For many students at Leggee Elementary School in Huntley Area District 158, the days of walking down the hall to the computer lab are a thing of the past. Nowadays, the classroom is a computer lab with devices like SMART Boards and iPads readily available.
Scott Iddings, principal at Leggee Elementary, staff members and students shared their experiences using technology in the classroom with the school board at Thursday's board of education meeting.
"The days of the isolated computer lab are over," Iddings said. "We are moving toward an interactive classroom."
From social studies to mathematics, teachers said technology makes abstract concepts simpler for students to understand. There are games and activities that reinforce the skills students have learned and the interactivity of seeing or hearing their work immediately also encourages students to get involved in their learning, teachers said.
"Having a SMART Board in the room has revolutionized teaching," said Amy Goldberg, a third-grade teacher at Leggee. "I get 100 percent participation because students want to get up there and touch the screen."
The school currently has more than 40 SMART Boards, three SMART Tables, and nine iPads that have been purchased by the Parent Teacher Association, grants and funding.
Iddings said students need technology that they are accustomed to in the classroom.
"Students are ready for this now," Iddings said. "They are reading on devices at home whether it's an iPad, their parent's Nook or Galaxy tablet device. They are regularly interacting with technology and they are comfortable with it."
In some cases, students even show their teachers a few tricks. Ben Cornett, a 10-year-old fifth-grader figured out how to connect several iPads using the Bluetooth connection so that his teacher, Nancy Tomaso, could view students' work on her own iPad.
Ben may be a whiz with the iPad, but he said he prefers the SMART Board.
"The SMART Board is the best because the whole class can use it," Ben said. "The iPad, everyone has to have one (rather) than having the whole class do something together."
Ben's mother, Lynne Cornett, said the devices have given Ben more motivation and improved his literacy skills.
"The feedback is instant, and they can learn from their mistakes while they are still fresh in their heads," Cornett said. "It is more fun and he can't wait to get home to get on Spelling City or Raz Kids."