Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How the Smartboard Has Changed My Teaching

This has been one of the busiest years in my career. It's odd that this is the case considering it's my eighth year--shouldn't things be getting easier! Teaching three subjects is enough to keep anyone busy with all the planning and grading. The grading is bad, but it's the planning that has overwhelmed me this year and the blame for that goes right to my new Smartboard! This technology has pervaded my teaching. Almost every lesson I teach now includes the Smartboard in some way. As a result, I've had to create many lessons anew and the time and effort to do this is wearing on me.

Something else that has resulted though is that the Smartboard has changed my teaching. Here's how:
  • The projector provides me with a visual anytime I want. As a result, I teach few concepts without having visual support. But because the visuals are always on the Smartboard, it has become the focus of attention and I often find that I am as well. So in a way, I think my teaching has become a little more traditional but...
  • There is a great deal more interactivity when I am the focus. That's the purpose of the Smartboard--it gets kids out of their seats to manipulate the objects on the screen. One of the reasons I've become more traditional is that I make every effort to take advantage of this interactivity. My kids are always out of their seats manipulating objects on the screen. As a result, my lessons have forced kids to be able to categorize, analyze, etc. which means...
  • There is a greater effort to make kids think critically. Today my math students were given three triangles. They had to look at the triangles, identify their properties, and then slide them under the correct heading (e.g. all sides congruent, one obtuse angle, no sides congruent). After they had them under the correct headings, they then had to classify the triangle. We repeated this exercise with quadrilaterals.
I love my Smartboard. It is an amazing tool that has made my teaching better. My lessons are more engaging and there is rarely a time when my kids can't visualize what I'm teaching. How wonderful will it be next year to have a year experience under my belt with this technology!

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Mike Frerichs said...
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Mike Frerichs said...

Good comments James. I'm in the second year of using my Smartboard and have much the same experience. I'd add just two comments: (1) Keep an eye on the projector bulb. The replacement cost for those runs around $200, therefore few school districts maintain a replacement inventory of them. The projected life-span on a bulb is fairly good (around two years of daily use by my calculation) but that will vary.
(2) Keep the board protected from any sharp item. I've seen two boards knocked out of commission. One was hit with the corner of a table that was being moved. When that happened, the mouse locked onto the part of the screen where it sensed pressure. Smartboard does not provide warranties for that.

Anonymous said...

Though in our Ed classes we keep discussing how “technology” could be a blackboard, an overhead, a stick in the dirt, or a Smartboard --- and that these all can be used in a variety of ways and levels of effectiveness --- I do think that we’ve finally “arrived” as far as what’s technically possible in front of a classroom. When the element is a computer screen big enough for everyone, the possibilities are totally endless because the content (particularly the Internet, but whatever other software is utilized) is endless. As better Ed and communication tools are developed, and more laptops or PDA’s are available for each student, there will be more and more instant, immersive, and synchronous learning (depending upon a number of factors of course). Simply browsing through related web sites and discussing what’s on them can produce significant learning, especially if the sites are researched beforehand.

The worry about still being “traditional”, that is, lecturer or whatever one thinks about this term, is not a big deal: as we all know, having tools and content is helpful, but not a necessary requirement for good “teaching” and / or learning. What matters is how we are stimulated to think about ideas, and to find out what we all think about these ideas (and this includes virtual relationships, for example with online experts). It’s helpful to have a well-prepared, experienced teacher or facilitator guiding this, but that’s also not strictly necessary --- with the right motivation and creativity, any group of people can and do engage in learning and exploratory activities all the time. Social networking is an interesting and highly varied example of this kind of “learning” that millions do constantly.

As computer literacy keeps getting better, as well as “mean” more in the sense that we are becoming increasingly sophisticated in our computer interactions, the face of software and information keeps evolving as well, in many interesting ways. So as better and better interactions happen both with existing software as well as the creation of new applications, that “endless” in my first paragraph becomes even more so. A wired classroom, combined with effective uses of it (which vary considerably!) is the learning lab of the future, here now. It’s fascinating to see it evolve, and products like the Smartboard really help with this.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Tubbs:

Great post! I've recently started to include an Interactive White Board in my teaching, and I think it is a fascinating tool.

Do you know where I can find resources that include IWB's?

Greetings from Córdoba, Veracruz, México.

Michael Pearce said...

Have you tired the calendar feature on Add the web link or resource to the site then add it to the calendar. It great, as your teaching during the day and working on the smartboard I have all links set to play off "my workspace" page on It keeps my day in order and I get the most out of my Smartboard.

Mr. J said...

So this is what I have to look forward to?

A Smart Board was wheeled into my room last week. It's time-consuming and altogether engaging with far fewer off-task wandering eyes. I suppose it gets easier day by day, but I sure wish sometimes something more "traditional" like plain old books were in front of my students' eyes.