I’ll never forget the first time I saw an interactive whiteboard on display. It was at a teacher convention, and I think that when I saw it I suddenly had visions of myself jogging around the flight deck of Discovery One on my way to Jupiter.* That hulking piece of interactive technology, mounted professionally at the front of my language arts classroom, would revolutionize the way I taught subject-verb agreement, thesis statements, and participial phrases. And imagine the wonderful ways I could enhance a class reading of Jack London’s “To Build a Fire.” Wow!
A series of reality checks suddenly knocked against the back of my head not unlike a rushing 2 x 4. Budget constraints. Limited software. Limited imaginations. Infrastructure shortcomings. Spotty Internet. Budget constraints. And, of course, there were the budget constraints. I moved on to the next booth, the sweet smell of molded plastic and high-tech circuitry forever lodged in my brain.
And so, every summer I hoped. I hoped that a grant might come through. I hoped that our principal would win the lottery. I hoped that a technology company would use our school in a pilot program. I hoped that when I returned to my classroom in August there would be a fancy-shmancy new interactive whiteboard mounted where—yes—my chalkboard used to be. No such luck.
Today, when I see a work colleague walk past with an iPad to demonstrate one of the apps in development here at The Mailbox, I wonder what it would be like to have an entire class armed with tablets. When it was yours truly called upon to help demonstrate our interactive whiteboard lessons to others at The Mailbox, I found myself dreaming of what could have been.
Did you find new technology in your classroom this year? If not, dream with us, and describe the technology you’d love to find in your classroom next week.
* Note: For you non-nerds and non-cinephiles, Discovery One was the name of the spaceship central to the science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey and controlled by the computer known as “Hal,” the HAL 9000.