Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More Smart Board Ideas

Smart Boards have lots of potential uses in the classroom. This post will share more ideas for using your Smart Board on the web. The first post in this series provides more general tips and tricks for using Smart Boards, while the second explores my favorite ways to use Smart Notebook in my classroom.

More Smart Board Ideas

Media Center

Having a Smart Board eliminates the need for a separate TV or DVD player in your classroom, as long as the computer you use has a DVD player. I recommend getting a separate set of speakers to help with the sound. A Smart Board can easily share DVDs as well as You Tube or other online videos, provided you have a fast enough Internet connect to stream videos.


Last year was the first time using our Smart Board for Skype, and it was a great success! We had a Skype author visit from the ever-engaging Tara Lazar, who read aloud her book The Monstore, while I flipped pages in our class copy. We also did a Mystery Skype with another class, where we switched off asking yes/no questions to try and determine their location. (Pro tip, remind your students not to wear identifiable t-shirts that day, local sports teams, etc. Kids are ruthless observers!)

Skype-ing with a Smart Board works best if you can easily position your computer and webcam near the Smart Board itself. For our Tara Lazar talk, the laptop was a little off to the side (on a folding kitchen step stool), which meant she usually saw the side of kids' heads. When we did our Mystery Skype, it was in our computer lab, which is a longer room, so we put the computer on a cart in front of the board.

Giant Read Alouds

You can use the Kindle app on any computer, tablet, or phone to share books with students on the Smart Board. This is great for stories with really detailed illustrations or other text features that you want everyone to easily to able to see. Back in the day, I scanned the entirety of Love that Dog for reading aloud, because I wanted my students to see and appreciate the line breaks. (Read more about Teaching Poetry with Love that Dog.)

PowerPoint, Google Slides, Haiku Deck, Prezi, etc.

The Smart Board is an excellent way to present information. Since you are not limited to only using Smart Notebook, you can use any type of presentation software or web site to share information. When I bring in parents to share about other countries, PowerPoint is often their software of choice for sharing photographs and facts.

Padlet for Real-Time Collaboration

This is one I have not tackled yet, but I know of many teachers who use Padlet for collaboration within the classroom. For schools where students have access to their own tablets or laptops, you could conceivably have the whole class logged into a single Padlet page, sharing thoughts and ideas in real time. (I will admit that when I picture this with third graders, I picture mass chaos!)

Student Screen Sharing

There are also devices available that let students share their own tablet or laptop screens directly with the Smart Board. The Chromecast from Google plugs into the projector itself and allows anyone with a Chromebook or Chromecast app to send their screen to the projector. I observed a middle school teacher who had his students use the Chromecast to each share a presentation with the class.

Document Camera

Document cameras are another great piece of technology to integrate with a Smart Board. A document camera allows you to easy share print media up on the board. You place the book, for example, underneath the camera, which then sends a live image of it onto the screen. This would also work well with items like math manipulatives.


The Smart Board can also be used like a giant projection screen TV. Once a year as part of our school fundraiser, my classroom becomes the game room, and either a Wii or XBox gets plugged into the projector for giant-sized gaming fun. For last year's "Teach a Teacher Tuesday," several of my third graders used the web-based version of Minecraft to teach me all about the game on the big screen.

The Web

Finally, of course, you can do anything on your Smart Board that you can do on your regular computer. You can also use the pens and "ink" to mark up a digital page for reference. I appreciate the ability to model reading or using a web site in front of students.

How Do You Use Your Smart Board?

What other great ideas do you have for using a Smart Board in the classroom? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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