Category Archives: SMARTBoard

Teaching Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” (2013 version)

NOTE: This is a repost/upgrade from last fall.  In this updated post you will find some improvements and changes. My apologies to anyone who tried to access the missing video or the activities that were blocked in google drive. Everything should be accessible now. If not, PLEASE comment so I can fix the links. 

I also added a new Prezi for the short story.  

This coming week my Resource Room will be reading The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe. The Lexile is 1350L which is definitely challenging for my class. Luckily, the book I use, Bridges to Literature, has an abridged version which will better suit our needs (580L). We will also watch this short video, The Tell-Tale Heart, and compare and contrast it with the textbook.

Some of the reading skills we will cover with this classic story include:

  • plot
  • sequencing
  • character motive
  • point of view
  • setting and mood
  • visualizing
  • vocabulary (vulture, precisely, mortal, and cautious)

I created this Prezi as an upgrade for my 7th graders this year: The Tell-Tale Heart Prezi

This story, much like The Green Ribbon, just lends itself to a comic strip activity, so we will revisit that activity this week too. This time I am going to require them to use the four vocabulary words in their summary. (Shout out to Follower 100!)

In my search for other materials and ideas, I found some other resources that you may be able to use. I am going to take bits and pieces from several and add to my SMART Notebook file. (As always, if you’d like a copy of the SMART Notebook file, drop me an e-mail and I’ll send it to you.)

Audio of “The Tell-Tale Heart” (Full version)

SCOPE Magazine Classroom Play

Vocabulary and Discussion Questions

Pre-Reading Activities

Comprehension and Style Activities

The SMARTBoard as a Planning and Organizational Tool

With all my anxiety over the Possibility of Ipads in the Fall, I realized that I will still have my SMARTBoard and that it has been the center of my instruction for 6 years. I love my SMARTBoard.

The first time I had my own SMARTBoard was when I walked into a new job at the high school and a giant box sat on the floor. The principal said, “The previous teacher wrote a grant for this before he left. It’s yours now.”

I had NO idea how to use it.

Luckily, I had a dozen students who were more than happy to show me how it worked. In the two years I was in that position (OGT Prep/Intervention), I learned a lot from them and a lot from just playing.

There were two lines that came up during that time, memorable quotes that have stuck with me over all these  years…

The first from a boy with an amazing sense of humor, “You have to be smarter than the SMARTBoard.

And one that I am pretty sure I said in one of those “Man, I love this thing” moments, “Have you hugged your SMARTBoard today?”

While the SMARTBoard can be viewed as a presentation tool, it is really an interactive instructional tool.

And for me, it is a planning and organizational tool.

There are so many ways to organize lesson plans, materials, and resources. I’ve tried them all over the past 17 years.

Organizing Lessons and Materials

By the week

+ Good if you use the same lessons year after year

– Makes  finding bits and pieces of a lesson more difficult if you need them at another time

–  If the schedule gets disrupted by  a snow day, sick day, underestimation of time, there goes the “week”…

In folders by the reading selection or unit

+ Keep all the resources for one story in one place

+ Ready-to-go options when you read the story the following year

– Requires you to pull together and reorganize the unit each year

– Easy to hoard things that you don’t really use or need

– Need to weed through often

In SMART Notebook files by story or unit (obviously my favorite and a major point of this post)

+ Like the folder option, lets you keep all you resources in one place file

+ Automatically feeds into currently technology (Don’t know what I’ll do when the SMART Board is replaced by something else)

+ Allows you to easily pull in templates and frequently used pages

This is my go-to page for conflict.  Consistency and visuals they can't forget.

This is my go-to page for conflict. Consistency and visuals they can’t forget.

+Provides the option to create interactive activities

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

+ Allows you to include links to media, websites, and other files

No Guitar Blues_4

These links will be used for writing prompts, intro music for the lesson, or background music while they work. I also have a page linking to a jeopardy review game.

+ Easy to rearrange and reorganize (Try grouping the pages)

+ Labeling each page with a keyword and/or standard keeps you focused

No Guitar groups

I break the file down into concept, “Day 1, Day 2, etc”, or chapter and label it with a standard number (I use the extended standards in my RR)

+ The capture tool allows you to “steal” from anywhere (This is how I incorporate pieces and parts of  other resources in find online,worksheets such as the ones I linked to here, and in the accompanying workbook.)

