My SMART Collaborative Classroom – Boris Blogs!
SMART Exemplary Educator Boris Berlijn in the Netherlands recently took on the challenge of running a living learning lab called a SMART Collaborative Classroom. His discoveries about how small-group collaboration is best facilitated with our products lend themselves to the use of one SMART Board interactive whiteboard, but we’ve asked Boris to push that concept to the max with multiple boards in his lab. Over to Boris!
By Boris Berlijn
On the 5th of December 2013, my classroom was transformed into a SMART Collaborative Classroom. This date was a great day because in the Netherlands we celebrate Sinterklaas on that day. It’s a holiday similar to Christmas, where all children get presents from this imaginary children’s friend.
And on this exact day I received an awesome present as well: two new dual touch SMART Board M600 series, an E70 interactive flat panel and the new SMART Document Camera 450 together with software licenses such as SMART Bridgit conferencing software, SMART Response VE and (soon) some SMART Notebook for iPad redeem codes for the student devices.
Recently we had open house at school, where students and parents from primary schools pay a visit to our school. We show what kind of school we are and how we teach in secondary education. My headmaster asked me if the SMART Collaborative Classroom could be one of the activities during open house, which I loved (of course). On these three days I was present in the classroom I showed the collaborative concept and the way I teach to the parents and primary school students. Prizes were available through a photo contest and SMART Response quiz. It was really great to have the SMART Collaborative Classroom present at open house.
Pedagogically I’m always on the move and love to add new ways of learning and teaching to my arsenal of tips and tricks in the classroom. With the SMART Collaborative Classroom, the way I teach and the students learn will transform to more active and collaborative pedagogy. I could never use three SMART Boards at the same time myself, so the interactive whiteboards really make the focus on student use.
Of course having multiple boards in my classroom offers special advantages not unavailable in a conventional classroom. For instance I can use an extra board besides my presentation which can display tweets of the students or I am able to show a video on one SMART Board and the questions related to the video on the other. And while connected to another classroom somewhere in the world in real time, I’m able to display the SMART Notebook lesson on one SMART Board and have the video chat on another SMART Board in my classroom.
But this is not primarily the goal of a SMART Collaborative Classroom though. Collaboration between students inside my classroom on the SMART Boards is the main purpose. My arsenal of activities isn’t varied yet, but the few I’ve tried so far really do work well for me and the students. I also discuss ideas with other teachers from around the globe using Facebook, Google+ or in real life at events like BETT so we can inspire each other in the SMART Collaborative Classroom.
In my geography and social studies classes, I put a theory on each board and have the students in small groups prepare arguments either for or against the theory. After discussing about it, each group needs to put their arguments on the boards. This can be done with pictures as well and let the students explain to each other what can be seen on the picture.
Another activity is to have the students in small groups prepare a certain item related to the topic of the day. For instance with geography, natural disasters is part of the curriculum. Each group needs to prepare a presentation about a natural disaster. On one SMART Board a group is working on volcanoes, on another SMART Board a group is working on hurricanes and a group is working on earthquakes. And the end of the lesson we have three SMART Boards filled with content created by students about different items regarding the main topic of natural disasters.
Competition or challenges between classes or groups of students is also great to get them moving and great for using multiple boards in the classroom. Dividing the class in smaller groups who need to take up a challenge and create an on-topic(!) question in round one. In the second round the groups pass by the SMART Boards and try to answer the question of the other group. Round three is where students can earn points for good questions and for having good answers on other group their questions.
QR-codes can be used as well for a challenge between smaller groups. Each group has their own Notebook file to add the answers on the questions hidden under QR-codes. With the use of the pens or XC Add-on for SMART Notebook, they can add their content to their Notebook file and at the end of the lesson all the content created by the students is added to one Notebook file. Me and the students love this way of working. fewer teacher-centered activities and more student-centered activities where they need to collaborate with each other is the way I like to teach.
What do you think of Boris’s learning lab? We welcome your thoughts!
Boris Berlijn currently teaches at a SMART Showcase Schoolnamed Ashram College in Alphen aan den Rijn, which was first outfitted with SMART Board interactive whiteboards in 2007. Berlijn is an ambassador of technology in education at his school and within the Dutch government community. In May 2008, he attended the SMART Interactive User Forum in Stockholm, Sweden, which is when he first became a fan of other SMART products beyond the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Boris has also participated in a SMART Exemplary Educator Summit in at SMART headquarters in Calgary.