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Are You Smarter Than Your SMARTBoard?

When I first started teaching I used chalkboards.

Ancient artifact? True story… I had sticks of this chalk out on student desks one day and one boy picked it up, rolled it between his fingers, and asked, “WHAT IS THIS??”

In 2005, I spent my PTG money on a 3 x 5 dry erase board that the custodian installed overtop of a portion of my chalk board. It was a small space but I loved using colored markers to teach 6th grade math.

In 2007, I was transferred to a new position at the high school and when I walked into my classroom that August there was a giant box. Inside, was something I’d seen in a few classrooms, but never touched….something that would change the way I taught, the way my students learned, and the way I learned from my students. I was the proud new owner of SMART Board! The man who I was replacing had written a grant in the spring, received the SMART Board, and then took a new job in another district. Talk about luck!

As a tutor for the state graduation test and at-risk students, I had a lot of flexibility with my teaching which meant I had a lot of time to experiment. Working with only a few students each period they were more happy to show me how to use it.

In addition to my helpful 10th and 11th graders, I spent a lot of time teaching myself how to use my SMART Board. There are dozens of activities in the Lesson Activity Toolkit in the Gallery. It was a little overwhelming at first and then I decided to go through the sample activities one at a time, try them out as a “student”, and figure out how they were made. I then created a similar page with my content. If you are a hands-on learner like me this is probably a good route to go.

If you are a visual or auditory learner and like tutorials, I have since found that there are now video links to tutorials on most of the examples as well as a huge help menu in the Lesson Activity Toolkit. (My how times have changed!)

I think the easiest way to explain how to find your way around the Lesson Activity Toolkit is to provide these screenshots:

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There are 74 examples for you to go through. Start today and you could and have a whole arsenal of ideas for fall.

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15 responses

  1. I haven’t had the privilege of working with a SMARTboard yet, but I’ve been to a few trainings and the possibilities seem endless. The only thing I can say is that with all technology, we have to be careful how we use it. We shouldn’t be using it for its novelty… but because there is an increase in student engagement that is related to their learning. I’ve seen so many teachers with the coolest new stuff… and the coolest new technology… but they aren’t using it effectively to increase student learning 😦

    About the ELMO! man, it does limit mobility, but when my doctor asked me to choose between bedrest this semester & finishing out the year… it saved my prego self! I was able to move around for part of the class then work from the ELMO (which at a low income school… definitely engages students still…) when it started to be too much. Overall, i give the ELMO a thumbs up as a good tool to have. 🙂

    1. You are right that some teachers do not use the technology effectively. Districts definitely need to provide lots of in-service if they are going to pay big bucks for such technology. We are able to get our SMARTBoards through grants from our Technology Department. However, you must agree to a 3-day training in the summer, as well as monthly meetings with everyone who received a technology grant. Each teacher must present at one of these meetings during the year. Some teachers view it as “jumping through hoops” and refuse to write grants. They (and their students) are missing out.

      Great use of the ELMO too! I was on bedrest for 13 weeks years ago and that would have come in handy!

  2. Haha, well, you’re smart enough for a SMARTboard, which sounds smarter 😉

  3. I can’t wait to have a Smart Board, this year the excitement was over Elmos… We’re a little behind 😉

    1. I have an Elmo but unfortunately it is a cheap model that doesn’t sync to the SMARTBoard very easily. The school now purchases the actual SMART document camera which is actually a lot better. Is your whole school getting them?

      1. That’s good to know that the Elmo doesn’t sync well… Unfortunately, SMARTBoards are still a ways off for us, we’re still working on getting every teacher an Elmo, (I was one of the lucky firsts!). I have to say though, having used an overheard projector, it’s definitely a HUGE improvement to the world of teaching, so I can imagine that the SMARTBoard is pretty amazing!

      2. So you do your work under the Elmo and the kids can view it on a screen? Does that limit your ability to move around the room? Maybe I need to set mine up somewhere else? It is on my desk but not very accessible.

      3. I keep it on a cart and push it out to the center of the room when we use it. Then I have kids come up and do a lot of the work, so that I’m still able to move around. Also allows me to easily project my laptop. It’s so nice for them to be able to see what I’m doing and I love being able to throw pictures, math manipulatives, etc. up there! Would love to have a SMARTboard though!

      4. Ahhhh…very smart! Guess I am not smarter than my Elmo!!

  4. I’m attending a local, two-day SMART PD session in June. Then, in July, my school is paying for me to attend a four-day SMART conference! I, along with another teacher in my school, have been tagged to become SMART Exemplary Educators. I’m a little nervous because I’m still fairly new at the lesson planning/teaching thing, but I’m also excited about everything I’m going to learn and be able to share with my coworkers!

    1. Wow! That is awesome! I should take some more classes. I’ve never taken more than the basics. I am 75% self taught. How does the Exemplary Educator work?

  5. Well my students say “The smart board is not that smart” so yes its useful but never had one the worked the way they said it should work

    1. Thanks for reading my post. Sorry to hear you aren’t sold on the SMARTBoard technology. What does your SMARTBoard not do correctly?

      1. Oh, it Never orientents correctly, so touch sensitivity is off. Or the one day when I need it for an interactive lesson it does not work. The software does not work well with the Mac OS. My entire school uses macs. We are soon leaving smart boards and switching over to another system

      2. I have a Mac at home and you are right…..it is a pain. Like all technology, SMARTBoards are great….when they work. What system are you going to?

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