Like a snowball gaining in size and momentum, bright, white, digital SMART Boards are on a roll taking over K-12 classrooms. These powerful visual tools have revolutionized the way teachers run their classrooms, including how they handle simple record-keeping tasks, engage student interest, demonstrate complex information, assess learning and prepare students for an increasingly digital world.
Knowing what’s new and what’s helpful for classroom instruction is something we must keep in mind whenever we create curricula or are just simply chatting with students. That’s why if you’re able to snag a SMART Board for your classroom (which is awesome!), we want to help you make the most of it. You could use it to:
SMART Boards in the classroom at the elementary level are incredibly helpful for start-of-day routines such as taking attendance and lunch count.
For example, before class every day, a first grade teacher could post large, colorful icons marked with individual student names. The board could also show pictures of the day’s lunch choices. Then, instead of waiting for roll call and lunch count or checking in on a magnet board or pocket chart, the students could use their fingers to guide their icons to their lunch choices. Once the record-keeping is complete, the teacher could report attendance and lunch counts.
This process also helps young students become comfortable with the touch process that is becoming so important in using Wi-Fi digital tools, such as computer notepads and e-readers that some schools are adopting for instructional use.
As you well know, teachers often jokingly say that it takes a few years to develop “eyes” on the back of their heads so they can detect misbehavior when facing away from students. SMART Boards change classroom management by minimizing the amount of time teachers need to turn their back to the class to write on dry-erase whiteboards or chalkboards.
By connecting a computer to a SMART Board, you can stand face forward and attract student attention to a particular topic by sharing PowerPoint presentations, software lessons, or interactive websites with the entire class in one sitting—and you could do this before students begin small group or independent work on the same topic.
During SMART Board lessons, you could help students gain digital and presentation skills by give them turns manipulating the equipment. Think of this practice as the digital age equivalent of going up to the blackboard to solve a problem.
Academically speaking, at the same time, SMART Boards can enhance your teaching of various lessons. Examples include:
Young children have short attention spans and respond better to instruction if it includes movement and hands-on action, such as getting up to answer a question or demonstrating how to use a tool.
Not surprisingly, the Australian journal Teaching Science notes that kindergarten students enjoy touching SMART Boards to answer questions and participate in lessons. They also respond well to the colorful graphics that are much easier for a large group to view on a large screen.
Using electronic pens to circle items or moving virtual objects with their fingers, kindergarten students can sort items on a SMART Board to show what they know about a particular subject. For example, you could ask them to separate objects that require electricity from those that don’t.
If you teach upper elementary or higher grade levels, consider asking your students to demonstrate their knowledge by taking multiple choice tests with the help of SMART Boards. They could also participate in interactive test review sessions before the final test near the conclusion of a learning unit.
If your school has the right software and equipment, students could even respond to questions on the screen by using individual, handheld remote clickers that record their answers for later review and grading by the teacher.
A good reminder: the objective of using a SMART Board isn’t to take traditional book learning, hands-on experiences, or paper testing away from students. Instead, they’re designed to reinvigorate and engage students up by adding variety to instruction, getting them moving, and providing cool ways to respond to questions.
Especially in one-computer classrooms, SMART Boards are smart choices because they quickly provide a big picture of learning. Connected to computers, they offer whole-group access to colorful, educational websites, powerful assessment software, and teacher-made materials tailored to a class’s needs. Enjoy yours!