Taking advantage of technology

Oak Bay Rotary helping children in greater community

Quadra elementary Grade 1/2 split class teacher Jeanette Di Biase uses a smartboard  to teach a geography lesson. Another board

Quadra elementary Grade 1/2 split class teacher Jeanette Di Biase uses a smartboard to teach a geography lesson. Another board

Quadra elementary students are about to get a little smarter.

The school is preparing to install a brand new smartboard in one of its classrooms, thanks to a donation from the Oak Bay Rotary Club. The $4,500 piece of equipment – a 21st-century take on the traditional classroom blackboard – is the third smartboard the organization has gifted in recent years and the second given to Quadra. The other board was donated to George Jay elementary, also in Victoria.

Members of the Rotary Club and the school’s Parent Advisory Council were on hand Friday to observe a Grade 1/2 split class taking part in a smartboard-assisted geography lesson on the first donated board.

“There’s so much you can do with it,” said teacher Jeanette Di Biase. “It makes teaching so much fun.”

The students seem to be more attentive when the smartboard is in use, added principal Maureen Weston. “I’d say the class is definitely more tuned in,” she said. “It’s more visual, they can see more clearly. For today’s kids, this is the way we’re really going to keep them motivated.”

Smartboards are used with a projector and are linked to a teacher’s computer. Lessons can be obtained online or teachers can create their own and share them with fellow educators. The board operates similar to other touchscreen technologies, such as smartphones. Users can move things around the board using their fingers or specially designed pens. It all adds up to a more interactive learning experience for the student.

“I think that’s really important to the kids who are very visual learners,” said Weston.

One of Rotary’s mandates is to promote literacy, especially in children, and these boards go hand in hand with that mission, said Oak Bay Rotary president-elect Joan Peggs.

“The first project we had here was to give them bilingual dictionaries, and we wanted to see what else we could do,” she said.

The smartboard donation is just one of several projects undertaken by Oak Bay Rotarians in recent months. Two weeks ago leaders of its youth leadership group, the Interact club, made a donation to the organization’s Rabbits for Rwanda project. The initiative helps people in that African country live sustainably by teaching them how to raise their own food.

Yesterday (June 14) the Rotarians presented Oak Bay municipality with a $28,000 cheque to assist with renovations to the Carnarvon Park spray pool. The funds will cover half the total cost of the work, with the other half being covered by the municipality.

Quadra’s new smartboard will be installed in time for the start of the 2011-12 school year.

editor@oakbaynews.com