Tidbits in Tech: Integration in Education/Smart Boards in the Elementary School
Technology is continually changing and continually becoming more accessible to teachers every year. Integrating technology in the classroom is becoming the norm in today’s schools. Teachers need to be able to use technology to increase their professional development and to keep up with their tech savvy students. Today SMART Boards are seen in more and more of America’s classrooms and can also be found in classrooms around the world. A SMART Board is an interactive learning tool used in both classrooms and corporate environments to engage students and participants in activities and lessons. The purpose of SMART Board technology is to promote interaction in a classroom environment. Each student is actively and physically engaged. SMART Boards get students up out of their seats to critically think and manipulate objects on the screen.
“SMART Board Interactive Whiteboards are a fun and engaging way for students to interact with technology in the classroom. The interactive whiteboards are becoming the classroom technology of tomorrow. They can serve many purposes during everyday instruction as opposed to using a chalkboard or whiteboard.” (Herman, S.) SMART boards save teachers time by allowing them to access pre-planned lessons on the computer. There are no dry erase markers or chalk necessary and your hand can serve as an eraser and erase any mistakes students may make. There are numerous websites that provide teachers with SMART board ready lesson plans. SMART boards can allow students to work in groups or individually at their desk as the teacher instructs with the board. Many interactive games can be found on the internet to engage students in their learning, in a fun interactive way that appeals to students. To make the SMART board less of a distraction in your classroom, try and let students play and use the board frequently. This will make students more comfortable and keep their attention better because they aren’t concerned with the process of the SMART board and are more concentrated on the problem being solved by another peer or the teacher.
The first SMART Board was introduced by Smart Technologies in 1991. Since then SMART Boards have been filtering into America’s classrooms and have become an excellent teaching tool. The term "SmartBoard" is actually a trademarked brand name of device generically referred to as an Interactive White Board (IWB). In the US, the term SmartBoard has become the common name used to refer to IWB’s even though there are many different companies that currently manufacture and distribute similar IWB technologies. Other manufactures makes different types of interactive whiteboards that are very similar to a SmartBoard. Some of the most common interactive whiteboards used at this time are the Mimio, ActivBoard, eBeam, Promethean, Webster, and Wiimote.
Advantages and Disadvantages
SMART boards are a great way of engaging your students in their learning. Smart boards can help a good teacher become an even better and more productive teacher.Smart boards can increase student interest and motivation, reinforce learning, offer self-paced practice, and create a low-threat, high-interest learning environment. SMART boards are an exciting way for students to interact using technology to learn necessary educational concepts. For young elementary students the SMART board is a great way to practice writing numbers, letters, and their names. A really interesting aspect of SMART boards is they can save student’s work. Since the SMART board is hooked up to the computer, all of the work created on the SMART board can be saved onto a computer. This not only saves paper but is also cost effective and will eventually save schools money on printing paper. SMART boards are great for instructing an entire classroom because they allow teachers to integrate technology with their regular lessons. All of the students can be engaged through lessons on the SMART board as well as experience using the technology themselves. Lastly, SMART boards are great for time management in the classroom. Since SMART boards are setup with computers, teachers can use lessons plans already on the internet as well as ones they have created on the computer. They are able to pull up the lesson plans whenever they are ready to use the SMART board. Students are able to write entire sentences or phrases with the SMART board or the computer. Using the SMART board can be effective because it corrects grammar and spelling to help the children correct their mistakes immediately. There are countless ways of using a SMART board in a classroom. Here is a great website that gives you “21 Ways to Integrate the SMART Board in the Elementary Classroom” and shows how to properly use each idea. This website provides great ways to use SMART boards including KWL charts to showing a PowerPoint and adding additional notes right onto the presentation.
21 Ways to Integrate a SMART board in an Elementary Classroom
SMART boards are a great tool to use in the classroom but they are also a couple disadvantages to consider. SMART boards are very expensive so accessibility may be limited throughout your school/school district. The costs of the boards are more effective if your school is already provided with projectors, MACs, and PCs. Grants are sometimes available to cover some of the expenses. SMART boards can also pose as distractions for some students since they are relatively new technology. Students who are unfamiliar with an interactive whiteboard maybe more focused on playing with the SMART board than using it for educational purposes. There are also sources that critize the Smart board and say there is hardly any research that clearly shows that any type of interactive whiteboard will improve student academic achievement. Teachers have found that with regular use of the SMART board and preparing your students for how to use them properly; distractions can be minimalized. Another setback to using SMART boards would be the large amount of space that they take. A problem that teachers run into most frequently would be the issue of the projector and it being bumped. Unless the projector is mounted from the ceiling, teachers have to be very careful of where they place the SMART board and its expensive projector unit. By attaching the SMART board to the wall, it minimizes the probability of accidents and students bumping into it. There is the problem of technology glitches among the SMART boards are well because if they are bumped, it takes time to reset the sensors within the SMART board. Also if the SMART board is broken or a part is misplaced then you have to replace it. Lastly, there is training that is required for the SMART board even though they aren’t difficult to use. Students must be shown how to operate the SMART board as well as the teachers need to be aware of how to use technology efficiently and effectively during class time. We also have to realize that technology is a tool to improve student learning; but technology cannot replace the teacher. Technology is not a replacement for a quality teacher-student relationship. Technology cannot make a bad teacher into a good teacher. We also need to be careful not to get caught up in the “one size fits all approach” or in trying to squeeze a round peg into a square hole and force teachers to adapt their instruction to the technology instead of the technology serving the teacher. Technology, like the Smart Board, shouldn’t change the way a teacher teaches. Technology should complement the way a teacher already teaches and make the teacher better and more productive; not be forced into a lesson where it really doesn’t fit.
