SMART Board - Interactive Teaching & Learning

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SMART Teaching & Learning

This article is meant for those that are familiar with the basics of using a SMART interactive whiteboard. Interactive whiteboards are a great way to engage and motivate students to learn. If you are looking to learn more about how to setup and use a Board refer to the SMART Board article. Teachers can access a growing library of SMART Board lesson activity ideas at the SMART Technologies website.

Elementary Lesson Ideas

SMART Technologies Elementary Resources

Instructional Uses

The examples below should represent uses of interactive whiteboards (commonly referred to as SMART Boards) that are for the most part teacher-centered.

Classroom Agenda
This idea is strictly for instructional purposes and creates a way for teachers to easily transition from one content area to another. Students know what to expect at what time minimizing distraction time. Create a slide using SMART Notebook and create a daily agenda as below:
  • Attendance/Lunch - 9:05
  • Math - 9:10
  • Specials - Physical Ed. - 10:20
  • English Language Arts - 11:10
  • Lunch - 12:20
  • Social Studies - 1:00
  • Recess - 2:00
  • Science - 2:25
  • Dismissal - 3:20

Each item on the agenda could be hyper-linked to slides that layout the lesson for that day. For instance, clicking on Math after morning attendance/lunch count would open up the Math lesson for the morning. Add a button on the last slide of the lesson that links back to the daily agenda in order to quickly move from one content area to another.

Interactive Uses

These examples should represent the use of an interactive whiteboard with students in interactive lessons.

Daily Attendance & Lunch Count
Day-to-day activities can be made more fun and efficient by holding students responsible for checking in first thing the morning. To do this create a slide with all students names that can be moved around the board. Create columns for the lunch choices offered that day and instruct students to drag their name under their choice.
Vocabulary Definitions
There could be a set of words that either your needed to match the definitions to, or that you have to move to uncover the definitions.
Creating Music
Perhaps having students using something like Finale Notepad or another notation software to create compositions.

Secondary Lesson Ideas

SMART Technologies Secondary Resources

  • Biology and the study of animals might be able to really use a virtual 3-D catalog of different animal skeletons for different comparisons of animals.

Games and Simulations

There are many pre-created games for the Smartboard. When you start to think about creating your own or reusing others games there are some different strategies you will want to think about in their design.

When you are looking at other peoples games or activities you will want to be able to deconstruct these activities so you can not only make them work for you, but also see the strategies related to creating your own. So lets take a look at how some people are doing this.

Deconstructing Others

Some of the concepts that people use when creating are the concepts of color (transparency), layering (grouping and ordering objects), and linking (to pages, web sites, videos, etc). There are a lot of ways to use these three concepts with the objects that the Notebook Software provides.

So lets try to deconstruct one of the activities that are out there.

One game that teachers download a lot is the Wack-a-mole game. This simple games allows you to have students review different questions and editing the question pages is all you have to do to make it work.

One of the nice things is that the teacher that created Wack-a-Mole has shared her thinking as she created the activity. Here is a short video that shares how Wack-a-Mole was created.

So what did you notice? How has she used to concepts of color, layering, and linking? What do you really need to focus on if you were to adjust her game/activity?

Another provider of a lot of the resources that are available out there is the gentleman from Teachers Love Smartboards. One of the games that he created and is a great example of using the resources from the Notebook gallery to help you achieve your goal.

The Phantom Menace Review Game allows for two teams of students to compete against one another for points. Again there is a short video on how the game was created. In what ways do you think that resources are being used?

Strategies to Deconstruct

One way I have learned to deconstruct others work is to actually take it a part piece by piece at times, especially if I have never seen how someone created it. Lets do this with the Phantom Menace. The first page of the activity is pretty self explanatory. It is a few boxes on an orange background with a link to the start page and the instruction page. Notice also if you look at the slide sorter that the pages are named, this helps with linking.

So when I click the start button it links to the main page which now has a lot going on. The first thing I do in anything is think about what I see and how I would have created it. I know that I would have created tables to hold the score in the slide, I would have linked the question point values at the bottom of the page to their values within the Notebook file. One thing the author did that I wouldn't have thought of is to group the Team A questions and Team B questions within the Notebook file. This would make it easier to find the specific pages within the file.

Next I try to click on something to select it, sometimes right clicking if something is linked or locked. For example clicking on any of the numbers shows me they are infinite clones to allow for making points. The one object that really got me is the question selector that he is using. To figure this one out I first clicked on the question area, and noticed it is a flash object. So I tried to move it, but couldn't. So the next idea is to cut or copy it out of the page itself to see what it is specifically.

So by selecting the object and either opening a blank Notebook file or adding a page to the current one I paste the object into the blank space. Now I can see that it is the Random work chooser and see that he has used the color orange as a background and then additional orange blocks to create a points chooser for his game.

So now I have a better idea of how the game works and ways that I might be able to use some of the same pieces to create my own game.

Creating Game Boards

Creating a basic game board can be fairly simple. I often like to layout things without adding color and such until I am almost done. This allows me to think through pieces as opposed to worrying about color or having to constantly readjust items.

So lets take the idea of making a locally based Monopoly game for the city you live in. This could help younger students look at local landmarks or perhaps just be a fun review game for older students about economics or local history.

No matter the game type breaking it down into smaller pieces helps as you construct the game, since you can adjust items and group items as you need. Also single items can have their color changed much easier.