+ Easy to clone pages for quick editing or differentiation for different class periods (No examples in this lesson)

+ Export and print as a PDF and attach it to your lesson plans (Looks like this: No Guitar Blues lesson)

How do you use your SMARTBoard? 

Turn Your iPad into a Wireless Slate

So today in Pre-Algebra, we discovered something pretty awesome.  Splashtop is an app that turns your iPad into a wireless slate.

It’s super easy and just a bit less expensive than a $439 Airliner Slate!

  1. You buy the app – on sale right now for $6.99. (Regular price is $19.99).
  2. Install it on your computer as well.
  3. Create an account.
  4. (We also had to buy an “Anywhere Access Pack” for $10/year but that might depend on your network.)

It’s that easy!

After testing it out in the math classroom, I went back and installed it on my classroom computer and iPad at lunch.

Can’t wait to try it out tomorrow 1st period. I’ll let you know how it goes.

One of These Words is Not Like the Others

Right now we are working towards increasing vocabulary and improving vocabulary comprehension. These activities are all variations of the same concept using different formats. Students must find similarities and differences between words in a list.

On the SMART Board
There are several tools you can use including:

Word Sort (with headings of Same and Different) This would require one page per set of words, but as a presenter once told me, “Pages are free” so it really doesn’t matter if you use 100 pages.


The multiple choice activity works also. You can do up to 10 questions per page.


The easiest? I just make lists/groups of words and cover them with the disappearing box. A student reveals a set and then they all use their dry erase boards to write their answers. I let them work in groups for this so they can have some discussion about the meaning of the words.


  • “Clickers” – I wrote a grant for Senteo Interactive Response System a few years ago and using these hand-held devices is the closest I can get to BYOT in my Resource Room this year. The students love using clickers and I am collecting ideas on how to use them to share in a future post.

Old School Method

Using index cards, I made a set of cards for each of my round tables. Three cards were similar. One didn’t match up. Students rotated to each table in pairs and had to discuss and write down the words that did not belong. This activity keeps them moving and lets them interact and discuss ideas with classmates.


One station in the rotation….I said the answer is “rat” because all the others have wings and feathers. Most of them said “eagle” because the others “walk around on the ground.” Who’s correct?

The title of this post made me think of Sesame Street and a popular segment. Who remembers this?

Ideas for Teaching Sequencing and Plot

Teaching plot with the plot diagram and sequencing events are two activities we’ve focused on a lot lately.

I was amazed how the activities surrounding one short story came together. We did these activities over the course of four days as part of our reading instruction for the week.

First we read “The Green Ribbon” in our literature book.

Then we watched the video:

As I was watching the video on my iPad I got the genius idea to do screen shots of different part of story for sequencing purposes. (I am becoming a huge fan of the iPhone/iPad screen shot and have probably a dozen ways it makes my life easier.)

I went into SMART Notebook and used the Hot Spots tool to create two different but related activities surrounding plot.

First, students had to place the labels for a plot diagram in the appropriate place.


You can customize this tool by drawing your own graphics or pasting an image. I just drew this plot line with the line tool.

Next, students had to place the events of the story in the appropriate place on the plot diagram.

This activity was very effective for teaching exposition, climax, and resolution.

I also used SMART Notebook’s Image Arrange tool and the screen shot images of the video so students could sequence the major events.

You can paste any images into this tool. These are the screen captures from YouTube.

I wasn’t so sure about this last-but-not-least activity, but I am glad I gave it a try. It incorporated sequencing, summarizing, sentence writing, and speaking & listening.

To prepare, I had Tweedle Dee draw 8 different pictures in cells like a comic strip (in random order). I asked her to keep the drawings simple and to reflect the main events of the story. Since she loves to draw and most of my students hate it, this was a win-win situation.

In class, I gave a copy of the mixed-up comic strips to each student. They had to cut, sequence, and paste the cells in order. They then had to retell the story in their own words under each cell.

I encouraged them to use their books for vocabulary and spelling. I thought this might be too juvenile or easy for my students but it was definitely challenging. Everyone’s story was slightly different in terms of wording. In fact, they did a little 4-3-2-1 sharing right before our comprehension quiz.

Here is one of the finished comic strips from my class:

Providing the pictures was a huge relief to many students. If they had asked, I would have let them draw their own. But no one did.

