A bird flying past the window. An itchy nose. Brightly colored shoelaces. Thoughts of lunch. All conspire to distract the five-year-old kindergarten students of her PS 345 Patrolman Robert Bolden classroom in Brooklyn, New York.
As Mrs. Griffin considered the problem, which was compounded by the fact that her class also had both Special Needs and English Language learners, she deduced a common denominator: many students couldn’t see her. If they couldn’t see her, they weren’t engaged, and therefore, they couldn’t learn.
And so she wondered. How could she keep 25 pairs of kindergartners’ eyes trained on her during a whole day of teaching? That’s when she considered a projector for the classroom. But where would she get the money?
But Mrs. Griffin points out that technology is only part of the solution. “We are performers; every day we are putting on a performance, and find a way to reach every one of those different learners.” And so she began to devise ways of applying the new technology to her lesson plans.
Bringing Lessons to Life
Combining imagination with preparation, Mrs. Griffin incorporated the projector into her daily routine. To make storytime more appealing and accessible to the entire class, Mrs. Griffin transforms each book into a mini-movie. She takes photos of every page, narrates the book, using her video-editing software at home. Then she projects the story in class.
“The book comes to life—they absolutely love it!” says Mrs. Griffin.
After one of her book-to-movies about a chameleon, Mrs. Griffin transitioned into an educational video on other animals that use camouflage in nature. Without the children even noticing, Mrs. Griffin was able to turn storytime into a lesson. “It helps supplement my lesson plans and opens their eyes to new things. The Internet is something that’s not accessible at home for my students.”
And it’s not just Mrs. Griffin who is over the moon about the projector—the students have shown their appreciation in ways that teachers love best. Attendance has risen, tardiness has dropped and, most importantly, the children’s schoolwork has improved. “It’s not just one or two students; it’s the class as a whole,” she said.
Classroom Projector Opportunities Abound
The more she uses the projector, the more applications Mrs. Griffin is finding for it. Rather than gathering 25 students around a small monitor to use an interactive CD, they can see it projected.
“There’s a math CD-ROM that comes with the enVision Math material we teach,” said Mrs. Griffin. “It helps with their scores and retention, because it’s interactive. It’s not just a teacher talking and giving instruction, they’re seeing it in play. It’s been a tremendous help.”
Every child can also see their “sight word” of the day, plus Mrs. Griffin uses her computer through the projector to display the “Daily Fix-It”, an intentionally error-filled sentence that the students are to correct. Although a dry-erase board used to suffice for this part of her lesson, the projector captures the students’ attention like nothing else.
“Even with a dry-erase board, I’d always hear ‘I can’t see!’ or ‘It’s too far away!’” We even tried using two dry-erase boards on either end of the room, but that didn’t work either. Now with the projector, everybody sees!”
Mrs. Griffin’s innovative application of technology combined with the generosity of the donations through organizations like DonorsChoose.org have given these children better tools for learning. Thanks to Mrs. Griffin, her students are not only more excited to come to school every day, but their learning and aptitude have been greatly enhanced.
Mrs. Griffin says it best: “Now that we’ve got the projector, we can’t live without it.”
Photo Courtesy DonorsChoose.org