To start with you will want to create a single basic game square that you can build everything else off of. One thing that you may have to do is decide how you want to build this. For example I first tried to do this with the table tool, but didn't like the way it started to work. So I moved to the shape tool, these are decisions that you will need to make as you go. The reason I chose the shape tool was that it would allow me to replicate the shape quickly, group the shapes, and rotate them easily.

For my monopoly piece I created two rectangles that ended up looking like this one thing to thing about with your layout is the length and width. If you have a square game board and want to lay it out I would start with the width first as this is the constant for the notebook software.


Now that I had my shape I set out to create a game board. I simply copied the piece once and then pasted it multiple times, until I have enough pieces to make my first horizontal bar. To make this bar I dragged the objects close together. Then to make small adjustments I selected the object and used my arrow keys. Once I had one horizontal I selected all of the pieces that made it up, and copied this row and moved it to the bottom of my page.

Now I had a two horizontal rows, so it was time to make the vertical. To do this I took my basic shape and rotated it 90 degrees. I then create a single vertical row, then copy and paste that row, and rotate it to fit correctly.

Now that I have created the basic layout of the board I begin to add the text and the colors to the board.

Now we can begin to look at adding additional functions depending on where people land on a space or how you want the game to operate.

Mapping the Slides

Using the Monopoly games as an example I can create certain actions when someone lands on a space for the slide to jump to another page. This allows me to add some additional dynamics to the activity.

So for example if I wanted to be able to jump to a page when a student clicked on the Public Parking space on my game board I can do this by creating a link from that space to another slide in the Notebook file.

So the first thing I want to do is create my Public Parking page in the Notebook file. So I simply add a page into Notebook. At this point I am going to rename the notebook page so that I can link it without worrying about it changing locations.

To change the name of the slide, I can simply double click on the slide and it allows me to edit the slide name, which is by default the date and time the slide was created.


Now that I have the slide named I go back to my Monopoly board and click on the public parking space. I choose from the drop down menu to link, and then choose the page in this file option. At this point I am given a list of pages and I choose the page that I'd like to use, in this case Public Parking.


At this point I choose to make the object linked (I am focusing on the words) so that when the words Public Parking are clicked it jumps to my new slide. Which I can design to meet my needs. One thing you will want to include on the slide that you have linked is a way to get back to the space that you were just at. For example after someone goes to the Public Parking page I want them to jump back to the Monopoly game board slide. So I add the word back to the slide and link this so that it takes me back to the page labeled Monopoly Board, this allows us to move back to the previous slide.

This type of jump to is how Wack-a-Mole and Jeopardy work within the Notebook software.

If you have ever linked pages within Powerpoint you will notice similarities.

Game Mechanics: Dice, Spinners, and Game Pieces

No matter what game you create you need to be able to create the mechanics of the game, meaning the dice and game pieces.

The nice thing within Notebook is that you can use some of the objects that are already part of the gallery. So you can grab the dice or the spinner and add it to you page. These allow you to simply drag and drop your spinner or dice right onto the game board. Things like counters or random number and letter generators are also available.

Game pieces can also be found in the gallery or you can draw them or even find one on the web. The options are endless, it all depends on what you'd like to do.

You can even create your own custom game spinners if you'd like using circles, lines, and the animation feature within Notebook. This allows you to adjust for your own needs.

Using Color

Often times the games that we create don't have a built in self check. This can be frustrating at times. However there is a strategy to do some basic self checking within the Notebook file. The key is to use color.

One example of this is if you wanted to have students practice synonyms or multiplication. You can create a slide that was two colors, for example red and yellow. Do this by creating one background color (yellow) and then adding a second color by creating a red rectangle.

Now you can create the answer or example of one piece of the puzzle in yellow and the corresponding part of the answer or puzzle in red. So you'd have one word or number in red and the other in yellow. Now you simply have group the two pieces of text, say silly and funny, and make it so they can be moved as one by locking and allowing to move.

Now when you move the text from one side to the other you should see the red word appear on the yellow side of the page and the yellow word appear on the red side of the page.

The following picture should give you an idea.


Gallery Games

Another way to look at the creation of games is to use what is already inside of the Gallery. There are a lot of games and activities that you don't even have to create. You only have to figure out how to best use them.

The games that are part of the gallery are programmed for you, meaning that they have built the structure of the game, and only let you add content in a limited fashion. For example with a vortex image sort you can have at the maximum 16 images that you can use and two categories. This may not work for ever kind of activity.

There are a lot of different games within the lesson activity tool kit. Some of the favorites are Pairs which is like memory with up to 16 pairs.

The Vortex and Category sorts are great sorting activities.

Using Other Software

There is other software out there that you can use to create games or simulations. Two examples are

This is a graphical programming environment created for elementary and middle school students. This software allows you to create games and activities related to your own content area. There are also games that students have created which you may find useful in your own class. These can be found on the Scratch site under projects or galleries. Some are as simple as shark calculators, while others can be more complex.
Is a free mathematics software similar to Geometers Sketchpad, that allows you or your students to create representations of mathematical concepts for others to explore. A decent list of resources for getting started can be found here.

Online Simulations and Game Resources

Just in case you are looking for other ideas a few that you might want to look at.

Science Animations

Physics Animations

PBS Kids Resources

Scholastic Resources

Earobics Resources

Oswego Central School District Games

Interactive Games

Lee Summit School Resources

Plant Life Cycle

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