This Article is About
overhead projectors
value time
technology in education
true value
new technology
10 years
Ode To Thy Overhead Projector
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In the race to integrate technology in education, the one machine which has proven its true value time and time again, is the beloved overhead projector. I don’t mean the new and improved type of projector which you might see in every classroom in most school districts. I am not describing the expensive machine which hangs from the classroom ceiling, connects to our computers, and projects images onto an interactive white board in where the instructor can move objects using an electronic pen.

I am referring to the dinosaur which has managed to stay hidden off to the side, in every classroom for the past 10 years. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of new technology, and as long as the district, state, or anyone else pays to have it installed in my classroom, then by all means, I won’t refuse. I tend to use everything I can to improve my students education. Also, being the classroom pack rat that I am, I will never refuse free educational instruments.

However, my heart will always be faithful to my Overhead Projector. I currently teach 4th grade, and used to teach 6th. As far as I am concerned, the older version of the overhead projector is the best instructional weapon a teacher can have. I use it everyday, for every subject. This simple tool, for a teacher, is like a Light Saber to its Jedi Master. And although it might be considered old, in my opinion, it is the most effective. I feel that there are many reasons, these overhead projectors are unique.

I relate the use of a projector to the expression, “Keep It Simple Stupid.” Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to teach, especially since the strongest teachers break every step of every lesson down. If it wasn’t for my projector, my students might have gotten so bored from not being able to read my writing, they could have possibly thrown me out of our classroom and taken over. Fortunately, I learned quickly. The overhead projector is arguably the best teaching tool simply because of the following:

Time Management: Aside from discipline, time management could be the biggest reason that the overhead projector is the best tool for teaching. In one class period, I was able to write neater yet quicker. My students were able to do the same. The faster I had our math problems up on the board, the faster the students had them copied down in there notebooks and on worksheets. Over one class period, my students copied down over three times as many problems in a shorter amount of time than if I had written the problems on the white board in the front of the classroom. If I get that many more problems in one class period, think about how many problems I get in over the course of one year. So far, there is nothing that even comes close in terms of more practice in less time.

Classroom Management: Simply put, the teacher faces the students. This keeps discipline issues to a minimum simply because the teacher does not turn their back to any of the students. The instructor can then write while looking up to see students who are note taking or doing some sort of activity which keep them engaged. I have seen teachers cut down discipline issues by almost in half simply by using the overhead as a teaching tool. When you face your students, you can write on the projector and keep your eyes on your students. This is one of the best multitasking techniques an instructor can implement in regard to managing a classroom and facilitating a good lesson.

Student Engagement: Strong teachers often use the projector as an instrument where students can come up and write his or her answer on the overhead transparency thus demonstrating solid participation to their classmates. This is awesome, yet easy if you want to get students up in front of the classroom participating and sharing ideas. It is also used best when you want students to take notes, or copy worksheets. In my opinion, my students had better notes and neater work, simply because, as a class we could answer questions and copy them neatly from the overhead into notebooks and on paper.

Visibility: The instructor can write on a transparency in legible and neat writing. If it looks perfect, students are more than likely able to read it. Also, most educators might not notice, but when you write on an overhead transparency, the words are much bigger, and clearer for the students to read. Especially if you write in black Vis-a-V Pens as well as turn out the lights. This way, students can see much better. This helps students who might be seated towards the back of the room or students who have poor eye sight.

Transparencies: If the instructor has some sort of outline from a workbook, he or she can easily copy it onto a blank transparency and use it again and again. Also, using a blank transparency, a teacher has the ability to personally, yet quickly design or outline a page similar to that of the student’s worksheet, using the Visa V. Pen and a ruler for straight lines. Now the teacher and students can swiftly and accurately move through a lesson while completing work together thus demonstrating a strong model for active learning.

These are a few reasons for my commitment to the use of the overhead projector. A wise lady once told me “A good teacher teaches to the ability of their highest and lowest student.” I believe this to be true. I also feel that as stated earlier, strong educators break lessons down to simplest form. The overhead projector is an instrument which helps complete this task. It’s fast and efficient. And although, I might be part of a dying breed of overhead junkies, I believe that this is an instrument which if used properly, can help students gain and retain academic content.


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