Teacher’s perspective: District-adopted reading series
We talked to Alison about her upcoming FETC presentation, District-Adopted Reading Series on the SMART Board, to find out how she makes whole-class reading lessons more interactive using SMART Notebook collaborative learning software and the SMART Board interactive whiteboard.
EDCompass: What reading series do you use and why is it important to have your reading series lessons in a digital format on the SMART Board?
Alison: My district, Broward County Public Schools, uses Florida Treasures by McGraw Hill. My presentation is about how to turn an everyday whole-group reading lesson into an interactive, fun, engaging SMART Notebook lesson that can be saved, changed, and adapted allowing it to be used year after year. Rather than dragging out sentence strips, letter cards, and other materials for each lesson, SMART Notebook enables me to create the file once and it can be used forever.
EDCompass: What books are your students reading right now? How do your lessons complement the books?
Alison: My students read too many books to count or even name! Regarding the specific book that aligns with our reading series, however, each SMART Notebook file was created to follow the teacher’s edition for each story. Each lesson follows the suggested 5-day format and includes vocabulary, phonics, genre, focus skill and strategy, and grammar.
EDCompass: Do you create all the SMART Notebook lessons from scratch?
Alison: Yes and no — I used the online versions of the teacher’s editions, along with activities from the SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0. The vocabulary portion of each lesson was previously created by a fellow teacher who shared them on her website. I added or changed the graphics and added some more examples.
EDCompass: How easy is it to create these files?
Alison: Once you have a basic understanding of SMART Notebook, its easy. I use this analogy a lot when helping other educators understand SMART Notebook: The most important thing to remember is that everything is built in layers; just like putting on your clothes. If you have shoes and socks on, you can only see the part of your socks that sticks up above your shoes. You know that there are socks under there but you can’t see them. If you changed it around and put your shoes on first, then your socks, it would look pretty silly but you would no longer see your shoes but they’re still there. Creating SMART Notebook lessons are easier to think about and create if you keep this in mind.
EDCompass: How does the SMART Board interactive whiteboard help students acquire reading and writing skills?
Alison: Think about all of the technology that surrounds us in everyday life, internet, cell phones, iPads, iPods, Kindles, computers, digital cameras, etc. To adults, many of these things are new and foreign to us. But to students, it is normal! Technology is their language! The interactivity of the SMART Board speaks to my students. I feel that lessons are just easier for them to grasp when I incorporate technology, especially the SMART Board. Even the most reluctant students raise their hands wanting a chance to come up to the interactive whiteboard. They are actively and authentically engaged. I also love using the SMART Slate while I teach. My students can be at the SMART Board while I circulate throughout the rest of the class with the SMART Slate.
EDCompass: Is there a reading or writing skill that you’ve found is easier to teach or more engaging for students when you incorporate SMART products? Why?
Alison: I have found that ALL subjects and skills are easier to teach with the SMART Board. My students are always more engaged when I use SMART products. They love being able to come up to the board, display their work under the SMART Document Camera, and they especially love being able to answer questions using SMART Response.
EDCompass: Why do you want to share your ideas with other Florida teachers?
Alison: It would be selfish of me to want to keep these lessons all to myself. Teaching shouldn’t be about recreating the wheel. Teachers should be able to borrow and use other ideas from other teachers in order to make their lessons as effective as possible. After all, its really all about the students!
EDCompass: Do you have any advice for teachers who’d like to create SMART Notebook lessons for their district-adopted reading series?
Alison: Anything you can do with a dry erase board, you can do with a SMART Board. Anything you can do with a pocket chart and sentence strips, you can do with SMART Notebook. Our students are growing up with technology — as teachers we must embrace it and use it to reach our students. School needs to be a fun and exciting place!
Are you going to FETC next week? You can hear Alison’s presentation in SMART Room S220F and in SMART’s booth, 1101. You can pick up your copy of SMART presentation schedule in either location.