SMART Board Tips from a Fourth-grade Teacher
By Lisa Parisi
I have been teaching for over 25 years and have been using technology almost the whole time. I had a website before the world wide web was a thought, I successfully wrote a grant to add computers to my room when other teachers were complaining that the two they had took up too much room, and I taught myself all about Web 2.0 tools. So you can imagine my excitement when I was told teachers in my grade at school were receiving SMART Boards for our classrooms.
I thought long and hard about where to put it. I insisted that new wiring was put in the room so the SMART Board could be front and center. I signed up for any online SMART Board courses I could find, took the free training that came with the board, and spent hours at home learning how to use it. Every lesson I taught was created in SMART Notebook software. I began teaching classes on how to use the board and I became a SMART Exemplary Educator very quickly. I even won an Ipod shuffle for a video I created about the implementation of the SMART Board into my classroom.
But over the years, I stopped teaching from the front of the room. More and more of my lessons were project based learning, where the children worked in groups and/or independently and I became facilitator. So when I was asked to write a blog post for EDCompass, I wondered what I would say. And I started thinking about how much I still use the board, even though my lessons aren’t front and center anymore. The SMART Board is an amazing tool but it can become the center of the class, with teacher up on stage (the sage on the stage). It takes time to learn to use the tools and still maintain your “guide on the side” position. Here’s how I do it.
- Make your SMART Board interactive whiteboard and its accompanying computer available and accessible to the students.
- My students use the computer and SMART Board whenever they need to or want to. It is not MY computer.
- Use the recording tool often.
- One of the best features of SMART Notebook software is the Recording Tool. I love recording my lessons to put on my website for future reference. And I love having students record their work on the board.
- My favorite? Put a math problem on the board and have several children come up to solve it. Record the different methods used and save those recordings on a website for later viewing.
- Teach students about Notebook software and allow them to get creative with it.
- My students love to make backdrops for skits, draw cartoons, and create presentations with all the bells and whistles they can find. Presenting can be lots of fun with the board.
- Use a document camera or scanner to view picture books up close or demonstrate science experiments more easily.
- Watch videos.
- Take advantage of all the flash files in SMART Notebook software. The children love playing the games or listening to short videos. My class favorite? Search Respiratory System and find the file to keep the man alive by putting his respiratory system together correctly. I also love the poetry files for use during my poetry unit.
- Use the SMART Board as a group work space.
- When children move into project groups, assign one group to the board. Allow them to work large. They find it easy to work together since they can all see what is happening at the same time. And they like using it so it is more motivating.
- Use the board to explain directions and then hand it over to the students.
- I will often display new websites and show the students the basics. Then it’s up to them to work things out. Some prefer their own laptops while others love being on display during their learning time.
- I also often put instructions on the board so they can be seen while the children are working. This way, I don’t have to repeat any instructions. They can just read the board. And I can save the directions for use the next day.
- Timing a test period? The software has timers. Need instant graph paper? It’s there. Looking for pattern blocks to use for examples? Yup. You can find it. The Smart Board software is the best part of the whole system. Play around, learn what is there.
Count yourself lucky to have a SMART Board for your classroom. But be careful about letting that turn you into the front and center of the classroom. And have fun!
About the Author
Lisa Parisi is a fourth-grade teacher at Herricks Union Free School District on Long Island in New York. She’s been teaching for over 25 years and love teaching with technology. You can find examples of her students’ work on Parisi’s class website – http://herricks.org/webpages/dentondynamos. You can also read her personal blog called Lisa’s Lingo at http://www.thelisaparisi.com/.