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In this lesson, we’ll examine the basic functions of a SMART Board. We’ll also discuss add-on hardware and software that can be used with a SMART Board.

Test your knowledge by completing a short quiz afterwards.

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What Is a SMART Board?

Your principal had called a special meeting after school to announce that the school would be adding SMART Boards to the classrooms. Fellow teachers immediately begin to whisper to each other.

Comments range from, ‘So that’s why we aren’t getting raises next year, they are investing in machines instead of teachers!’ to ‘This is fantastic! This new technology will solve all my teaching problems!’Neither of these comments is accurate. Simply updating technology in a classroom does not solve everything; you still need to be a good teacher. However, technology can be used to enhance a teacher’s lesson if it is used properly.

The first step to using technology properly is to understand what it is and what it can do for your classroom.A SMART Board is one brand of interactive whiteboard. At its simplest, an interactive whiteboard allows you to project an image and ‘interact’ with it by writing on it or moving it around. The SMART Board is connected to a computer and works with a projector. The projector displays what is open on the computer and, rather than using a mouse or keyboard (although you can use those also), the SMART Board is a touch screen, which allows you to manipulate anything on the screen using your fingers. It is similar to how you would use a tablet or iPad. Special pens are included in a SMART Board to make writing in different colors quick and easy.

Older versions of the SMART Board only worked with one point of contact on the board, so multiple people could not be touching the board at the same time. The upgraded SMART Board 800 and newer models are equipped with multi-touch technology, which allow up to four students to collaborate using the board by responding to multiple touches at the same time. This means two students could be solving a math problem at the same time on the board or labeling a diagram together easily.

Add-On Features of a SMART Board

Besides just the board itself, there are many add-ons available. A wireless keyboard and mouse can be used with it, but a write-on tablet can be purchased that allows you to interact with the tablet and have everything appear on the projected screen in front of you. Both the wireless mouse and the write-on tablet are great tools because they allow the teacher to circulate the room, which is essential for good classroom management, while still interacting with the screen at the front of the classroom.Older SMART Boards used clickers, wireless handheld devices that can be connected to it so students can answer quiz questions and polls.

The data is collected and displayed in real time. Newer boards allow students to interact using smart phones, iPods, and iPads through a downloadable app. While clickers were somewhat limited in how students could respond, the app allows students to even type in words for their answers. This allows the teacher to put up a question, such as ‘name a predator,’ and the students can type in a variety of responses, which appear on the board.

SMART Board Software

The SMART Board software program called SMART Notebook is what really helps make SMART Boards a great educational tool. SMART Boards can certainly be used without the SMART Notebook software, but then it is basically just a giant touch screen in the classroom. This program takes presentations beyond simple slide shows and makes them interactive, which helps keep students engaged. SMART Notebook allows the teacher to create lessons involving matching games, adding labels to diagrams, quickly graphing math problems, and much more.

Of course, teachers do not always have time to create their own lessons from scratch. Fortunately, there are many pre-made lessons on practically any topic created by fellow teachers and uploaded to the SMART Board website that are available for download.

How SMART Boards Benefit Teachers

This technology can solve some of the problems teachers face in the classroom. For example, teachers know that calling on students to write on the board is a good way to keep some students engaged; however, problems can occur with this. Using traditional whiteboards, the student may write too large or too small or illegibly for other students to see.

Using the SMART Board, the teacher can resize the student’s writing and even quickly change it from handwriting to typed text.Data analysis is increasingly important in teaching. Teachers quickly need to assess what students know and what they need help with, and have the data to back it up. When using clickers or the iPad app to ask students questions, student responses are instantly displayed in a graph.

This helps the teacher know if the majority of students comprehend the material or if more practice is needed in that area. The data can also be saved and exported for further analysis.Math teachers will especially love the graphing features available when using the SMART Notebook software. English teachers will enjoy how easy it is to edit text on the screen to demonstrate proofreading techniques. The ability to label maps and diagrams is excellent for social studies and science classrooms. Of course, while one piece of technology cannot solve all teaching problems, SMART Boards can help teachers in any subject design more engaging lessons for their students.

Lesson Summary

A SMART Board is a brand of interactive whiteboard. It allows teachers and students to control the computer through touching the screen. Add-on devices and software can be purchased to increase the interactivity by allowing students to answer quiz questions and have the data graphed in real time. The SMART Notebook software allows teachers and students to easily create interactive lessons.

This technology can help make lessons interesting to students by allowing them to play important roles in the lesson by interacting with the technology.

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