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Shirley Zentmire-Salas

ESL Teacher Uses Interactive Whiteboards
Year One

Description: Shirley is a middle aged attractive woman with chin-length dark hair. She is wearing a dark print dress, long beaded necklace, and eyeglasses.

Shirley Zentmire-Salas: Good morning. I'm Shirley Zentmire-Salas known to my students as la maestra loca. I represent the ESL Department of Bakersfield Adult School. Our school serves over 27,000 students a year. We currently have 32 ESL classes on campus, 10 ESL distance learning classes, and 26 off-campus ESL sites, including a couple of businesses and one of the markets in town. We actually have a school going in the back room of the supermarket to train their employees. I've been teaching ESL for nine years, Literacy through Level Four. Before that I worked for ROP as a finance instructor for about 13 years. Many moons ago, I actually was a trainer and training director for 14 years in the finance industry and one of the things I was involved in when I was much, much younger was helping implement the use of computers in the banks. We started out, we had a teletype machine when I was a teller and that was it; no ATM machines which I can't imagine life without an ATM.

Description: The first slide is called Teachers Were Struggling to Keep Students Interested. There a two animated graphics of teachers working at the chalkboard. The bullet point is:

  • Old methods worked before — why not now?

Shirley: Okay. One of the problems that we realized is that we were all struggling with trying to do the best we could and trying to keep abreast of current trends. We're teaching people who crave and demand HDTV, Bluetooth, YouTube, DVDs, CDs, MPGs, GPS, iPods, and cell phones that do everything except feed the dog. Our schools have a difficult time keeping textbooks current. Information overload? We're in the middle of it and we feel that every day.

Description: The next slide is also animated. There are three piles on books. Each book builds in sequence. The title of the slide is Books are Stockpiled and the bullet point is:

  • Out-of-date and out-of-sight, don't open my cabinets!

Shirley: Materials that we have are often out-dated or they've been updated as soon as we buy a copy, then it's updated again, unsophisticated, or blocked. What are we using? We're using dry erase boards which, prior to that was the chalkboard. That's not much progress.

Description: The next animated slide shows a computer turned into a prison and someone trying to escape. The title is We Are Victims of Outdated Technology! And the bullet point is:

  • Students were bored; teachers were bored; lessons were boring!

Shirley: Ceiling projectors along with some teachers are still using overhead projectors, and many schools still use VHS for their videos. And I know I'm guilty of having VHS tapes in my classroom that I use and I bet many of you probably do the same.

Description: The slide – We Were Going in Circle Trying to Modernize Our Lessons shows an animated astronaut spinning in the air as if weightless. The bullet point is:

  • We looked ready for change, but were we ready?

Shirley: We felt like we were going in circles trying to modernize our programs and we knew we had to stop and make a commitment to upgrading our teaching tools. Our campus recently installed self-flushing toilets as restrooms are renovated and we have a huge digital billboard at the front of the school with announcements, however these things don't have an impact on student persistence. Okay.

Description: The audience chuckles. There are two slides back to back. The first says Out of the Blue Came TIMAC and Shirley too! With the bullet point:

  • And her mentees Sau Ling, Denice, Bonnie, Bob and Shirley Jr. Ready to spring into action when the Smart Boards arrive.

The second slide is called “Smart Teachers, Smart Boards”

  • Coming soon to a Smart Board near you
    • Dynamic lessons
    • Interactive
    • Easy to retrieve for review
    • No more charts!
    • Save a tree!

Shirley: Thanks to TIMAC and EL Civics and CASAS funding, which we depend on completely, we've been able to start a project putting us on the cutting edge of technology. Our real challenge is not money; it's preparing and convincing teachers to change their lesson delivery. We will be training enthusiastic mentees as soon as possible and creating usable programs. This week, SmartBoards are being installed in the classrooms of the mentees that I have. I did have photos of the mentees in action however, due to more technical difficulties; I was unable to include them in the presentation.

Okay, a little bit about my mentees, quickly. I have five right now. Bob is a doctorate in law, 27 years international banking, six years at the adult school. He teaches literacy and he wants to have access to more graphics and sounds. He usually has a student population that speaks seven to eight different languages. When we actually counted up, we have 20 different language groups currently at our school.

Denise – 20 years teaching international relations at colleges, one year ESL. She would like to have a picture dictionary at her fingertips. So, as a word comes up that she wants to explain, she could immediately access it on computer to bring up a picture and an explanation.

Okay, Sau Ling has 20 years in adult education, math, GED, and ESL and she says she gets tired of writing the daily agenda on the board, up to three times a day. She teaches day, afternoon, and night classes. Most of our teachers do more than one class.

And the other one that I have not met yet; her name is also Shirley. We have a separate campus for medical programs and the head of the vocational nurse program has had 32 years in nursing and she is looking forward to having interactive graphics. They're much more realistic than a textbook and I can imagine that. There's a lot out there, I've noticed, on the Web, for medical.

Smart Teachers, Smart Boards

Our greatest challenge is trying to find training time. Our school has morning, afternoon, and evening classes with mandated programs such as CASAS testing, EL Civics, and class sizes of 35 to 50 students per class. It's difficult to schedule training. One approach that my boss has approved, she's said that she would pay me if I would come in during the summer and work one-on-one with the mentees. And fortunately, all of the mentees are teaching summer school.

And my last part; another challenge I faced was a procrastinating assistant vice principal who last week told me he's returning to the classroom because administration isn't his cup of tea. So, I'm still waiting for him to schedule more SmartBoard training for me and I think, like Susan told us before, the SmartBoard presenters are not teachers. They're sales people and so the training isn't exactly what most of us had hoped for. We're readjusting timeframes but we're still going forward. Next year, I hope to have a whole lot more to report.

Description: Shirley is holding up a plastic hand with the forefinger pointing, mounted on a bright, yellow plastic rod.

Shirley: And my little addition to technology; I'm short; I found this at the educational supply store. If you have a SmartBoard and you need a ladder to reach the menu bar at the top of the screen, you can use this. And my boss suggested that when my mentees graduate that we present them with this. I won't say exactly what I told her, but it, anyway, I think it should be fun. Thank you.