Adding Style to your SMART Board Lessons

Adding Style to your SMART Board Lessons

This session highlighted some of the advanced features of the Notebook software that really make the SMART Board an engaging, interactive, and exciting classroom tool.

By manipulating simple color and layer options, teachers can create a host of complex SMART Board activities.  This session also examined the SMART Exchange which enables teachers to search, by standard, for pre-made SMART Board lessons and activities.


Overall, this session provided some great information with regard to the “keystrokes and operations” of the SMART Board.  I would definitely recommend it to newer SMART Board users.

“Con” is perhaps too harsh for this section of the post as the title of this session didn’t promise anything more than it delivered, but I still felt there could have been more of a discussion as to how the SMART Board could be implemented to foster higher order and critical thinking.  Additionally, I would have liked to discuss how the SMART Board can bring learning outside of the classroom via the built-in screen capture software.

The Future of Textbooks

The Future of Textbooks
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt stands as one of the first major textbook publishers to publish a textbook as an “app.”  While many publishers offer e-book versions of their texts, those actually differ very little from their printed counterparts.  HMH Fuse is a comprehensive Algebra 1 resource that may change the way we teach math.

According to the presenter and accompanying website, in contrast to most e-books (or flat files) “students and educators using HMH Fuse: will benefit from:

  • Instructional videos that teach or re-teach all key concepts
  • Math Motion is a step-by-step interactive demonstration that displays the process to solve complex equations
  • Homework Help provides at-home support for intricate problems by providing hints for each step in the solution
  • Vocabulary support throughout with links to a complete glossary that includes audio definitions
  • Tips, hints, and links that enable students to acquire the help they need to understand the lessons every step of the way
  • Quizzes that assess student’s skills before they begin a concept and at strategic points throughout the chapters. Instant, automatic grading of quizzes lets students know exactly how they have performed
  • Immediate assessment results sent to teachers so they can better differentiate instruction”

This “app” is currently being piloted, but results have yet to be released to the public.  I think the instructional videos that can be paused, rewound, and played at a student’s own pace could certainly benefit those that don’t quite “get it” the first time around.

I am very interested to see how HMH Fuse performed against the control group.

WebOs Tablets in Education

WebOs Tablets in Education
In this presentation, a representative from Hewlett Packard introduced their pre-production model tablet (their answer to Apple’s iPad) – due to come out in early July.

What immediately stands out about this device is that the operating system (the software behind the applications that run on it) is almost entirely cloud based.  To put that into simpler terms, if you were to lose your tablet or drop it into the bathtub, none of your data, settings, files, or applications would be lost.  EVERYTHING is saved to the Internet.

One distinct advantage of this approach to computing is that user can access “their” computer from any device with Internet access.  This introduces new possibilities with regard to device implementation in schools.  Districts wouldn’t necessarily be binded into multi-year contracts since the device itself is almost irrelevant.

Without getting overly technical, this seems like the right direction for educational tools.  However, this particular device is far too new for widespread implementation.  Here’s where I see this device’s shortcomings:

  • No one has piloted this thing in a classroom yet.
  • It has NO VIDEO OUT capabilities.
  • At the time of the presentation there were only 7,000 “Apps” compared to Android and Apple’s hundreds of thousands (this number is expected to increase over time).
  • There is no classroom management software (think iTalc or LAN School) for this device yet.

Espresso Education

Espresso Education

This pre K-5 web based resource is built around learning modules designed to address specific learning outcomes and is packed with educational video, multimedia activities, worksheets, fact files, and interactive maps.  Additionally, Espresso includes a weekly News Roundup that brings news into the classroom through topical, age-appropriate video clips.

While Espresso Elementary is relatively new on this side of the pond, 60% of classrooms in the United Kingdom utilize this resource.  Features that may be of special interest to teachers include standards based resource searching, a virtual teacher resource center, and a “route creator” that could greatly help facilitate differentiation.  Espresso Elementary greatly compliments SMART Board instruction, and is extremely student friendly.

One more logistical note regarding Espresso: all downloadable resources are free to use in perpetuity regardless of the condition of the license.

Google Docs and Data Analysis

Conditional Formatting.

Take advantage of a lesser known Google Docs Spreadsheet function – “Change colors with rules…” to view data “horizontally” and “vertically.”  For this particular rubric, I highlighted the students’ scores and set the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 to Red, Orange, Light Orange, Yellow, and Green respectively. See below.


View a sample conditionally formatted rubric.

The Result?

At just a quick “horizontal” glance, it is easy to see among the field of green (which means 4 or full credit) that students struggled with the design requirement more than any other.  Reteaching should focus in this area.

A quick “vertical” glance reveals a lot of red and orange for student 15. Additional support, and possible intervention, should be provided to this student.

Give this a try, and comment below to let me know how this worked for you.