Technology starts early at Sts. Joachim and Ann Catholic School in St. Charles.
Students in the junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes are utilizing SMART tables to learn letters, numbers and colors. The touch-sensitive tables are used for interactive activities through the collaborative learning center.
“The SMART table allows the students to have a hands-on experience with the curriculum,” said Jennifer Albrecht, junior kindergarten teacher. “We use it to reinforce previously taught curriculum and to help with the introduction of new concepts.
“The students are having so much fun, they often do not know they are learning.”
The school currently has a SMART Table 442i in both the junior kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms. Unlike a SMART board, which began showing up in area classrooms in the 1990s, the SMART table uses a camera rather than a projector, and a flat screen tabletop allows students to easily move around its perimeter.
“At this grade level the activities reinforce many skills: patterns, science, math, phonics, etc.,” said Principal Debbie Pecher.
Students also can work on mastering colors, number order and alphabet letters. In addition, the children can play games to match lower- and upper-case letters, and improve eye-hand coordination.
“The SMART table is a wonderful, educational tool for our classroom,” said kindergarten teacher Trudy Manuel. “It is a very large interactive table that can be used by multiple children at the same time.”
Manuel said the newer version has 1,500 activities that supplement the skills and concepts taught in kindergarten.
“They (the children) also are self-assessing. The children know if they are doing it right or have the correct answers,” said Manuel. “It is great to watch the children working together to complete each activity.”
Kindergarten student Emma said “The Number Card Game” is her favorite table activity.
“At the end if I get them right, the music says ‘dum dum da dum’ and I get a trophy on the table,” said Emma.
Kindergarten student Liam said he likes the Caterpillar Numbers activity.
“The circle keeps spinning when you get it right and if you get it wrong it doesn’t go around,” Liam said.
Manuel said she loves how excited her students get about using the table.
“They use the SMART table every chance they get,” she said.
Sts. Joachim and Ann school currently offers technology with SMART boards and computers in each classroom. SMART tables and handheld tablets also are available in some of the classrooms.
“Our hope is to increase not only the technical tools, like purchasing more handheld tablets for our middle school grades – in addition to the ones we have in our eighth grade – but also increase the technology classes that are being offered in areas of word processing skills and coding classes or camps,” Pecher said. “Technology helps students to become ‘empowered for life.’ Technology is the way of learning and will be the tools of business for our future generations.
“We have to have them ready.”