The smartboard is an excellent tool. I've had one in my 4th grade class for three years, started out on a rolling stand, then had it mounted on the wall. I use it almost everyday, but I don't view it as "the" major force in my classroom, that is, I find it very useful but I still use my chalkboards also. A Smartboard is great for kid interactions, videos on every topic (especially close-up insect videos), United Streaming of course, Jeopardy study games, projecting webcam screens with Skype and Sightspeed, demonstrating various "how to" instructions for blogging, wikis, using educational software, displaying kid work, Google Earth, and doing multi-school Internet projects. I guess it's the best kid magnet I've seen yet. Most of our k-5 classrooms have a smartboard. -- Terry
The Promethean System, at first does seem very costly. However, when you realize that their program was made "by educators for education" you realize you understand why the product is so valuable to education. I work in a district that has looked at several different options before we chose the Promethean platform. We tried out Ibid boards, Smartboards, Interwrite boards, and several others before choosing to implement the Promethean board. Our main selling point was that Promethean software had great tools already created for education. The others were just getting started with some of the interactive tools to use in the classroom. We felt that other boards that had begun in business and then crossed over to the education world probably were just getting started with their education software, so the Promethean software was already far more advanced than the others. We also really liked the fact that Promethean has it's own site, http://www.prometheanplanet.com , with resources that can be accessed by keyword, subject, or even state standard. I know the others are coming up with the same thing, but when you look at how educationally sound the Promethean solution is over the others, you see why the cost of this solution pales in comparison to the amount of resources and educationally sound programming you get with choosing a Promethean.
I have looked at both the Activotes and CPS IR clickers. The votes are nice but I like the reporting feature better on the others. Also, I can't do a student managed assessment with the votes. Is it always teacher managed?
SmartBoard also has all of the features listed above and the Senteo system of vote clickers does the same job. The only advantage of the Promethean Boards that I found was that it was a multi touch platform. However, you could still not use your finger to manipulate objects (at least at the time of demo). You had to use the pen to manipulate objects on the board.
There is something to be said about having that visceral touch of manipulating an object using your own hand as opposed to a pen or pointer. The students seemed to enjoy the Smartboard experience better as well.
However, when it gets right down to it is a matter of preference. Both platforms require some training to make full use of the interactive white boards. In our division, we went with Smartboard, I think we made a solid choice.
Promethean is a good product, but it wasn't the solution we were looking for and it might be more applicable to your situation. This debate could get as long winded as Mac vs. PC though. My only advice is that once you have chosen a product you should stick with it.
We have a SmartBoard for each grade level to share. I am using it to help students enhance their math skills and geography skills at present. It can be used in all subject areas.
Currently in Math we are learning rounding to 10s, 100s, 1,000s, and 10,000s. It will also be very helpful as we move on to addition and subtraction with regrouping.
In geography, students are using the smartboard to arrange the continents in the proper positions and add the Prime Meridian, Equator and the oceans.
At my Reception to Year 12 school we are gradually rolling them out into classrooms. All the Science labs have one, we have 3 in the Junior school and various others throughout the school. We have SmartBoards and they seem to be excellent for our needs. Since having one in my room I have decided I wil teach until I am 80! Some of the things I love are the highly visual nature that will engage even my most tricky 10 year old boys, the fact I do about 1% of the photocopying I used to (saving the trees and money), being able to access a whole library of videos and TV programs through the Clickview program we have running at our school, being able to take 'snapshots' using the tools so that we can write about things we have seen on web sites and videos, not getting wet becasue we can get radar pictures of approaching rain before going up the Sugarloaf mountain next to the school for our weekly walk, being able to teach proofreading by scanning student work into the system, using You tube videos such as the Evolution of Dance for in class fitness on wet days etc etc...
My next challenge is to incorporate class participation in wikis and blogs. Anyone doing some good things??