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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  1. Anonymous19/2/07 06:40

    Glad you are liking the SMART Board. I go into the classrooms with our SMART Boards and do a lesson with teacher/students. Just posted a SMART Board entry on my blog you might be interested in at

    There is so much that can be accomplished with SMART Boards and the kids love it.

  2. Darren, I want to recommend TI Smartview software. It's great for the smartboard and one of the few software packages that I found truly amazing. They've got version 2.0 out that has even more features. Have fun, the smartboard is a great tool!!

  3. Anonymous22/2/07 09:40


    Please keep us up to date on your adventures with the new Smartboard. I have been looking in to trying to get a couple for my school too and could use the insight.

  4. Anonymous22/2/07 10:07

    I dont even know the equivilance of Pi is but it is joyous to know that I will learn that. There is so much stuff to learn even though it might be boring it is very much cool. I dont even know what triganometry but i'm going to learn it some day. I cant belive you learn your students learn this much stuff and it seems easy to them. I even wrote a post about your blogs and blogging students on my blog ( I hope you drop by and read it.

  5. Anonymous22/2/07 10:58

    Thanks for the link Julia. I'm going to check that out. ;-)

    Roland, the SmartBoard has turned my classroom and teaching on it's head. They'd have to get past me kicking and screaming to take it away from me. ;-)

    I'm still thinking about how using a SmartBoard changes teaching and learning in my class. Watch this space for updates ... as soon as I find the time to write. ;-)

    Thanks, for dropping by again Eddie. I'm off to your blog to read the latest news. Cheers! ;-)

  6. Hi Darren,
    I heard we made you blush! :)
    I like the slide show that you made with the Notebook file. I am going to mention it our podcast if that's O.K.
    Would you be willing to be a guest on our podcast?

  7. Anonymous28/2/07 15:41

    Hi Joan,

    I'd be honoured to "appear" on your podcast. Sounds like fun. ;-)

    Email me and we'll set it up.


  8. Anonymous2/3/07 22:34

    Hi Darren,
    We'll set something up soon. If you have any questions about the SMART Board, you know how to get a hold of me.

  9. Anonymous6/3/07 10:10

    We loved hearing your podcast today about Eddie. Yes, he is a very articulate student; I am lucky to have and many other bright students in my class! You, and your students, really motivated us to continue our great blogging!
    Also, we just got an Activboard in our class, which is similar to your Smartboard. I am still learning. I will continue reading your blog to get more info and resources. Thanks!
    -Mrs. Emmert

  10. Anonymous6/3/07 23:08

    Thanks for dropping by Mrs. Emmert! My students have learned more from "meeting" Eddie than I can tell you.

    I'm only podcasting one of my classes this semester but Eddie came up in my other grade 12 class as well. They were also impressed with Eddie ... the experience has caused them to reflect on how they write and what they post to the blog.

    Eddie's visit has underscored for them the fact of their audience and that what they write has an impact on people they've never met ... such as a 10 year old boy in far away Georgia. ;-)

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  12. Anonymous13/3/07 10:00

    Mr. Kuropatwa you are an inspiration!