Category Archives: SMARTBoard

Tricks to Teaching Character Types

When we discuss the characters in our novels, we always distinguish between the round and flat characters and the static and dynamic characters.

To help my students learn these types of characters, I use media from their world.

I always start with a video clip to introduce Round vs. Flat Character.

After viewing this video, I give students the definition of Round and Flat characters.

I ask the students to decide which character is round and which is flat and we discuss how they fit the definition. It may be no coincidence that Dory is actually flat and Marlin is round.

We then turn to this video to introduce Dynamic and Static characters.

From this video they can determine that Shrek is the dynamic character and Lord Farquaad is the static character. (FYI: They will argue that Lord Farquaad changes when he is eaten by the dragon.)

This is the handout they paste in their journal.20120801-130140.jpg

Throughout the year, we will always make references to Dory, Marlin, Shrek, and Lord Farquaad when discussing character types. With each novel or short story, we will identify characters as such. For novels, they always complete a chart or keep a list in their journals. For short stories, it’s more of a discussion. It always amazes me how they can remember characters from stories early on in the year.

I teach protagonist and antagonist on a different day, referring to both video clips. Here is my handout.20120801-133750.jpg

Other ideas for teaching character:

  • Take in movies from your DVD collection and pass the boxes around. Students will work in groups to identify the protagonist and antagonist in each movie.
  • If BYOT is an option, students could watch videos that have been linked to Edmodo and identify character types.
  • Students chose 5 of their favorite movies and list the protagonist and antagonist for each.
  • Students could write an extended response to the following question: How would the movie change if the antagonist was not part of the story?
  • Create a labeled dice (using the keyword dice tool) on the SMART Board that lists the characters from a particular novel. On a second dice, list the types of characters. Students roll both dice and then determine if they have a match.

Teaching Vocabulary in Real-World Context

We read The Outsiders at the start of the year and one important piece of reading the novel is acquiring new vocabulary.

The other day I wrote about using visuals to reach all learners. When I am working with students with disabilities, ESL/ELL, or at-risk students I find that getting on their level and in their world helps them make connections, especially in vocabulary.

Here is the vocabulary list for The Outsiders (one word per chapter). Each day a new word is presented and students are asked to copy the word and definition. They also need to locate the sentence in the novel and write it in their journal. This list is used with most of the 8th grade classes.


Here are some sample pages from the SMARTNotebook file I created for our inclusion class. The definitions are not only pared down a bit, but each page includes a graphic and the sentence from the novel.



As we review the vocabulary and later test over it, students can picture Judge Judy and Wile E. Coyote and apply this knowledge.


For the above example, we will connect it to a student athlete in the class and always refer to him when we discuss this vocabulary word. “Andy cannot believe that the Tigers beat them last Friday night.”

Because these vocabulary words are made on SMARTNotebook, students can download them from our Edmodo page, view them online, or print them and cut them out to make flashcards. (You have to print to the “large” or “medium” setting for usable flashcards.) I typically provide a copy of these to each of the students who require such an accommodation on their IEP. I also make a class set to use for review games during our intervention study hall.

I think this method of teaching vocabulary works because it helps students:
Who are visual/picture smart (obviously)
Who are book/word/linguistic smart (as the word becomes part of a very short “story”)
Who are people smart (as they get involved with the “characters” in the examples)
Who are tactile/kinesthetic/body smart (as they manipulate the flashcards)

And it should be no surprise, It is also way more fun to teach vocabulary like this.

Today You Will Need…..

Each day when my Resource Room students come to class, this is what they see on the SMART Board.


By using the “order” tool in the draw menu I can layer the icons and hide them behind the large purple box.


As you can see from the screen shot below, I have customized all sorts of icons that I can drag to the main page.


This is a very quick and easy way to prepare students for class that I just came up with this past year. (Prior to that, it was a list on the board.) If there was ever a day when I did not have the screen up and ready when my first student came in, he would be all over me. “Are we not doing anything today???!” He always took it upon himself to pass out the materials and supplies for all the students. Talk about a useful tool.

How do you let your students know what they need each day?
What other icons would be useful?
Would you be interested in this SMARTBoard file?
Leave a comment and I’ll send it your way!

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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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