Virtual learning

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Lockwood sixth grader Adrian Gallegos, 12, separates photos of schools into groups Tuesday with the infrared pen which part of the Mimio set up.

Liliana Castillo

Lockwood Elementary School teacher Allison Craig purchased software that can turn her whiteboard into a smart board for a fraction of the cost.

With a near $500 grant from the Clovis Municipal Schools Education Foundation, Craig purchased software called Mimio, which projects her computer screen onto the classroom’s whiteboard. It also puts out an infrared signal that reads an infrared pen, which can interact with the projected screen on the white board.

A smart board can cost anywhere from $1,350 to $1,600, and that cost doesn’t include a projector or rolling cart for the projector.

The setup saves anything Craig or her students write on the digital projection onto her computer and anything she can see on her computer can be projected onto the whiteboard.

“I can create lessons on my computer and show them to the class. It’s more colorful, more interactive,” Craig said.

Craig borrowed a set of Mimio equipment from the district’s technology department and knew she wanted one. Her sixth grade class missed the set up after she had returned it and waited for her’s to come in.

Craig said Mimio helps her lessons be more versatile because she can use the projection and she can write on the whiteboard with traditional dry erase markers. She said teachers are urged not to write on the smart boards with dry erase markers.

Tuesday, Craig’s class took turns sorting photos projected onto the screen through the Mimio setup into two groups. The students handed each other the Mimio pen and dragged the digital photos across the whiteboard to their group.

Craig was able to select each photo and drag one corner to make the photo larger so the students could see details and discuss them.

With the click of the infrared pen, she can move to the next slide at the end of the discussion.

With another click, she can click on links in her presentation and show her students footage of civil unrest in the 1950s.

Craig’s student, Devin Guss, 13, said he enjoys going up to the board now.

“It helps us learn a lot. Keeps us occupied better than the regular whiteboard,” Guss said.

He said he found it easier to pay attention to a lesson when he is able to get up and move and interact with the board.

Craig said her students are more willing to come up to the board with the digital projection.

The Education Foundation distributed about $25,000 worth of grants to teachers across the district in November. Executive Director Jan Cox said the foundation will award more grants in October.

Cox said Craig’s use of the equipment was innovative and creative, as is expected of the winning grant proposals.

“It’s a very motivating approach with students. Students love that kind of thing,” Cox said of the program.

Cox said Craig’s grant proposal focused on using the equipment for the language arts such as interactive vocabulary lessons.

“Vocabulary is a major element of reading and the bottom line is to improve student’s reading skills,” Cox said.