PUZZLE PIECES - Bruning teachers sit down at an ActivTable being demonstrated by Keith Mann (left) of Promethean. Teachers include (from top left, clockwise) Karen Doyle, Jessica Adamiec, Lisa Fetherling, Jen Morris and Nikki Shell.
Eric Fisher Publisher
Teachers at Bruning Elementary School sat down to a high-tech teaching tool last week and they liked what they saw.
A demonstration of the Promethean's ActivTable was done at the pre-kindergarten through first grade learning center Wednesday. The table is like an oversized iPad with a multi-touch interactive screen long enough to sit six adults.
At approximately 3 feet by 4 feet, the ActivTable is a smart table with cutting-edge multi-touch technology using educational software and activities specifically designed to help teachers introduce collaborative learning to students in grades K through middle school.
"While the iPad is great for one-to-one learning, the ActivTable brings about working collaboratively as a group," demonstrator Keith Mann explained. "That's the key difference with the ActivTable. Collaboration skills are critical for success, later for studying, adult life and in work, and this is the tool to teach them how to work together."
Mann demonstrated several of the 40 applications teachers use for team building. Each teacher sitting at the table during the demonstration had to participate to complete a task. On the simple end, there were puzzle pieces scattered around the desktop. Each teacher had to grab a digital piece and work with their neighbors to fit them together.
The more difficult applications involved teaming up for math matchups, making consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words, taking measurements and more. For older students there are applications to teach geometry, history, science and more.
"Students do individual tasks that help move their group toward accomplishing a common goal," Mann said.
Joe Welps, of Wilmington, lined up the demonstration with the district. His interest, not only as a salesman, was to bring the latest technology to District 209U schools.
"The ActivTable has been available for about six months now and it's getting a lot of attention," Welps said. "One of the neat things happening in classrooms where they have the table is the fast-learners work to help the slow learners. There's this teamwork that develops no matter what their skill level may be."
With up to six students working and collaborating around a 46-inch multi-user interface, with a nearly unlimited number of simultaneous touch inputs, classroom collaboration knows no bounds.
Learners can not only work collaboratively on a single activity, such as sorting shapes or building sentences, but can also engage in project-based learning tasks.
Mann said teachers can customization ActivTable activities to meet group and individual learning objectives. It often motivates students of varied learning styles and levels to want to learn too.
The table reports on each student's contribution during a project, helping to ensure that every learner is actively engaged.
Bruning Principal Venita Dennis said the teachers really enjoyed the interactive table.
At a retail price of $8,000 to $10,000, it would be up to the Board of Education to decide if a purchase is merited.