Thanks to excellent PD provided by Nick, said Lavine, teachers quickly began integrating the ViewBoard into their curriculum and were initially satisfied with using it as a shared resource. (“Back in the pre-COVID days we could do that,” noted Lavine.)
“Nick made the training very hands-on and everyone picked it up quickly,” Lavine said, acknowledging that she herself was a bit nervous about learning to use the display. “A teacher said, ‘Laura it’s just a big iPad’ – so I told myself, I can do this, and it ended up being easy. Our teachers took to it very quickly.”
Soon, however, teachers began asking to have one of their own, so Lavine purchased four more, equipping other classrooms – including every general education classroom – with a ViewSonic ViewBoard interactive display.
“They told me that there was so much more they could do if they had one full time in their rooms,” said Lavine. “Fortunately, we received a grant from an area bank that enabled us to purchase more.”
Along with outstanding customer service, Lavine said the displays themselves did not disappoint.
“The quality of the onscreen picture is extremely high, the sound is good, and the user interface is very intuitive,” she said. “Half of our faculty is over 60 yet everyone is using them. Everything about these displays is great. They are easy to use and there’s been nothing glitchy at all. We love them.”
When schools across the country began closing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, Lavine said she was the first one in their county to announce the closing of a school.
“I was confident in doing so because I knew we could handle teaching remotely thanks to the technology and training we had invested in,” she said. “We closed school on Friday March 13th, then on Monday March 16th we were fully online for the next three and a half months.”
When the start of the next school year came around, Lavine opened the doors of SHDS knowing they had the pieces in place to keep everyone safe: small class sizes along with masking, maintaining socially-distanced classroom pods, and the addition of six-foot clear plexiglass booths around each student desk.
“When it came to teaching effectively under these conditions,” she said, “The ViewSonic ViewBoard displays helped tremendously – I don’t think it’s too much to say that they’ve saved our school day.”
In many ways, teachers used the ViewBoard displays exactly as they had for their first seven months at the school – working collaboratively with students using apps like Go Noodle, Brain Pop, Kahoot, Padlet and more. Under these new conditions, the large screen with crisp, clear images made it possible for every student to see and hear lessons clearly, said Lavine. Older students, who could be counted on to take care and use hand sanitizer appropriately, continue to get up and work at the boards.
What has made the biggest difference during the pandemic, said Lavine, is the ability to connect with those who used to come into the building – guest readers, authors and the like – along with the ability to connect to the world at large.
“Once a week, the cantor from an area synagogue came to school to teach Jewish music. Now she connects via Zoom so students get the that same half hour of music each week, displayed on the ViewBoard,” said Lavine. “The same goes for our monthly Kindergarten storyteller. These displays are allowing us to stay connected; they’ve opened up the world to us more than we would have thought possible during this pandemic.”
Another invaluable result of having ViewSonic ViewBoard displays in each classroom during these COVID times is the ability to keep the school’s traditions alive and well. One such tradition is the morning meeting, which, during typical times, brings students of all ages together in one room to get to know one another and share Torah portion lessons. It’s a tradition with countless student benefits, including the development of leadership and public speaking skills. The ViewSonic ViewBoard displays have enabled a nearly seamless continuation of this tradition.
“Every classroom turns on their display and everyone is together virtually,” said Lavine. “The sixth graders still run the meeting and get the leadership experience. Even though the classrooms are just 20 feet apart, the ViewBoard displays are what bring us together as a community.”
Day-to-day instruction continues within each classroom “pod,” bolstered by the combined use of the ViewSonic ViewBoard interactive displays and individual student devices.
“A teacher’s creativity is the only thing that limits the use of the ViewBoard displays,” said Lavine. “And all of our teachers are really enjoying coming up with ways to use their ViewBoard for instruction.”
A Hebrew teacher uses the Padlet app for teaching Hebrew. Sixth graders read the book Wonder, then watched it on the classroom screen. First graders learn about nouns and verbs using the Kahoot app and respond to questions on the big board using their individual devices. Just about every teacher mines YouTube for resources to display on their classroom ViewBoard.
“These teachers are among the most collaborative and hard-working I have known in forty years, and they were - and are - eager to learn about new resources,” said Lavine. “The ViewSonic ViewBoard displays boosted their capabilities both in terms of what they do in their classrooms and in terms of getting them adjusted to learning and teaching remotely through technology.
“The ViewBoard displays don’t just come in handy, they’re invaluable.”