The Kankakee School District serves a student population of almost 6,000 learners who are spread across 11 schools. Among these are Taft Primary School and Kennedy Middle School.
With some of the district’s educational buildings constructed between the 1920s to the 1960s, Kankakee’s school board has made it one of their goals to continuously expand their construction efforts and modernize their classrooms so they can further accommodate the growing number of students in the area and provide them with better quality education.
The school district wanted to upgrade their existing edtech solution to one that is better suited to meet the needs of their teachers and students. The district staff had sought out several edtech solutions, but they found it challenging to pinpoint one that was fully compatible with their existing systems.
Schools in the district were already using platforms like ClassDojo for parent-teacher communications, as well as SMART Notebook and Promethean ActivInspire for lesson delivery. The new solution needed to be able to work seamlessly with these platforms to limit the unnecessary time and resources required for additional reconfigurations.
“We looked at six different models and we brought them all in and had our teachers look at them intensely,” says Melissa Fierro, the Kankakee School District’s technology integration specialist. During their trial period, they had teachers using different touchscreen solutions that rotated from classroom to classroom every week. This gave the teaching staff time to thoroughly assess the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
Ultimately, the district selected the BenQ Board Pro for their schools. According to Fierro, they have multiple reasons backing this decision. Among the factors she cites is its quick touch response. The teachers observed that the BenQ Boards are smoother and more natural to navigate with their hands and that the pens are also easy to write with.
“We looked at six different models and we brought them all in and had our teachers look at them intensely... We ultimately chose the BenQ Board.”
The most important criteria for them was how the BenQ Board fits seamlessly with their existing solutions. Through wired and wireless screen sharing, teachers are able to utilize their laptops with the board. They also experienced a smooth transition to BenQ as they were able to carry over their lesson materials from Notebook and ActivInspire.
Ashley Wheeler, a 1st grade teacher at Taft Primary School explains how the BenQ Board’s screen recording feature enhances the way she communicates lesson updates to parents on their existing ClassDojo platform: “I was able to record myself doing the problems… and we were able to post it onto ClassDojo directly from the board so that the parents could watch the video in case [their kids] were struggling with that concept.”
“I don’t think that I could function as a classroom teacher anymore without my BenQ Board,” says Tami Scheiwiller, a 2nd grade teacher at Taft Primary School. She notes how the board serves multiple purposes in her classroom. Aside from using the board to teach math and load reading games for her kids, she also uses it to get them energized: “Every day we do Just Dance 2 aerobic songs just to get the wiggles out. The kids love it.”
Elizabeth Turner, a 5th grade teacher at Kennedy Middle School shares how the BenQ Board has encouraged her students to participate more. With their previous solution, only one student could interact with the screen. But because of the BenQ Board’s multiple touch points, she says, “Everyone [wants] a chance to write on the board.”
“I don’t think that I could function as a classroom teacher anymore without my BenQ Board.”
“As you walk past the classrooms, you’ll not only see the teachers using [the BenQ Boards], but you’ll [also] see the students up and using them,” notes Elizabeth Gibson, assistant principal at Taft Primary School. She says that the engagement the technology brings helps the students develop into “21st century learners”.
According to Terrence Lee, principal at the school, the overall feedback from the community has been positive. Even the parents—after experiencing the BenQ Board difference during their PTA meetings—have expressed their satisfaction with the new solution. Because of this, the Kankakee School District is now planning on acquiring more boards.
“Our district’s goal with BenQ is to have a BenQ [Board] in every classroom,” says Fierro.
*Update: After the initial installations in 2020, the Kankakee School District acquired several additional units of the BenQ Board Pro (RP7503, RP8602, RP7502) in 2021 and 2022.