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Magic on a screen

Second-graders at Lakeview Elementary School watch GoNoodle on their Magic TV. The new TVs are an interactive way for teachers and students to learn. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

NEGAUNEE — A group of second-graders at Lakeview Elementary School walked in their classroom recently, saw what was new — and jumped up and down, cheering.

A “Magic TV” can bring on that sort of reaction.

Using chalk and a blackboard is all well and good to educate students, but what might hold their interest more, especially with the young set, is a colorful, interactive way of conducting lessons.

That’s where a Magic TV can be helpful.

“It’s like watching a beautiful, huge television in your home,” Lakeview Principal Julie Peterson said.

Sixteen such TVs have been installed at Lakeview, with 20 more planned.

Peterson said she got the idea for the new technology — with its lower cost and user-friendliness — while attending a Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association meeting.

“It’s like a television,” Peterson said, “but it’s more economical to purchase because we’re very large here — 28 classrooms, maybe, and for everyone, including music, art, and special education rooms and everything, we needed 36 Magic TVs.”

The TVs are 65 inches across, with one extra 75-inch TV to be used for transport and travel.

The Lakeview Parent-Teacher Partnership, the Negaunee Public Schools Board of Education and fundraisers such as popcorn sales have made the Magic TVs possible, Peterson said.

Cory Richards, technology director at Lakeview, was instrumental, of course, in installing the TVs, which came at a cost of about $85,500.

He said the TVs, which run on the Android operating system, give teachers an interactive component.

“The best way to explain it is: a 65-inch tablet with a lot of technology, extra technology built in, that allows them to be interactive with the actual students,” Richards said. “Basically, they can share their screens — even the students, for that matter.”

Peterson said that eventually the youngsters can become further involved through “e-sharing” using their Chromebooks and the TVs.

The school’s reading and math series have a strong online component, she noted, and the TVs allow those lessons to be projected, with the visual clarity of the TVs versus interactive whiteboards or projectors significantly improving the experience.

There also wasn’t a big learning curve for the teachers.

“It’s as easy as using your phone,” Peterson said.

The Magic TVs appear to be a big hit. Richards said the day after he put them in the classroom, a little girl came up to him while he was walking in the hallway and gave him a hug.

“It’s impressive,” Peterson said. “We’re still smiling about it like it’s Christmas.”

Richards said the 75-inch TV will be used in the library for presentations as well as the gymnasium.

“It’s a mobile one,” he said. “It’s actually going to be on a cart so they can push it around and use it where we need it.”

Second-grader Kyle Rajala said he likes his classroom’s Magic TV.

“You can do GoNoodle on it,” he said.

GoNoodle uses movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts, the website gonoodle.com reads.

For instance, Lakeview second-graders on Thursday got in front of their TV, which was showing a video, and became playfully active before returning to their seats.

However, Peterson stressed the school will strike a balance between using the Magic TVs and the traditional pencil-and-paper approach.

That balance came about more easily in part because of the public’s interest.

“We’re really fortunate to have that community support,” Peterson said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.