As a teacher, you ask questions, either verbally or through a test. Getting answers is how you find out if your students understand what you’re teaching them.
But how would you teach an elementary school class if your students couldn’t talk?
That’s the challenge that Kayna Plaisted faces every day at the Karner Blue Education Center, a school for students with special needs in Circle Pines, Minnesota.
Some of her students are non-verbal, but she emphasizes that her students’ inability to speak does not mean they aren’t reading at their age level or communicating in other ways. Her class sizes may be small—about six students—and the students are from kindergarten to fifth grade. All of these factors require that Plaisted creates lessons that allow them to interact with her and the other students.
Using the Epson BrightLink 595Wi interactive projector, students can demonstrate their learning by manipulating the content with their fingers. If Plaisted is conducting a lesson on story structure and wants students to put scenes into sequential order, they can drag and drop the screenshots of scenes with their finger to put them in order. Plaisted and her students can then use the interactive tools, such as the pen tool, to annotate on top of the images to keep the lesson engaging.
“I used to have to print everything, cut out the pictures, laminate them—it would take hours,” Plaisted recalled. “Now I take the screen shots and pull them into the interactive tools area, and I’m ready for class.”
The projector’s interactive tools also give her the ability to prompt students for answers in a way that makes them feel like they came up with the answer on their own. Both the spotlight and highlight tools can be used to bring the students’ attention to a particular word or image, which may serve as a clue to an answer. These tools help Plaisted grab the students’ attention in a way that interactive white boards couldn’t.
“I have three education assistants in every class whose jobs are strictly to help the students pay attention, stay on task, have calm bodies, and participate,” Plaisted commented. “With the level of intensity our students have, anything to grab their attention is huge, and the projector works so well for that.”
Plaisted can further guide students during lessons using the Multi-PC Projection with Moderator Function and the iProjection App. They allow Plaisted to project more advanced students’ work through the BrightLink 595Wi to provide visual prompts for the rest of the class. This allows her to spotlight students’ different strengths and abilities all while keeping the lesson moving. Because the content is being projected from a student’s device and not a main computer on her desk, Plaisted is no longer trapped behind a desk or tied to a white board during her lesson.
“I can walk around the classroom as students work to see who is participating,” said Plaisted. “When I project exemplary student work directly from their devices as an example for other students, I can walk around and help those students who need more support. I can keep up that encouragement from across the room, which is fantastic.”
“I’m so glad the technology is here now,” said Plaisted. “I couldn’t imagine being a teacher 10, 15 or 20 years ago when they didn’t have these tools. They’re just amazing.”