Yukon students engage with new technology

547 Smart interactive panels funded through YPS bond issue

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Teacher Heather Cromwell leads a math lesson using the new Smart interactive panel in her fifth-grade class at Independence Intermediate School. Yukon Public Schools has purchased 547 of these 75-inch displays at a total project cost of $2,767,560.27. (Photo by Conrad Dudderar)

Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles highlighting projects funded through a $194 million bond issue package approved by Yukon Public Schools’ voters in November 2021.

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

The latest technology is providing Yukon students with a deeper level of engagement during their class lessons.

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As part of a district-wide initiative, all Yukon school classrooms are receiving Smart interactive panels.

Some 547 of these 75-inch displays are being provided through Yukon Public Schools’ 2021 bond issue. Total project cost is $2,767,560.27.

Classrooms at all Yukon school sites are expected to have the new interactive displays up and running by early September, according to YPS instructional technology coach Amanda Oneth.

“They will be in every instructional space in the district,” Oneth said.

Unlike a traditional Smartboard, the Smart interactive panel does not need to be plugged into a computer or require a projector.

“This is actually an ‘all-in-one’,” Oneth explained. “You get a really nice, crisp, clear picture. Whatever the teacher is projecting, the students don’t have to squint or move around the room.”

These Smart interactive displays are receiving positive reviews from YPS teachers – even those who aren’t quite tech-comfortable.

“Teachers can walk into a room, turn on a board and start using it,” Oneth added. “They have access to graphic organizers, virtual manipulatives, anything in their Google Drive, and any of their online curriculum. With a quick sign-in, they can start using all of that.”

Smart panels were installed over four days this summer in all 54 classrooms and the conference room at Independence Intermediate School, 500 E Vandament.

“It’s a game changer for kids,” Independence Principal Amy Young said. “It’s a great equalizer. Every single student in Yukon has access to this learning tool.

“We had classrooms here that didn’t even have an old Smartboard. This (Smart interactive panels) has dramatically increased the accessibility of learning tools that teachers can utilize for their classrooms.”

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A Smart interactive panel has another key advantage over a normal Smartboard.

“These boards have the ability to share whatever’s on the screen with the students,” Oneth said, “and allow the students to interact on a ‘different level’ with the lesson.

“With a traditional Smartboard, one person could come up and interact with it. That was kind of limiting, engagement-wise.”

These interactive displays feature multiple points of touch, and the ability for teachers to push it out to their students’ hand-held Chromebooks.

“So, everyone in your class can interact and be a part of the lesson,” Oneth explained.

These new Smart panels also make it easier for substitute teachers to use the technology.

The equipment was funded through a $194 million bond package, which Yukon voters passed by a more-than 70% majority in a November 2021 election.

“We definitely thank the community for approving the bond issue, which has allowed us to replace the whole district,” Oneth said. “Our teachers now have more tools in their hands to engage their students in the classroom and have a better balance of time on devices.”

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