SmartBoard Day 1

2/19/2007 12:24:00 am

As I walked down the hall towards my classroom early Friday morning the door of my classroom was wide open. A couple of students were standing in the hallway peeking in. I walked in and there was Chris VanCrynest, our tech, just finishing with the software installation for my brand spanking new SmartBoard! I don't know what I'd do without Chris. Every time I come to him with some new hairbrained scheme involving technology in my classroom he says "No problem."

The SmartBoard is permanently installed at the front of the room and I've got a wireless mouse and keyboard. It took some getting used to. I tend to write on the board while resting the side of my hand on it and with a SmartBoard you can only touch one spot at a time. I'm also just learning the software and what it can do, so, that first day, teaching was a little slow. ;-)

The kids were crazy excited too. Everyone wanted to touch it ... and they did. ;-) Several teachers walking by in the hall couldn't help but notice the projector hanging from the ceiling and walked in to try it out too.

Not knowing exactly how this was going to work I gave one kid the mouse and another the keyboard. In my first class we had a lot of notes to catch up on. This is my Pre-Cal 40S which I'm podcasting this semester. I forgot to plug in the bluetooth headset to recharge overnight and we had trouble configuring the software to record the podcast with another headset before class began so unfortunately the audio from this class was lost.

Anyway, I set up the notebook software with 12 blank pages and, at first, wrote notes on the board they way I normally do (slide 1 below); although I did stumble a bit interacting with the board ... I could "feel" myself learning as we went along.

By the time I got to the second slide I started using the handwriting recognition software to convert some of my chicken scratches into text. By the third slide the student with the keyboard started typing over my fumbling errors. The fourth slide shows how it ended. I dictated the notes while a student typed them up on the screen for all of us to see. The only time I wrote on the board was to put a box around an important point. The kids also taught me how to change the text colours to more than just the four (black, red, blue and green) the "markers" are preset to write with. That's how we got purple into that last slide.

In my next class I tried something different. I'm still thinking of ways to incorporate the atelier method into my teaching. We're preparing for a test on Monday. I made four slides each with a problem on it. The class was divided into groups of four. It was a race to see which group could solve each problem first. As they did so, one student went up to the board to write their solution. They were hesitant at first. ("How do I know if I'm right?" ... "We'll find out together.") After their solutions were displayed we went over them. I first pointed out the things I thought were good about each solution and then moved on to ways it could be improved. The students seemed to feel more comfortable sharing the different ways they approached solving the problems. The discussions were rich, the students were attentive and, when it was all over, everyone agreed they had learned a lot and enjoyed this style of learning. We only got through two problems but they served as leaping off points for some great conversations and learning.

After each class I saved the notebook ( and a pdf copy as well. The pdf version was uploaded to my SlideShare account and published to each class blog. (I leave Firefox open and logged in to my SlideShare account to make it pushbutton easy.) I hope to do this with every class each day.

This weekend Terry Kaminsky from Alberta sent my his gallery of SmartBoard math tools (Thanks Terry! Lots of great stuff in there!) and I've started listening to the SMARTBoard Lessons Podcast (blog) by Joan Badger and Ben Hazzard. Sure enough, this is the very same weekend they sent some "blog love" my way. (Thanks guys ... right back atchya! ;-))

I've looked at the teaching resources available at the SMART Technologies website for Canadian Secondary schools and there's not much there. Joan and Ben's site seems to be a better resource. If for nothing else than to help teachers using interactive whiteboards to connect. I was also impressed with the stuff Terry shared with me ... there should be a wiki somewhere, where teachers using these boards can store and share the lessons/resources they have made.

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