I Have a SMARTBoard! Now What???

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What an educational resource a SMARTBoard, or interactive whiteboard, can be for the classroom!  But, if you are using this as a projector only, you are missing MAJOR learning opportunities for your students.  Yes, the SMARTBoard is an excellent projection tool, but it is also a way to allow your students hands-on opportunities to work with, manipulate, and create to deepen their understanding of content in the classroom.  This resource has so many opportunities for whole group, small group rotations, and individualized learning.  This post will share a few tutorials, and classroom applications that will not only help engage students, but promote 21st century learning in the classroom.

One very easy application of the SMARTBoard is its use as a notetaker.  I especially liked this use because I could save the important notes shared and written with students who may have been absent during the class period.  By printing the notes, the students could add them to their notebooks, and have access to content/discussions missed during class.  This also provided opportunities for interactive, shared writing by students.  Whether primary or secondary classes, the note-taking capability allows  all students to have a voice and participate in the sharing of content.

Sorting and grouping activities also become a breeze with the SMARTBoard.  These activities help promote higher level thinking in an engaging manner.  Below is a short tutorial on how to set up a BASIC sorting/grouping activity.



SMART Notebook also has many manipulatives, images, and templates, located in their Gallery, to help teachers create meaningful learning activities.  Interactive learning tools, such as rulers, geometric shapes, compasses, protractors, geographic maps, and other images/resources are available for teacher use. The possibilities are endless in providing opportunities for meaningful learning!!

One resource that cannot be ignored is the online SMART Exchange.  Here is a compilation of interactive activities created for SMARTBoard use.  You will find lessons created and submitted by educators from around the world.  SMART Exchange provides many activities, grades Pre-K through 12th , in every content area.  There is even a search option by content and learning objectives.  SMART Notebook also has an activity builder that assists you in building learning activities to practice content.  Simply choose the activity, plug in your information, and you are ready to go! Why recreate the wheel?


Here are a few other suggested uses.  Please let me know how I can support you in your use of the SMARTBoard to optimize classroom learning, student engagement, and higher order thinking skills!

  • Class/Group Brainstorming
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Game-Based Learning (to reinforce classroom learning)
  • Sharing media whole class (videos, images, presentations, etc)
  • Online simulations
  • Everyday Math Online Resources
  • Sharing of iPAD apps via Airplay or Doceri
  • Interactive flannel board (primary students)
  • Start of Day routines
  • Classroom Management (ex. Class Dojo)
  • Manipulations of math tools
  • Virtual dissections
  • Record your lessons using SMARTBoard tool Recorder

Do you have suggestions on SMARTBoard uses you would like to share?  Please leave a comment below:)





Organization & Workflow: Symbaloo & Google Classroom

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Last week, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to the awesome K-5 staff of the Mexico Public School District.  For over 3 hours, we were able to share, discuss, and create using new tools presented to help maximize their first days of school with their new students.  Among the resources shared were Padlet and TodaysMeet.  (view brief tutorials on how to get started here: Padlet, TodaysMeet).

A large portion of our time together, was spent on helping the teachers organize their school year workflow.  As a former 4th grade self-contained classroom teacher, Google Classroom was a huge asset to my teacher toolbox.  However, realistically, this tool can be overwhelming to primary grade teachers and students.  So, the Web 2.0 tool, Symbaloo, was introduced to my K-3 teachers, as an option for organizing and managing tools to optimize classroom learning.  This post will share information, tutorials, and practical classroom uses for each.


WOW! What a resource for any teacher, regardless of grade level or content taught.  Symbaloo is a cloud based tool that allows teachers the opportunity to organize favorite websites and apps into, what Symbaloo refers to as, a webmix.  For teachers, this is an opportunity to organize all of your favorite websites and web tools to help promote and reinforce learning within the classroom.  I suggested my K-3 teachers use this as a default homepage for their young learners.  What I really like about Symbaloo is that you can incorporate visual cues/icons for your early readers, struggling learners, or ELL students.  Here are other ideas, for Symbaloo use, shared during our PD workshops:

