DSA – Doral News: Divine Savior Academy Named First SMART Exemplary School in Florida

In 2015, Divine Savior Academy opened the doors to their newly constructed High School building. Before the doors of this building were opened, there was one SMART Board on the Divine Savior Academy campus, integrated and utilized by the High School Chemistry teacher, Mrs.

Kristina Troge. The Instructional Technology Department (ITD), headed by Director of Instructional Technology, Mr. Michael Babler, wanted to integrate interactive technology on the recently expanded campus and asked Mr. Phil Kurbis to look into various interactive technology and report back on findings. Mr. Kurbis had taught with interactive hardware and software since 2009 in both Arizona and Washington state before joining the Divine Savior Academy staff in 2015. He had experience with the interactive software, Notebook, and two different interactive flat panels from a company called SMART Technologies. SMART Technologies is a Canadian-based technology company specializing in educational technology. Since 1991, SMART Technologies has been the pioneer and perfecter of interactive hardware and software in the classroom. Mr. Kurbis’ passion and knowledge about interactive technology became a resource for the ITD.

The ITD designed a well thought out integration plan, the first being to test out various companies’ interactive hardware and software, and report findings. Several teachers who were interested in helping the integration plan tested three different companies’ products in their instruction. They integrated the hardware and software into their curricula and reported their feedback via a survey Mr. Kurbis developed. The group of teachers decided unanimously that SMART Technology’s 6065 interactive flat panel (IFP) and interactive software, Notebook, was by far the most user-friendly, and engaging in their instruction. The SMART 6065 IFP and Notebook software, connected with trained teacher methodology, truly transforms the learning environment from being teacher-centered to student-centered.

During a three-year phase-in plan, Mr. Kurbis worked closely with Mr. Babler in creating an integration plan. It was decided that, based on research, Divine Savior Academy would integrate the SMART 6065 IFP in all of its elementary school’s classrooms, and middle and high school’s Math

and Science classrooms. Divine Savior Academy currently has twenty-four of the SMART 6065 IFP in twenty-four different classrooms, outfitting every 2nd through 5th Grade classroom and all Math and Science rooms in our Middle and High School. Divine Savior Academy also has two 800 series

SMART Boards outfitting two additional rooms.

The teachers at Divine Savior Academy utilize these panels to help shift the learning from teacher-centered to student-centered. The SMART IFP provides the learning environment to become interactive, as each movement with a hand or pen is a natural function. Teachers create various activities that can be distributed to student devices, allowing them to get formative feedback that is individualized for each student. Teachers work together in lesson planning and creation. The lessons can be shared through SMART Learning Online Suite and delivered by one teacher on different panels throughout the day, or by several teachers on various panels at the same time. A few of the several engaging and enhancing lessons that currently take place are science earthquake simulators, virtual field trips to modern day and ancient historical sites, analyzing global weather patterns, embedding notes on PowerPoint presentations, and graphing complex mathematical equations. The learning environment has become a limitless space with learning possibilities, and the teachers work hard at maximizing the potential of the classroom.

Teachers at Divine Savior Academy are creating lessons that provide the learning environment to be more engaging. They are allowing the students to demonstrate their understanding in an interactive way, utilizing various lessons and gamification activities to measure learning. The teachers and school as a whole are continuing to improve and implement best teaching practices to provide the best learning environment possible for our future community leaders.

SMART Technologies recognizes the implementation and recognition of their products coupled with the learning that takes place and has recognized Divine Savior Academy as a SMART Exemplary School, the first in the state of Florida. This recognition confirms that Divine Savior Academy is doing the right thing in providing the best environment for both its teachers and students.