Tuesday, September 1, 2015

My Favorite Uses of Smart Notebook

Smart Notebook is the software program that comes along with the SmartBoard-brand boards used at my school. This post highlights several of my favorite ways to use Smart Notebook in my classroom. The first post in this series provides more general tips and tricks for using Smart Boards.

My Favorite Uses of Smart Notebook

Your Job Today

The Smart Board serves as the hub for my classroom. When students come in in the morning, it often has our first activity up or prompts students to get their reading folders and prepare to share a read aloud. At the end of our time together on the rug, I often use the Smart Board to display "Your Job Today," a concise listing of expectations for independent work.

Sharing Digital Texts

I use Smart Notebook for nearly every writing lesson that I do with students. (We use Lucy Calkin's amazing Units of Study for Teaching Writing as our basis.) Smart Notebook provides an easy way to create charts, read and study texts together, and get students launched into independent writing time.

Annotating or Editing Digital Texts

Throughout our poetry unit, in particular, I love to have students reading and discussing poems. Smart Notebook provides a way to easily add annotation, notes, underlines, highlights, and more to poems as we work on them together as a class. This is also a great way to model editing skills or to have students complete editing activities as a class or small group.

Writing Shared Texts

Modeling writing in front of students is powerful. Writing on the Smart Board in front of students allows them to see the creative process at work. You can also create shared writing pieces with different members of the class contributing to a scene or story. It is much easier to share and refer back to these pieces of writing digitally than with handwritten chart paper.

Matching our details to our feelings

Revising Shared Texts

Revision is another critically-important literacy tool and one that can be enhanced by Smart Notebook. I have set up texts that can be separated and pulled apart to encourage students to add on or flesh out a story or other piece of writing. Ideas and topics can be visually rearranged to work on organization or outlining. (Below, these ideas could be rearranged to make a compelling paragraph.)

Modeling Skills

The Smart Board is also really useful for modeling a skill for students. In our geography lessons, I will often post a copy of an assignment or section of it so that we can do a few examples together. With something like latitude and longitude, it is great to have the flexibility to do as many together as well need.

Random Name Generator

I use this only occasionally, but the kids get a big kick out of it. Smart Notebook has a random name generator that you can use to call on students. You can either leave it completely random or have it only choose students once ("no repeat").

You can also use this to select randomly from a set of questions for students to answer. I use this as a getting to you know activity at the beginning of the year. Kids can choose a question from the list, or they can use the random generator to pick a question for them to answer. (Students used the large white square to practice writing their name on the board.)

Hide and Reveal Activities

You can also use the click-to-dissolve option within Smart Notebook to create hide and reveal activities. Our fourth graders always wrap up the year with the big 50 states and capitals test. Using a map of the US, I drew a series of boxes to cover up the names of each state and its capital. To review, students were encouraged to guess the name of the state/capital out loud before clicking to check their guess.

Small Group Review Activities

The Smart Board can also be used by smaller groups. When we are studying continents at the beginning of the year, kids go up in table groups to play a series of review games on the Smart Board. These particular games are very simple (matching, mapping, multiple choice), so the kids can usually run them by themselves. Just make sure that you have something engaging for the rest of the class to be working on while they are waiting their turns!

What are your favorite types of activities to do with students using Smart Notebook? (Next up is a post about Smart Board possibilities outside of just the Smart Notebook software.)

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