So, one of my Twitter colleagues challenged me to blog about how I have actually integrated my SMART Board into my daily teaching and planning… I would like to take that challenge, but I need to stop and think about this…
At first, I started with what I would call “flashy” applications. I used it for balloon popping attendance. I have also used the group generator application from SMART Notebook almost daily to create groups for various discussions where specific partnerships are not necessary. At the beginning, I would have to say that my SMART Board was an “add-on”, not an integral part of my planning and teaching.
I have always used Essential Skills Spelling in my classroom to support my spelling program. I created custom lists and recorded my voice so that my students could use the program for our French Spelling words (although the program was not designed for French words). I would normally send the kids out through the school to log on and use the program individually. (Our school is set up with four desktop computers per classroom, no lab. We just got a portable lab this year.) So, I started doing the activities on the SMART Board as a class. We discussed the spelling, made competitions about it. Collaborated and helped each other. It has been amazing to see the students help each with their own little spelling tricks whereas when I sent them out to their own computer, they would not be able to talk because they would be disturbing the class that they were in.
I then started to use some of the pre-made science and math lessons out there. I’ve always been pretty good at word processing, so changing the text in these lessons to French for my class was fairly easy. At first, that is all I did. I found lessons through SMART Notebook and by searching online. This worked for awhile. Then I started to notice that I didn’t like the way that some of the Notebook lessons were formatted, or that they didn’t exactly meet the outcome that I was seeking, or that they were very base-level questioning, and I wanted to push my students further. So, at first, I started to make small formatting changes to the lessons. For example, in a science lesson about the properties of matter, the students had to sort pictures into solids, liquids or gasses. I noticed that the background chart was not locked into place. I anticipated my students losing the picture along the way and picking up the chart. So, I decided to lock the chart into place. A small change, but one that made a big difference during the lesson. Then, I realized that that lesson didn’t push far enough. My students had no problem sorting the pictures, but that didn’t tell me if they really understood what a solid, liquid and gas actually is. So, I added little boxes next to each picture that held the reasons for each sorting. I had seen in another lesson that they had created another box over top of the text that hid the text until they moved it. I then asked my students to explain their reasoning when they moved a picture and then check in the box afterwards. By doing this, I met another of my curricular standards and pushed my students understanding a step further. I also found that some of the pictures had elements that could be categorized as two states of matter depending on what you looked at in the picture. So, I decided to make the pictures infinitely cloned. That way, we could talk about the two choices, without having to decide where a single picture went. So, my SMART Board has allowed my teaching to become more interactive and it has elicited more discussion. Before the SMART Board, I may have asked a student if Pepsi was a solid, liquid or gas. They would have had only one answer. A picture of a Pepsi elicits the conversation around the can, the liquid in the can, and about how the liquid takes the form of the container. I also posted a blog question at the end of my unit asking the students to tell me what they learned. My students responded with simple sentences. It took them about 30 minutes to log in and type 1-2 sentences, but the discussions that followed about their classmates’ responses was well worth the time! As we read the responses on the SMART Board, they identified the things that they had forgotten but were remembered by others, and they helped their friends when they had made a mistake by crossing out and writing right on the board. At first, these students were a little embarrassed by their mistakes, but the fact that they got to use the SMART Board to correct their own mistakes made it fun for them. They became the teacher. I had students volunteering other information that they remembered and asking to come to the board and add it. That was truly one lesson that left me feeling like I was a pretty good teacher. My kids felt good too.
Another way that I have used my SMART Board fairly regularly in my classroom this year is as simple as using the lined background in Notebook and scans of textbook pages. My level, grade 3, is the first year where textbooks are introduced. How to read a textbook and how to transfer info and format a notebook are skills that need to be taught at my level. In the past, I have used overhead copies of textbook and notebook pages. This year, I use my SMART Board. I am able to use colour scans of the textbook pages. I can use the Shade function in Notebook to hide unessential parts, or to focus in on important parts. I can circle, write, highlight, star, or do anything that I want to the page when I am teaching my students how to read it, then choose to save what I have written or erase it to focus on something new. I use the lined background in Notebook to show my students how to format their work on a page. I can save it and bring it up again the next day.
I use this to model other work as well. We brainstorm to invoke prior knowledge and to establish important vocabulary. I can then post this brainstorm day after day as we work through a unit or assignment. We can add, change, or erase as we learn more throughout the unit. It is kind of like the old large-format chart paper without the storage problem and with added benefits. I was always hesitant in the past to write down misinformation on that chart paper because it was so permanent. The SMART Board allows for fluidity and change as we learn more.
I have integrated my SMART Board as a center during my Guided Reading. I have always had a center called Choice Reading. This consisted of a basket of levelled books from which my students could choose a book or two to read. This has now been changed to a digital basket with the use of www.raz-kids.com . What was once one of their least favourite stops along their reading route has now because they are using the SMART Board. It also encourages digital reading. I read an article recently about how the eye-brain connection is actually different when reading paper text and digital text. I don’t know if there is truth to that, but knowing that my students will be adults in a time where a large part of their reading will be digital, it would pay to develop that skill. Also, my students have access to this website at home, so if they have access to a computer, they can continue reading at home.
The last way that I have used my SMART Board is for what I call “incidentals”. These are the INQUIRY-type questions that come up during the day. This had been as simple as a student asking where Haiti was after the earthquake, and being able to pull up a map to show the students. We were doing a dance/drama unit that focused on The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde. Just was we were finishing the unit, one student asked what had happened in the story again?!? So, I googled the story and found a kid’s adaptation to read to them and a cartoon video to show them (which I previewed before showing them!). It makes learning so much more relevant to them! I also try to teach them some tech skills along the way too. I do “think-alouds” as I search for these things. What keywords do I use? How do I tell which links are good? How do I find a picture? How do I find a video?
So, to answer your question @mme_henderson, this is how I have used my SMART Board in my daily classroom. Thanks for the challenge. It has shown me just how much I have used it and how valuable it has been in my classroom.