Monday, November 26, 2012

The Black Board in the Primary School: A Manual for Teachers

I recently came across the following publication entitled: "The Black Board in the Primary School: A Manual for Teachers," which can be found at the following link.
My initial reaction to this article was that I was shocked.  How in the world could a teacher have a black board or chalk board in his or her classroom and not know what to use it for?  I look at a chalkboard as an "ancient artifact" that belongs in the "Museum of Obsolete Objects."  (By the way, you can actually visit this museum on YouTube at  There are some really interesting videos on there.  Did you know that the fax machine has been considered an "obsolete object" since 1999?) Anyway, when reading through the manual above, I was amazed to find that the publication actually showed the teachers step by step directions as to how the black board should be used in the classroom in order o improve lesson instruction.  It went so far as explaining to the teachers to write strokes on the board to teach arithmetic, and to count each stroke one by one when doing so, so as not to confuse the students. Teachers were confused as to how to properly integrate black boards in their lessons in order to reach their students.  The black board was the ideal Education Technology tool to have in one's classroom in the mid-1800's.  It was designed to be a "luminous object" in the classroom.  The ideal size of black board to have in one's classroom was," the bigger, the better."
          My, oh my, how far we have come today!  When I first stepped foot in my classroom six years ago and saw that there was a black board there, I asked my admin, "Where's the dry erase board?"  There was absolutely no way I was going to use a black board in my classroom.  I personally could not stand using the chalk - it must have been a sensory issue with me.  I was given an overhead projector and a pull down screen.  I was then given a dry erase board later that school year.  A few years later, I was given a SMART Board to use in my classroom.  And believe it or not, I asked myself the same questions that teachers asked themselves back in the 1800's.  How was I going to use a SMART Board in my classroom in order to improve student learning?  I honestly had no idea.  When reflecting on this experience, I myself am no different than the teachers of the "black board era" of the mid-1800's.  What I do know is that technology - any Educational Technology that we are given - is a tool, it's merely just a tool.  It is easy for the technology to become a novelty and then become misused or overused.  It might be "cool" or fun, but is it really improving student learning?  No, it's become a toy instead.  Teachers need continuous professional development in order to keep up with today's technology which is constantly changing, myself included.  I have been working diligently to revamp my lessons in ways that will improve student learning and I am happy to say that I am seeing the fruits of my labor.  If teachers do not want to put in the time and training in order to improve their lessons and integrate Ed Tech effectively, then why bother using Educational Technology at all?  They might as well just read the manual "Black Board in the Primary School."

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