Learning is fun! How I use Activity Builder in SMART Notebook 11 software
By Emily Sparago
13-year-old eighth-grade student
Dodd Middle School, Cheshire, Connecticut
As an auntie, “teacher,” and avid SMART Board interactive whiteboard user, I provide my four-year-old nephew, Lincoln, with mini-lessons every Saturday. These lessons start with letter recognition where the letter is displayed on my SMART Board interactive whiteboard. We continue on with a song or video found on YouTube to help teach the sound of the letter. I also prepare a tracing page on the SMART Board where we can write the letter together – I do this for both upper and lower case letters. To get a better sense of writing, I have him complete a letter tracing worksheet, focusing on the letter we are learning that day. To finish it off, I end with an activity that reinforces the letter.
One day, I cut out a big “E” and little pictures of things…some started with the letter E and others didn’t. He had to distinguish the pictures, glue the ones that started with the letter E onto the big cut out of E, and throw out the others. Another activity was for the letter “G.” With this lesson we created, what I called, a “green mural.” I presented him with a bunch of little things – mini plastic dinosaurs, dice, straws – and had Lincoln pick out the green ones and glue it to a piece of green poster board. This, I know, he enjoyed.
One feeling that many teachers, or even aunties and parents, will never forget is when our “students” are eager to learn. My heart is filled to the brim with accomplishment and pure proudness when Lincoln says to me on Saturday morning, “We are going to learn…letter ___ today! I can’t wait, Emmy!” It’s at that point when I just want to pick him up, squeeze him, and tell him how happy I am to know that he wants to learn. And when I include the SMART Board in my lessons, he becomes even more engaged. Lincoln sits on the rug, patiently, while the projector starts up and a lesson in SMART Notebook collaborative learning software appears.
I recently used one of the new tools found in SMART Notebook 11 called Activity Builder. It’s a feature that makes “multiple choice” more interactive. Students come up to the SMART Board and drag an option to the main object (called an Activity Object) where it may be accepted or rejected depending on if it is the correct answer (this is customized by the teacher.) Since the main focus of our lesson that day was the letter “I,” the Activity Object was an enlarged letter I. The objects accepted into the letter “I” consisted of words starting or ending with I, or even words with the letter in the middle of the word. Lincoln had to drag the words that included the letter “I” to the Activity Object hoping it would “eat” that word. Lincoln appreciated the new concept and loved the idea of the letter I “eating words.”
Want to learn how you can create a lesson using the Activity Builder?
- Start by clicking on the tab along the side of your SMART Notebook file that looks like a puzzle piece.
- Next, create your “activity object” (or the object you want to drag other items to). When you have your picture, text, etc., click on the activity builder tab again, and select edit (while the object is highlighted); this will create a striped coating over that activity object.
- Now, you want to make your options – make some that are correct and some that are not. In my example, I made “24” as the activity object and I made some math sentences to be my options. As you can see, some have a sum/product/difference/quotient of 24, and others don’t. You want to tell SMART Notebook which options the activity object should select, and which ones it should deny. Drag one of the options to the tab, and release it in either the box that says “accept these objects” or “reject these objects.”
- When you are finished, select “done,” maybe spruce it up a bit, and let your students have fun!
SMART Notebook software has a huge variety of tools and features and I can tell you first hand that the younger students are not the only ones who get to have fun with the SMART Board and software. As a high-schooler, I appreciate the SMART Board engagement in the classroom and so does my four-year-old nephew. So take advantage of the wonderful features, like Activity Builder, SMART Notebook has to offer and make learning even more fun and interactive!
About the author
At just 13, Emily Sparago is a soon-to-be high school freshman at Dodd Middle School in Cheshire, Connecticut, with a passion for teaching and technology. Sparago has wanted to be a teacher since she was five years old. Her first experience using a SMART Board was in third-grade and it was love at first sight for Emily. Ever since then, she’s been researching SMART Boards and secretly craving one. It was three years ago when Sparago brought it to her parents’ attention that she wanted her own SMART Board.
After raising the money, she reached her goal and purchased a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Word quickly got out, not only about Sparago’s SMART Board, but also her love of teaching. Since then, she has had the opportunity to be a guest teacher at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut on a few different occasions and she hopes to teach more in the future.