued this collaboration throughout the year by participating in an on-line conference to further extend their learning and share mathematics Notebook lesson files. As a result of the improved student outcomes, improved teaching practice and improved teacher collaboration, the SparkPlug initiative was awarded the NTIA through the Learning Partnership, a national organization dedicated to bringing business and education together. Funding for the SMART Board interactive whiteboards was provided by the SMARTer Kids Foundation.
“In addition to the gains seen in student achievement after implementing the SMART Board interactive whiteboards, professional development delivered on the boards helped create a unified learning community,” says Cheryl Paige, principal of Joyce Public School, one of the participating schools and a coordinator of SparkPlug. “It reduced isolation of teachers and increased their strategies for teaching and learning.”
“SMART Board interactive whiteboards and SMART Notebook software are integral components of classroom technology that enable increased engagement and outcomes for students and teachers,” says Nancy Knowlton, SMART’s CEO. “The experience of the educators and students who participated in the SparkPlug initiative is echoed around the world and we commend these teachers on this two-year study and the subsequent National Technology Innovation for Elementary Education award they have received.”