Ranchvale purchases document cameras

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Ranchvale third-grader Ryan Perkins, 8, labels Earth and Venus Thursday on a diagram of the solar system under the document camera in Trinity Watt’s classroom.

Liliana Castillo

Ranchvale Elementary School spent money raised by its fall fundraiser to purchase document cameras for each classroom.

Document cameras are a new, higher technology, version of an overhead projector.

A small camera is mounted in each classroom, and connected to a projector that is mounted on the ceiling. The camera points directly down to where a teacher or student can place anything and it will be projected onto a wall for the entire class to see.

Third-grade teacher Trinity Watt used the camera Thursday for a lesson about planets. As she asked students questions about inner planets and outer planets, each third-grader was able to go to the document camera and identify their locations in color as the class watched.

“I love it,” Watt said of the camera. “I can do anything. The kids can do it themselves and it shows color.”

Watt said overhead projectors never showed color well and she saves time she used to spend making overhead copies. If a student has a good example of their work, she said she can put that under the document camera and show the class.

Students can also write on the board to coincide with what is being projected onto it.

“It’s easier than an overhead. We could never get it situated right,” she said.

Watts said the overhead had to sit in front of the room also which blocked students’ view.

Ranchvale Finance Secretary Cheryl Forrest said the students raised $6,167.05 in cookie and brochure sales, which paid for the cameras.

Forrest said the school was able to raise a little extra because they have between 50 and 60 more students this year than last year.

Initially, the school ordered two cameras for the classes who averaged the most sales. Then they purchased 14 more. There is one in each classroom, one in the library and one in a special education class.

“They’re great,” she said. “Every teacher has the opportunity to give our students experience with this kind of technology.”

Principal Suzanne Brockmeier said the teachers and students have embraced the new technology.

“Of all the technology we’ve given the teachers, this is the one that they hooked up and used the quickest,” she said.