By Lindsay Carey
St. Thomas Catholic School recently used a $25,000 grant from the Hoffman Foundation to purchase a Smart Table to use with pre-k through third grade classes and also installed new Smart Board projectors into the classrooms that did not have the technology.
Students and teachers at the school are excited about the Smart Table, as it allows for interactive learning.
“Smart Tables are kind of new, so not everyone has them,” said Principal MaryPat Wirkus.
From rhyming games to geography maps for identifying countries, the students of St. Thomas School are learning a great deal from the new technology.
Teachers are able to download pre-made games from Smart Exchange or they can devise their own games based on what students are learning through the program.
With just a USB flash drive, the teacher has full control of the table.
The idea is that students will be able to reinforce what they’ve learned in the classroom through activity on the table.
The table is set for eight touches, so up to eight students can use the board at a time.
“It teaches them how to work collaboratively,” said Margaret Markowski, a St. Thomas School’s kindergarten teacher. “It’s not just like its one person at a computer.”
Markowski said her students have already begun asking her several times a day when they will be able to get to use the table.
“They absolutely love it,” said Markowski. “They have all those things at home already; the iPads and cell phones and they play games on those, so they have picked this up really quick.”
Along with the Smart Table and Smart Boards, the school has also used the grant to purchase a new server and put funds towards an addition to the school.
Over the summer, all of the flooring was taken out of a portion of the school building and the playscape was taken down to make way for a new renovation project.
The new renovation will make the building handicapped accessible and will also add in more conference rooms and bathrooms.
“Although it will function primarily was a para center, the whole school will have access to it,” said Wirkus.
Wirkus said that construction will commence this week and the project will take around five months to be completed.
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By Lindsay Carey