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When the Lesson Is Interactivity

To help students become more involved in the learning process, a Virginia district turns to Promethean's ActivClassroom.

About ten years ago Henrico County Public Schools in central Virginia began a "one-to-one" initiative to provide laptops for every student in grades 6-12. More recently, in an effort to sustain the district's commitment to technology, administrators began looking for ways to enhance their teachers' ability to deliver compelling lessons and improve their students' access to the latest classroom tools. It was a tall order for a system with more than 48,000 students, 7,000 employees, and 71 schools.

Fortunately, Promethean, a global leader of interactive classroom technology, had a solution. The school district contracted with Promethean to install its ActivClassroom — a collection of proven classroom tools and resources that work together to leverage interactive technologies, software and digital content—in hundreds of Henrico County classrooms.

Superintendent Dr. Pat Russo said the response from teachers and students has been overwhelmingly positive. "We want those 21st-century learning skills to really be enhanced," Russo said. "Promethean's ActivClassroom is a complete solution that allows teaching and learning to become more exciting and more alive. It helps us use the technology we have."

A key component of the ActivClassroom is the ActivBoard, an interactive, multimedia whiteboard that engages students with vivid images, video and audio. Teachers can project onto the whiteboard anything that can be seen or done on a computer screen. Henrico County Public Schools uses more than 350 interactive whiteboards and plans to purchase another 300 boards.

"It's an interactive device that allows students and teachers to provide that technological advantage of the interactivity during the teaching-learning process," Russo said. "It comes down to how well the teacher makes Promethean board part of the learning process. It allows his or her lessons to be crafted much more around interactivity than around the old lecture-and-look-in-the-book lesson."

"It's an interactive device that allows for students and teachers to provide that technological advantage of the interactivity during the teaching-learning process."

Promethean's wireless response devices ? ActivExpressions and ActiVotes ? enable teachers to deliver real-time personalized instruction. These devices have full alpha-texting capabilities and are frequently used for both multiple choice and short-answer assessments. Students participate in assessments by simply pressing the buttons on the device to answer questions, enabling the teacher to know immediately how many students in the class understand the lesson.

The ActivClassroom operates best when using ActivInspire, a software program that was developed specifically to support teachers. Using ActivInspire, which is available in 27 languages, teachers can easily lead classroom activity on the interactive whiteboard or create new lessons filled with animated graphics and multi-media digital content.

"All those things just make it fun to be in a classroom," Russo said. "It just improves that whole process and makes it an exciting opportunity to be in that classroom for the day."

Once the ActivClassroom is installed, Promethean provides teachers and other staff six hours of training in the use of the interactive whiteboard and other tools.

Promethean's bottom-line benefit? "The utilization of technology, the interactivity, the ability of kids to be involved in their lessons, the ability of kids to get out of their seats and get up to the boards," Russo said. "It's an ability you do not see in a normal classroom. Our staff in Henrico County has really enjoyed and embraced the idea of interactivity, and the Promethean ActivClassroom is the product that allows us to do that."

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