This link highlights just 14 of the SMART Flash Activities in the Activity Toolkit. If you are new to SMART Notebook this is definitely worth checking out.

Using Edmodo to Encourage Editing

Do you ever have ideas that come out of nowhere or get a result that you never expected? Like when a decently planned lesson all of a sudden takes a turn for the best and you are like “Yesssss!! This is why I love my job!””

That was me about three weeks ago when I decided to try to use Edmodo with my Resource Room. My original goal was to get them used to signing into the computer, logging into Edmodo, and typing a reply (hopefully with capitals and punctuation).

Here is what I did:

1. I loaded a picture on Edmodo.

2. I gave these directions: Ask three questions about the picture. Answer two of your classmates’ questions. Use capitals and periods.

3. I set them loose and didn’t fuss about their grammar, punctuation, etc. I was happy to see them responding and interacting and looking at their question words. Almost everyone completed the task in the allotted time.

Class ended and when I returned to my room, my iPhone had 47 notifications from Edmodo!

4. During my prep period, I logged into Edmodo and used the Screen Capture Tool in SMART Notebook and copied their work. All 47 replies.

5. I created some editing icons for punctuation and capitalization and included a smiley face.

Fast-forward to the next day for our Bell Ringer….

6. We edited those sentences and man, were they engaged! My room is a safe place and no one was embarrassed about their mistakes. They gracefully came to the board, made their corrections with my editing icons, or rewarded themselves with a smiley face.

The photo prompt for this Edmodo discussion was a spooky door in the middle of the woods.

During this activity, I had to give a mini-lesson on how to use the shift key for capital letters and question marks by putting a photo of our same keyboard on the SMART Board. I made students come up and practice “holding down” the shift key and then hitting the question mark.

The best part came when we returned to the lab later that week and I provided another photo prompt with the same directions.

And I heard things like,

“Am I allowed to edit my reply?” (Ummm…absolutely!!!!)

“Oh no! How do I fix that sentence?” (Let me show you!!!)

“Can we do more than two replies?” (Not a problem!!)

“We’re gonna blow up your phone today!” (::::::Insert their evil laughs:::::::)

My kids were excited about writing and they were recognizing their mistakes and they were fixing them!

Imagine their delight when on our second day of “Edmodo Editing” we had twice as many smiley faces!

We’ve done a few more photo prompts. On the fourth one, I told them I would be taking a grade on their work. The easiest way for me to do this was to print the post and all the replies. I cut them into strips and put them in piles. I then gave them a percentage on their use of capitals and punctuation. One girl did three sentences and another did 12 so this was the only fair way to do it. (Grading writing is always tricky for me.) I can also use these work samples for their IEP objectives.

Next we will be moving onto prompts related to short stories we read in class. The first one will be from the true account “Forty-Five Seconds Inside a Tornado.” (Explain how you would stay safe during a tornado. Describe what it would be like to be in a tornado. Give two details you remember about the tornado that hit Waco.)

I see this activity evolving into bigger and better writing and editing experiences throughout the year.

And to think it all happened somewhat accidentally….

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Like many middle school students do each fall, our 8th graders are currently reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. One of the many activities that students do during this unit is memorize and recite Robert Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” poem.

Just like learning the lyrics to a song, practice makes perfect.

Here are two ways I have found useful:

1) Write the poem on the white board in different colors for each couplet. Each day, in order to practice, students stand one row at a time and recite two lines in unison. The next row stands and recites the next two lines and so on and so forth.

Every day, a new row starts the poem so that students have an opportunity to recite every line. This is a good transition activity and should be done daily for at least a week (or two) prior to the due date.

2) I have also created a SMART Notebook file using the “Sentence Arrange” tool which you can read more about by clicking the link.

Last Christmas we had a gift exchange with all of the 8th grade teachers. I made this with my Sizzix machine for a co-worker, who I shall call “Follower 100.” This year, I am her inclusion teacher in her Language Arts class and it is displayed in the front of her classroom.

What poems do you require your students to recite?

What other techniques do you use to help students memorize poetry?

Share your ideas here and enjoy this video of  “Stay Gold” by Stevie Wonder.

Ideas for SMART Board Tools: Sentence Arrange

The “Sentence Arrange” tool in SMART Notebook is a great tool for sequencing and ordering and can be used in all subject areas.