  • create a “tile” with each student’s picture, linking to their own differentiated webmix
  • create tiles, with covers of popular books, linked to online reading of texts to be used during Reader’s Workshop
  • organize different content area sites/apps into different content webmixes
  • primary teachers can use a temporary “webpage”
  • create a webmix, to share with parents, to reinforce learning in the classroom

Getting Started with Symbaloo (video)


Google Classroom

As I stated earlier, the release of Google Classroom for all GAFE (Google Apps for Education) districts and teachers, proved to be an invaluable resource in my teacher toolbox.  As a teacher who encouraged online sharing of work, my Google Drive became bogged down with many assignments shared with me by my students.  Although I was excited to start the process of becoming a “paperless classroom”, I found myself spending quite a bit of time locating the assignments in my Drive and placing them in appropriate folders to be viewed, commented on, and graded.  Google Classroom helped organize my students’ workflow.

Through Google Classroom, teachers have the opportunity to create different “classrooms” for each class/content area taught.  As a teacher, I can post announcements and assignments for my students.  Before Google Classroom, I really had to emphasize the importance of making a copy of any assignment I shared through Google Drive to my students.  If they did not make a copy, they would inevitably change the original template or have an ongoing, ever growing assignment with every student’s response.  As a teacher, I would do my best to prevent this, by making all my shared Drive items, view only, forcing my students to make a copy to complete, but Google Classroom takes care of that for you.  There is an option to create an assignment/copy for each student.  What a time saver!

Google Classroom also creates a Drive folder for each created “classroom” to help organize student work. No longer was I searching my Drive looking for a particular student’s assignment.  I simply accessed the folder for the classroom the work was assigned, and there was the completed, turned in assignment.  Did I mention,  with one click of the mouse, I had a list of the students who had completed and turned in assignments, and those who had not?  No more marking names off the endless supply of class checklists!  Don’t forget, I could access my Classroom, and so could the students, from anywhere there was a computer, internet connection, and access to their Google account.  Want the icing on the cake??? Google Classroom now has a free app!  I could check assignments while waiting in the doctor’s office if needed!

Whew!! So many benefits to Google Classroom.  I have provided a Google Classroom Basic video, and a more in depth video of Google Classroom possibilities.  Hopefully you will find these useful.  As always, please leave comments below sharing any questions, ideas, and/or comments about any of the tools that were shared today!

Google Classroom Basics (video)

Google Classroom Pt. 2 (video)

TodaysMeet in the Classroom

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This week I started my new position with the Mexico Public Schools #59 district.  My new title is the Instructional Technology Facilitator for grades Pre-K-12.  To say this is an exciting time for me would be an understatement.  However, I am still a little lost not getting a classroom and new resources ready for the new school year.  You see, this will be my 1st year, without my own classroom, in 16 years.  I will truly miss my 16 years as a 4th grade eMINTS teacher, but am so looking forward to supporting the teachers in this school district.  What a way to reach more than 25 students each year, right?

This week, I gave my 1st official presentation to the awesome new teachers of this district.  The presentation was towards the end of the week.  These new professionals were completing a very informational-packed week, and I wanted to provide them with a resource that was simple to use and easily adaptable to any grade level and/or content area.  I chose the FANTABULOUS tool, TodaysMeet.

TodaysMeet is a free web tool that allows back-channeling opportunities, real-time, online conversations that occur during an activity or event, within the classroom or other setting.  Did I mention it is free?  Did I also mention you do not have to have an account to use this awesome tool? (Although, signing up, for free, does allow you to have more use options.)

Intrigued?  Let’s get started. (Click on this link for a short tutorial on logging in, and getting started with TodaysMeet) :


Like it?  Here are just a few ideas for TodaysMeet uses:

  • during whole staff PD or meetings
  • during whole class discussions
  • during videos/movies regarding curricular content
  • during read alouds (reinforcing reading strategies)
  • during book clubs
  • as a formative /check for understanding opportunity (exit tickets)
  • collaborative piece/documentation for group projects/work
  • ongoing reflections
  • real-time collaborative piece b/w teacher and students or student groups for content practice

Do you have any additional ideas?  Please share in the comments below.  I hope you found this tool useful!