Using a SmartBoard in the Primary Grades

Smartboard1

I am really excited about having this.  Although they really didn’t think it all through very well.  I’m not sure where the money came from for these, but they bought about a dozen or so of them for our school.  They didn’t buy them to install on the wall, so they came on legs, no laptops to go with them, and  the project wasn’t a good fit for my room.  It would probably work in a smaller room, but in order to have the projection fit on the SmartBoard, I would have to cut the distance between the screen and to projector in half and that would put my projector right in the middle of my 30 kids.  My personal projector works at this distance just fine.  I had to get an extra 15 feet of USB cable to make it reach from the SmartBoard to the laptop.  I ran the wires along the top of the bulletin board and the white board on the wall to the side there.

Smartboard2

I needed to find a way to  really have the projector rock solid stable.  Getting jiggled just a little can unsync the projector from the board.  So I moved these two filing cabinets out into the room and put a table between the cabinets and the wall.  That way the wires can come out to the projector and laptop from the wall without being in a traffic area.

smartboard-3

With my sound system (and Ipod dock) attached to the laptop, and the laptop connected to the internet on the wall to the left, I can play DVDs, access the internet, and do other Smartboard activities all from one setup.  Today was our first day (it took a couple of hours on Labor Day to get everything set up).  We were doing the letter Mm in our Trophies Reading Series, so I used the FrogStreet Press DVD to introduce the letter Mm.  The DVD also demonstrates how to write the letters too.  I then pulled up a print program that I use to print practice writing for them that can be printed out.  We then practiced writing the letters right on the SmartBoard.  We also did the same thing in the afternoon with the numbers 4 and 5.  I’m the only kindergarten teacher that they gave a SmartBoard to, and I think I got it because I used to be a Tech Specialist and they figured I’d actually use it.  I am really excited about the possibilities.  There’s still a couple of glitches to iron out.  For example, I can access the teacher resources on the Smart website from home on my laptop, but the school firewall seems to block access when connected at school.  Something to have my resident tech work on I guess, I no longer have those “rights” now that I’m a classroom teacher.

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9 thoughts on “Using a SmartBoard in the Primary Grades

  1. I LOVED my interactive whiteboard (Activ/Promethean) and I will never teach without one again! Is there any way you can run your wires underneath the carpet? That’s what we do in my district so nobody trips over them, it works very well. Here’s a link to my page about how I used IWB technology in my classroom:
    http://www.pre-kpages.com/activboard.html
    Congrats!
    vanna

    • I haven’t been able to do too much with it yet, but it has already significantly changed the way I teach and present material. I my reading program, there are these poster size poems that go with each letter as you introduce the letter. They were too big to scan, but I basically just copied the text into Word, and added some related graphics and when projected onto the SmartBoard, the kids can write directly onto the board. Today they circled all of the letter Ms in the poem. They are much more engaged than they were without the board. As part of the setup, I also got rid of the TV and can project DVD’s directly onto the Smartboard as well. Some of them that have letters, letter sounds and how to write the letters, I can freeze the DVD, and have them write directly onto the screen shot as well. I can’t wait to try some other ideas I’ve had as well.

    • I KNOW I’m only scratching the surface of the possibilites. But it’s so awsome! I print any papers I need to run off for the kids directly from my computer to a laser printer, that way I don’t have to fight over the broken copy machines down the hall. So since I already have the pages on the laptop, I can just pull them up and write directly onto the pages to show the kids what to do. I can have them come up and write on it. They relate to the job on the pages much better when we go over them this way first. And I’m just getting into the preloaded stuff that I can use with it. My state standards are already in the software, I can pull up a state standard and it will have suggested or available activities for each standard.
      And there is sound, and color and movement. It’s just like a touch screen (actually it IS a touch screen), only chalk board size.
      Did I mention I really, really like it?

    • Mary, I feel the same way!!! People keep telling me, “Institutrice, you would LOVE having a SmartBoard in your room!” and I keep saying, “NO I would not!” I’m not sure how I got a reputation as a techie (just because I make a lot of my own documents and use the school email and website?), but I look at that and say, “Too much work!” Don’t you have to get everything on the computer? Just the thought of it stresses me out. 😉

      We got overhead projectors this year and I AM excited about that. Our technology teacher says you can do 90% of what a SmartBoard does with a projector and a whiteboard. That’s good enough for me! I don’t need the pressure of the Smart Board. 😉

      Your letter poem lessons sound awesome though! Made me nostalgic for second grade. (Do you have the books Phonics Through Poetry?)

      • I mostly agree with both of you, but hey, as a former school tech (nine years) I tend to get sucked up into all of the possibilities. At the last national kindergarten conference, most of the concensus seemed to be that if you had a choice between an Interactive white board and a document camera (Elmo) that the document camera would be the most versatile. It would also probably be the least likely to cause “tech” issues as well. So I want one of those too. 🙂
        As I’ve looked at a lot of the lesson plans and stuff that people have made for the smartboard, I can see that some of it isn’t very good. But I’m STILL excited, so quit raining on my parade. 🙂

  2. Okay. I’ve seen one, used one, taken a class on using one. Here is my first observation: most of your joy is about what YOU can do with it. I’ve found that techies love it. However, like most computers and anything else that plugs into the wall, things go wrong, OFTEN and HORRIBLY wrong. In fact I have NEVER been to a workshop with Power Point or a smart board or any other type of gadget that did not have a “glitch” of some sort. I even went to a workshop recently that was presented by a state representative and she had to take a ten-minute break for “technical difficulties”. I CAN’T do that in my classroom in the middle of a lesson.

    Second, how many students can actually work at the board, and what are the others doing?

    My biggest objection however, is that this is just one step away from watching television, which by the way I also refuse to have in my room. If I get a gift from the computer wizard I want four computers in my room to rotate with individual students.

    • I know, all of what you say is correct, but in other ways we can’t ignore the technological side of the world these kids are growing up in. I almost can’t comprehend it. Some of the technology that we have come to rely on would have been unthinkable, even 15 years ago. They are growing up and not giving it a second thought, it’s part of the way they see the world. For some of them, it’s almost second nature. We can’t be the old dinosuars trying to hold back change. So yes it has issues, it has problems sometimes, but I think it’s here to stay and for good or bad it’s part of their world. We should try to use it for good.
      And even if only one or two of them can use it at one time, the rest of them watching, are more interested then they are when it’s just me doing it. It will make a good center activity. If I ever get to centers…….

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