Monthly Archives: December 2011

SMARTboard Awesomeness!

I love my SMARTboard!  A few years ago our school purchased 6 SMARTboards.  The deal was if you were interested in having a board, you needed to apply.  The application was about how you would use the tool, implications for student learning, how it fits with 21st century learning skills and thinking, and lastly, how this might impact transformation for you, the teacher, your students and their families in regards to learning.  This was the beginning of my learning…….
It all begins prior to students arriving in Kindergarten.  As a teacher of young children I am always thinking about where authentic learning opportunities for my students might arise and how to capture and recognize when they might occur.  Then I can better help children think deeply, reflect and celebrate what they discover.  The SMARTboard is a tool that helps with this big idea.  The idea of discovery.  In this post I have written about how this genius tool has made an impact on learning for myself, my students, their families and others.  This is my own personal experience and discovery which continues to change and unfold possibilities everyday that I turn my SMARTboard on.
In Kindergarten we have lots of opportunities for children to manipulate, create and design their learning.  For me this evolves through a variety of hands on tools like manipulatives and a variety of technologies used for math, writing, reading, scientific thinking and exploration.  Children come to school with lots of great ideas about what they want to know, questions and curiosities that they may have and lots of enthusiasm to learn.  The challenge for me is trying to capture the excitement and enthusiasm of what I observe so I can help my students reflect, share, collaborate and question their discoveries and observations.  It is through these experiences that children become invested and engaged in their learning and feel successful and want to take risks.
During an exploration and ease in time I set up the board with dice.  On the dice are dots.  Children take turns touching the dice.  As it rolls children call out the number they see.  Here is the beginning stages of learning how to subitize and count.  The interactive feature of the board provides an excitement because the children are wondering and curious about what number of dots will flash next.  The SMART tools provide an additional interactive experience for the children because they may decide to count the dots on the dice, write the number of dots they see, create an equation and begin exploring with symbols like =,+, etc.
The dice also have letters and numbers too!  During a literacy time children may choose to roll the dice and tell the name of the letter as well as the sound the letter makes.  Again this is an example of how children can begin to practice learning skills they will need to become strong readers. Image The children in the photograph are making connections with their learning, taking turns and learning how to collaborate with a peer around a learning experience.  The interactive features of the board provide children with an opportunity to interact with letters in a fun and engaging way.  This is a great way for all children to be a part of a learning opportunity.  I have never had a child say no or not want to be a part of any learning opportunities with the SMARTboard.  It is a great self-esteem and confidence builder for all children.  I observe children changing their thinking throughout the day, looking at tasks differently and asking questions of each other about their observations.  This is where I see and hear rich, deep and meaningful comments and conversations about a child’s understanding.
The notebook files are handy too.  I am able to create and design learning pages that I want the children to interact with throughout the day.  The key word here is interact.  I love having pages created, but find myself changing and altering pages, so I now create my own.  I always have in my mind what it is that I want the children to interact with and experience with each page.  For me pre-made pages can be really helpful and also limiting. I create my own or choose pages from our school folder where other teachers have shared pages they have created for some of the programs we use at our school.  This is a nice way to share and collaborate with colleagues.
The beauty of the board is that many times the children discover and make connections with ideas that I may not of thought of.  In this

Imagephotograph you will see  a child using the mouse as well as interacting with the board during a Fundations lesson.  Children make words, practice letter and sound recognition as well as increase their understanding of phonemic awareness through this type of experience.  Word play is also very important for young children.  Children love to build words using strategies they have learned and then share there ideas and then others begin to share what they notice and observe also.  Another great learning opportunity that gets at a child’s deeper understanding of what they are learning.
Children love to share things that they find interesting, have questions about and make connections with.  Everyday the children have opportunities throughout the day to share.  This is a great way for children to begin to understand what it feels like to share, reflect and interact with others in a positive ImageImageand collaborative way around their ideas and discoveries.  In the photographs you will see 2 children who made different, but similar observations about a seed pod that another child brought in to share in our classroom.      After the child adjusted the document camera to wear she wanted it she started to talk about what she found, where she found it and what she observed.  Then she asked if anyone else had observations.  So the learning begins…….  One child comes up to the board and says;”I notice…….” He noticed that their were 6 seeds in the pod.  When I asked him “How do you know?” He made tally marks above each seed.  This was a wonderful example of what happens when we, teachers open up opportunities to talk and share about things they find important.  So then another child volunteers to come up and says,”I made a connection…I see 1,2,3,4,5,6 too!”  He used a different way of representing his thinking.  Then almost in chorus all of the children said;”You showed another way of making 6, you get a change your mind card!”  So now all the children have learned 2 different ways to count and represent 6.  This was not a long, lengthy lesson, but a 5 minute window into our day!

I love the SMARTboard.  It is an amazing tool that helps children connect, interact,collaborate and make connections with their learning and each other.  As a teacher I find myself being pleasantly surprised by all the different digital tools that are available to use to help promote learning.  I find myself learning daily along with the children about all the different tools and options that are available to use to enhance learning.  Daily use is really where I have learned the most.  Children have this amazing ability to ask what they want to know and to take risks with things they may not fully understand.  I find that this is where a lot of my own learning and growing happens also.The SMARTboard for me has really been an inspirational tool not only for myself, but for children and their families too!  Check out our class and life studies blogs to see and listen to how we are transforming as learners.  Really Wonderful!