You can find this tool in the Lesson Activity Toolkit.  Basically you enter single pieces of information –  in sequence – on up to 8 separate lines. The lines are shuffled and students must reorder them. Like most of the activities in SMART Notebook, it has a self-check feature.

I have used this for whole class instruction, stations, and individual practice.

The screen shot below shows how we used this tool for learning the Scientific Method.

Stay tuned for another clever way to memorize the steps of the Scientific Method!

Here are some other ways I have used “Sentence Arrange” in the past:

  1. Memorizing the Preamble of the Constitution
  2. Learning PEMDAS in math
  3. Sequencing events in a story
  4. Ordering numbers from smallest to largest
  5. Memorizing the 7 base metric units
  6. Ordering presidents
  7. Sequencing battles in a war
  8. Memorizing lines of a poem

What other ways could you use this tool in your classroom?

Share your ideas here!

More Ways to Get to Know Your Students

Worried that I don’t have enough to fill the first day of class, I did another search for ways to get to know my students.

Here are few more activities that may be useful that first day or first week of school.

Below are four interest inventories of various levels.

Other fun finds:

Student Information Sheet

  • This is business on the front and more personal on the back. You could easily just use the back for a good snapshot of a student’s personality. I like the kinds of questions they ask….”What wish do you have for someone else?” and “The title of a book about my life would be…” I am considering using this as a 1-on-1 interview with my Resource Room kids.

Photo Interest Inventory

  • This is more of a vocational interest inventory but I love the format and concept. It is designed for non-readers and includes a scoring system for teachers to complete. This inventory would be good for parts of the special education process. It has also inspired me to come up with a photo interest inventory for my students for the first week. I will share it here if I get it done in time!

Your Learner Sketch

  • This is a completely interactive activity where students decide if a characteristic fits into the “This is so me” or “Not me” category.
  • When you are done, it sorts your responses into strengths and weakness and includes additional links to learn more about each skill.
  • The PDF summary (I attached mine so you could see) isn’t as fun graphically, but it contains valuable information and explanations for students including strategies to help with weak areas. The report can also be emailed.


Koosh Ball Introduce Yourself

  • This is a SMART Notebook file that I plan to use sometime during the first week with my Resource Room. I plan on also using this as a template for other Koosh Ball games.


Like every other teacher blogger, I have been getting my room ready and the excitement is building. The excitement is mixed with a little bit of sadness. I mourn the loss of free time, “me” time, staying up late, consequently sleeping late, being lazy, and being insanely busy.

However, I realized as I was putting the finishing touches on my new room today I felt that bubbly back-to-school feeling…and the need to snap pics on my iPhone…so I must be ready.

Something old, something new, something to eat, and something blue

I think I mentioned I love school supplies and I buy my fair share. I have been taking in a load of supplies every day for a few days now, but I emptied my last bag of goodies today.


New markers for $1 a pack at Staples
Low-odor dry erase markers for my cheap dry erase boardsMechanical pencils to write in my journal
Erasers from The Dollar Tree – (because everyone makes mistakes)
A generic Koosh ball from The Dollar Tree (to be used on a Whack-a-Mole SMART Notebook game)
A plethora of recycled school supplies donated by Tweedle Dee
Bic White-Out Correction Tape (No odor, no mess!)
Protein bars that will hopefully hold me until my 12:22 lunch time

Ready for the first day and every day after that… 

The Scavenger Hunt is ready to go and look at these fun folders for each day of the week!


I spy with my little eye…a great big shoe!


Sharing my love for journals and organization20120814-163905.jpg

I made 11 of these composition books for my Resource Room and am excited to use these in lieu of a binder or other organizational system. I hope I can easily direct students to the correct colored tab and we can add notes by either writing or pasting copies. I will update on how this works in a few weeks. Fingers crossed!

Some inspiration.

One bulletin board in my room is filled with some of my favorite words of wisdom. 20120814-164547.jpg

  • Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.
  • Wherever you are, it is your friends who make your world.
  • Everything will be o.k. in the end. If it’s not o.k., it’s not the end.
  • Now is the right time.
  • Some people walk in the rain…others just get wet.

On the left, postcards about tolerance from the our class trip to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

And two posters I painted the other day with the kids.

Even the fish are ready!


The kids and I got a kick out of this big fish leading the school of little fish around the pond in the school’s courtyard.

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