ActivPanel Success at the Simmons Career Center

ActivPanel Success at the Simmons Career Center
By Marisa Cobian August 26, 2015

Simmons Career Center (SCC) in Plant City, Tampa, Florida is part of the Hillsborough County School District. Simmons is a little different than many schools; its students range in age from 15 to 20 in grades 8-12. Simmons students, for the most part have lost pace with their classmates in traditional classroom settings. SCC as an alternative high school offers students the opportunity to close the credit gap to graduation, as well as discover future career options. For these students, SCC is the fast lane to academic success.

The Learning Challenge

Marisa Monroe teaches two junior/senior English classes at SCC, with 15 and 27 students, respectively, in each class. Regardless the size of her classes, Monroe’s goal is to personalize learning, to the best of her ability, for each student. In planning, she is challenged, as so many other educators, to provide the variety in her lessons for maintaining student interest. This engagement is especially important with students that have not faired well in traditional classroom environments. Monroe knew she needed to do something different.

Ms. Monroe strives to keep the interest of the students so that they do not lose focus or become more interested in their cell phones or other potential distractions surrounding them. Her students claim that when there are multiple types of media being used, there is a lot of switching around and it is easy for them to get distracted. With the ActivPanel there is one board/screen and everything the teacher does is in one place. As she said, “everything is seamlessly connected” and the transitions are just as seamless so there aren’t as many issues with students losing focus.

ActivPanel is a new class member

Monroe recently added a Promethean ActivPanel to her classroom to help increase teacher/student interactivity. The ActivPanel has everything an educator needs in one place. She believes her students are more consistently focused, too. “It forces me to think outside the box, and keeps me on my teaching toes,” says Monroe. Monroe feels it has improved her teaching practice, along with her lesson creativity. Students, now, want to engage more, and feel learning is less of a chore.

More than a teaching time saver

Every educator, including Monroe, understands that time is valuable inside and outside the classroom. She feels that the lesson planning and better classroom transitions have helped her regain time usually spent frantically trying to produce material for lessons. She’s discovered that ActivPanel is an easier and quicker way to do that, and she’s also found that it allows her to experiment with new material, too, that before might not have even entered her teaching thinking—and furthermore, never be part of her lessons. Monroe’s favorite thing is the ActivPanel “Save” feature. Using it, she can quickly save her lessons and student work in one place to have it for future lessons and reference.

Technology safe zone

Monroe feels that her students are natural users of technology. “I’m always learning from my students”, she says. According to Monroe students seem less anxious, and have more confidence using the ActivPanel. “I get to step out of my comfort zone to be in theirs,” says Monroe. It is almost like a “safe zone” for them to be able to interact with technology while still learning. Monroe has witnessed an improvement and retention in skills learned. She finds that students are better able to quickly research and organize better using the ActivPanel. Skills valuable in any learning environment and in future careers as well. Monroe also points out that to at least one student, who uses the Activpanel to produce artwork at lunchtime, it has been a daily therapeutic event as well. “He seems to be happier and more social since spending time doing his art on the ActivPanel,” says Monroe.

Taking participation and learning to the next level

Marisa Monroe believes that her ActivPanel has not only changed and improved the way her students learn, and the way her classroom operates, but also her teaching style. She is now able to be more creative with her lessons in an interactive way with her students. She combines the Internet with different media options to make her lessons a more holistic learning experience. Monroe can give every student more, necessary personalized attention, and watch them learn and grow as individuals. She says that it has taken participation and learning in the classroom to the next level. “What has changed the most is student willingness and desire to learn. You know it’s good if students still talk about lessons the next day. I owe it to myself to take my lessons to the next level, especially with this amazing piece of equipment, It’s an incredible resource at my fingertips,” says Monroe.

Watch teacher, Marisa Monroe and her students share how the Promethean ActivPanel has improved teaching and learning at the Simmons Center.

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