Working with SMART at ISTE is alright with me!
By Heather Sloan
This being my first trip to the ISTE convention and exposition, I have a better sense for how my kindergartners must feel on the first day of school; utter disbelief that I had been dropped into this enormous new place full of new people, and completely overwhelmed by the variety of options. There are dozens of types of sessions: hands-on, Bring your own Device, Lectures, Model Lessons, Video Conferences, Research Papers, Learning Stations, Poster Sessions, and the list goes on. Then I stepped onto the exhibition floor, which takes over 15 minutes to traverse end-to-end. To be quite honest, it all took my breath away.
On Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to share how SMART Notebook 11 collaborative Lesson learning software plays a key role in my early education classroom. I always center my lesson activities, content and assessments on interactivity, asking myself, “Am I focusing on my students and how they will interact with and understand what I am teaching them?” In Tuesday’s session, I discussed how I use SMART Notebook to collaborate, differentiate and check for understanding in my kindergarten classroom. My favorite part of presenting was hearing the “ooohhs” and “ahhhs” when I showed the audience a new feature of the recently released Notebook 11. I was able to demonstrate how my students use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard to record observations, solve problems, and interact with content both in small group and whole group settings. Students in my classroom learn to defer to each other instead of me when they are stuck or unsure; this ensures that they see each other as team members with whom to collaborate.
I demonstrated strategies that I employ to support differentiation: cloning three versions of the same page, changing the instructions and expectations for each ability level while focusing on the same content. I also use large visuals on simple pages with sounds, videos and websites imbedded to support and engage all learners.
Lastly, I demonstrated techniques for checking understanding. Using a variety of self-checking activities allows students to work at their own pace in small groups, and discuss the results of their activities with their group-mates. It also gives me insight into how they are understanding the content, which then directs my teaching.
While working at the SMART booth at ISTE, I met with lots of teachers who had questions about managing and implementing a SMART Board in a primary classroom; but one thing we all had in common was our enthusiasm for using such a versatile tool and eagerness to learn more and find new ways to implement SMART in our classrooms. I also got to spend lots of time discussing and demonstrating lesson ideas with SMART Notebook 11 software.
On a personal note, I have enjoyed working with SMART at my first ISTE. Each employee I meet is genuinely interested in my story and experience, and I have learned so much from working alongside them this week.
Find my presentation on SMART Notebook 11 on SMART Exchange
A wife and mother of two boys, Heather Sloan is a 21st CC Mentor, SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) and Kindergarten teacher at Oak Hills Elementary School in Oak Park, CA, where she has taught for 16 years. Sloan was chosen to attend the 2011 SEE Summit at the SMART headquarters in Calgary Canada, and she regularly trains teachers to use SMART products at her school, throughout the district and Ventura County. Sloan has also hosted and participated in multiple SMART Content Creation Seminars and User Groups, and she’s working to become a SMART Certified Lesson Developer.