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Aubrey Hammersley (left) watches Connor Johnson work on a math problem on a smartboard in Eme...
OROVILLE — Forget green boards and chalk, and even white boards with messy ink. Now some schools have smartboards, and the students like it.

A smartboard is a large, square interactive device that teacher Eme Moua uses in her combination fourth- and fifth-grade classroom at Plumas Avenue School in Thermalito.

The smartboard has mostly replaced the white board in Moua's classroom, and her students said they use it all the time.

"Ninety-nine-point-nine-percent," said fifth-grade student Aubrey Hammersley during class Tuesday morning. "We're a technology classroom."

Here's how the board works: One of four assigned students operates a program on an iMac computer. What the computer displays on its monitor is also projected on the much larger smartboard.

Moua said everything the students write or do on the smartboard also shows up on the computer, and vice versa.

With a swipe or a tap, students can enlarge or reduce images, highlight words and sentences, add video or animated figures, create designs and more.

They can also move a calculator onto the board and use it.

It's also used for math and language assignments.

During a math segment, equations on the smartboard corresponded with pages in booklets that each student worked in. Several of the children went up to the board to write the answers, and another student corrected those.

The smartboard is a touch-screen device as well as a board students can write on.

Student Dwayne Gregory said

the smartboard is different from the white boards they use in other classes.

"When you write, it's automatic ink," he said.

Automatic ink? Yes. The pens have color-coded tips that the computer sorts out. However, if someone picks up several pens, the color of the last one picked up is what shows up on the smartboard.

In addition to the iMac and smartboard, Moua also has a document camera, called an Elmo, that projects materials onto the smartboard that aren't in the computer program.

Moua's class has become so accustomed to using the smartboard, it's very hard when something goes wrong and they can't use it.

Student Roni Conn said the smartboard is cool because it has the Internet.

"You can find pictures on there and stuff," she said.

Another student said with a smartboard, he can write more neatly and it's not as blurry as the regular white board.

Moua said all classrooms have the document cameras, "but I'm the only one that has a smartboard."

Smartboards cost about $1,800 each. Moua said she would also like to have iPads in the classroom.

The students also use computers. At a computer lab, they worked on Power Point projects they'll share later in class.

Moua said she began using the smartboard during her third year of teaching, five years ago.

For her, smartboards are helping her students become knowledgeable about the technological world.

"It's our job to prepare them for it, getting them used to interaction with iPads, phones ...," she said.

"It's hard to keep their attention with a regular whiteboard," she added. "(The smartboard) engages them more and it makes it fun for them."

At nearby Nelson Avenue School, some teachers do have smartboards and the school also uses computer labs.

Nelson Principal Jim Walters said the school uses an interactive math program on computer desktops.

The district is currently encouraging parents to use the new portal, where they can log on, check their children's grades, assignments and other important information.

Walters said he sees technology expanding in schools, but it's limited at this point by the economy and budget cuts.

"We're not moving at the pace we would like to," he said.

He said having a smartboard in every classroom is their goal, and the district is also talking about how to incorporate iPads in the daily setting.

Both Walters and Moua indicated they still have to give students opportunities to actually write, to maintain the link between the hand and the brain.

Moua said her students have to solve problems on the whiteboard and paper, and she coordinates that work with the audio and visual learning technology encourages.

Said Walters, "I think we have to be careful that there is always that balance."

Staff writer Barbara Arrigoni can be reached at 533-3136, barrigoni@orovillemr. com or Twitter @OMRBarbara.