Mr P's SMART Board

One teacher's record of the implementation of a SMART Board Interactive whiteboard into a primary school classroom. For links see the Simply Science FURL. For science education try Simply Science site. For ICT check out My Other Blog. For one with the lot then go to my Suprglu archive.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Oh Damn Not Such a SMART Idea

With June comes the time to do the mid-year student reports. Alas the need to gather data, write the reports etc has meant that not a lot has happened with the board over the past couple of days. Today though it was time to put it to work again as we began to prepare our children for their first child-centred interview. (This year instead of it being the formal parent-teacher meeting to talk over progress we are going to have the children lead the interview presenting their work themselves.)

To ready the children for the interview it was deemed important to provide guidelines within which the children could discuss and present examples of their work. To help them organise thier presentation, I decided that I would use the board. Half way through the listing of the subject areas I realised that each had sub sections that needed to be listed and then subdivided again. Though I could, (and did), add extra pages quite easily, having to juggle around the pages seemed not quite as efficient a process as it might have been. It was around about half way through that I realised that I should have used the SMART Ideas software. Using SMART Ideas would have allowed me to more easily multi-layer my work and then later display the criteria in outline format. Instead I had to resort to Cut and Paste to bring things together. A lesson that may be well learnt when doing similar activities.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Seeing Eye To Eye, With The Boss

Part way through the teaching this morning and the Principal came in with one of those, "I'm about to ask you a favour looks". It seems that a fellow Prin who also taught at our school was visiting this morning and my Prin thought it would be neat if he saw the SMARTBoard in action. Not a problem says I, just drop in as you wish. Fortunately I had that morning sourced some more animation/graphics, (the latter from the SMART Gallery), related to our new focus the eye.

Ten minutes later it was "Okay children, let's sit down on the floor and show Mr C our board." Fortunately the children are getting used to their new found celebrity status as the whiteboard room and they took things in their stride. They were so good that they did most of the demo showing the pen to text capability, along with other features such as changing properties, using the on-board keyboard and sundry other features. I almost felt redundant.

After our quick "wow" intro it was down to some serious work on the eyes. Again the BrainPop movie was just what the doctor ordered to show off how the board can be used to the max. We were able to stop pause and replay to our hearts content. Even more powerful however was the way in which we could draw on the image and annotate to make a point before we replayed. Mr C was most impressed, straight away suggesting that he needed to bring in his whole staff to check out these whizz bang boards.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Time To Draw Breath

Oh wow was this another biggey or not? Today in our little discussions that we have often, up came the subject of breathing and how the lungs work. Well last week we had discussed the circulatory system and in passing had related this to the lungs. Today it was full on with the breathing. Of course I headed straight for BrainPop but alas the respiratory animations were in the pay section. A Google on "animation and respiratory" bought up lots of references to Brainpop, which I didn't need and also to KidsHealth, which didn't quite cut it either. Then I remembered How Stuff Works. Now even though this site is more aimed at senior students than my little grade 3/4's, it does have some neat animations so over I cruised. Sure enough, in among some interesting but rather dense text, were two excellent animations showing just what I wanted. Leaving the pages up over recess, when we came in it was "on with the show". Once again the board showed it's versatility as we stopped, replayed, annotated, labeled and generally had great fun dissecting the system. The number and breadth of questions and "what if's" that were generated, (not by me I must add), were really impressive. Twenty minutes later the children were still wanting more so we had a look at another animation I had found at kidshealth dealing with asthma. That was very informative for many of the children had either direct personal experiences with this disease or knew someone who had experiences.

We didn't use the animation in the Human Body part of the Gallery in the SMART Notebook as I thought it more suited to individuals rather than a whole class situation. I did find on the net a couple of nice short articles on breathing that soon became cloze documents in Word. I also found a neat labeling diagram at Enchanted Learning which rounded out a neat two hour session.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Look Out For The Poddle

Well I nearly put my foot in it again today, (that's the Poddle not the puddle). As my senior unit colleague was coming into my room again whilst I was off playing soccer outside, I enquired what she was going to regale my little darlings with. She said that they would conclude the work on mass they had been doing by looking at how you can make several alternate combinations of mass when measuring with pan balances. I "foolishly" said that I thought I had seen an interactive that covered just this type of activity and left saying I would get it ready. Of course a quick search reminded me again that there are increasing times when my memory is not as functional as I recall it used to be. Alas in my set of Learning Federation objects, (see Oh For A Keyboard below), and at other sites I couldn't find what I thought I had seen. Undaunted it was off to Google and after about five minutes I found the Poddles at PBS Cyberchase games. After a quick five minute exploration at lunchtime we had the activity in hand. A later debrief revealed that the Poddles was just what the doctor had ordered.

Another neat activity that was greatly enhanced by the board today was with a reading activity. All children had a copy of the text however when we came to look through the passage for "tricky" words it was the digital copy shown onto the board where attention was drawn. Adding annotations directly to the passage via the board only made it even more clear as was the possibility of highlighting how the surrounding text can offer assistance on working out what "tricky" words might mean. Much more powerful than holding up an A4 or even A3 piece of paper and asking children to direct their attention to it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Oh For A Keyboard

Today we had a fit of the frustrations and found out about one of the limitations of the onboard keyboard. We were looking in particular at nets of solids and had "successfully" (?), used the Smart Notebook for drawing a number of freehand examples. I then decided to switch to Word and show the children how to use Autoshapes to create custom made nets. Of course moving the autoshapes around just using the arrow buttons is not all that accurate and I wanted to show the children how to use Ctrl with the arrow keys. Using this combination allows you to move shapes a pixel at a time, (a much more satisfactory way of positioning shapes). Alas, try as we might, the on board floating keyboard just doesn't have the functionality to enable the use of Ctrl and the arrow keys. Alas it was back to teaching from the laptop keyboard at the back of the room. Not nearly as satisfactory I noticed.

As we had a couple of free minutes at the end of the day we had a play with "Wishball", a learning object from the Learning Federation All Government schools in my home state of Victoria should have copies of these learning objects in their schools. Most if not all are eminently suited to use on an IWB.