SMART boards can be used in every subject area. Here is a great video to show the diversity that a SMART board can bring to a classroom: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCfmJCSAG70&feature=related
- Language Arts
- There are numerous ways to use the SMART board in the area of Language Arts in all grade levels. Teachers can use smart boards for phonics work, sight words, vocabulary, writing, grammar, interactive reading, and reading comprehension. There are a ton of online resources and software that teachers can download and use in their language arts classroom. An excellent website for teachers to download lessons is called Smart Exchange. Teachers post SMART Board lessons they have created onto this website and it's free for any teacher to download and change the lesson to make it their own that fits their students needs. You can find the website by clicking on the following link. http://exchange.smarttech.com/index.html#tab=0.
- Many teachers have had many positive experiences using SMART boards in their Language Arts classrooms. The SMART board helped get kids excited about reading and writing, which can be very challenging. When a 4th grade teacher from South Dakota received a Smart Board in her classroom; she decided to start using it in her Language Arts block first to get her students comfortable using the board. She said she began with writing because it was a skill that many students needed to develop and often aren't enthusiastic about, especially the editing component and she discovered that students did not put a great deal of effort into this aspect of writing. The SmartBoard allowed her to spark her students interests. The board added new motivation and engagement in writing for her 4th grade students. She started using the SMART Board for editing. Using the “notebook” section of its tools, students worked together editing incorrect sentences and paragraphs. Using the electronic pens and keyboard, students began to eagerly share their editing processes. These same students also were completing seat work in an efficient manner so they could participate more.
- Teacher Mary Ann Bell also comments about her experiences using a SmartBoard. Mary Ann became interested in the boards for use in junior high class and library instruction. She was so interested it turned into the degree that her doctoral research involved interactive use of the board in 8th grade writing class. The study showed statistically significant improvement in student attitudes towards both using computers in instruction and towards writing instruction. The following YouTube link is an example of how a teacher uses a Smartboard to work on word families. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFrCrFoWnio
- Math is an excellent subject that can be integrated with technology through the use of SMART boards. SMART boards can help with the simplest kindergarten math lesson by learning how to add and subtract with the board. Students are interacting as the class follows allow with the teacher directing the board. If a teacher wanted the students to all do every problem, it is suggested to use notebook paper to follow along. If teachers want the students to be engaged and learn how to properly use a SMART board, then it is suggested to take turns, but still have students do they problem on their own on a separate piece of paper. Here is an excellent website that provides countless free downloads of interactive math lessons/games that a teacher could incorporate into their lesson: Fun Ways to Incorporate a SMART Board in Math
- SMART boards in elementary Science classes can create fun and exciting lessons for both the teacher and students. There are a variety of software and online resources to incorporate into any unit that you are teaching in the classroom. The tools, pictures, and multimedia resources provide interactive activities for the whole class to participate in. The SMART board notebook software that is included when purchased offers many usable Science tools. There are also online educator resources that can help you when teaching experiments, demonstrations, and lessons.
- An elementary teacher posted an article call Smart Ways to Use the SMART board in Science Lessons and the following activities she shared. These are a few ways to use the SMART board writing tools. The first is using the colored pens that come in red, blue, green, and black. Each day as a class you can list one way to conserve energy daily. The students can draw or insert a clip art of an energy saving light bulb for every new idea. A second way is to create graphs by recording the daily temperature and how many recyclables are found in the recycle bin each day. They could fill in the chart using the pens, fill color, or images. The last way is to have Science terms and definitions typed into the whiteboard. There are many different ways to assess or get each child actively involved. You could do this by line matching or making into true and false answer.
- She also provided a few ways on using the pictures and backgrounds in Science classes. The first is to insert a picture of an invention and have the students match the scientist who invented it or set up diagrams of a cell or plant students could drag or make their own labels. A second way is with sorting and categorizing. Using shapes and moveable pictures each student can take a turn by matching each appropriate item to the right category easily does this. Some examples of science properties include: predators and pray, rocks and minerals, and solutions and mixtures.
- Check out these websites for great resources to use in an Elementary Science class.
- Social Studies
- SMART boards can be utilized as an engaging tool in an elementary Social Studies classroom. They encourage student’s involvement and spark their interest. Sometimes it can be hard to present certain topics in a stimulating and enjoyable way but SMART boards can help change that. Activities through Smart boards can be designed to have students get involved in the lesson. Social Studies curriculum go over a lot of concepts that need to be covered and using the interactive whiteboard can add to the overall success of the material being taught.
- Amanda Wehner, an eHow contributor shares in her article Social Studies Activities For Third Graders shares an idea to incorporate into an elementary Social Studies class. The topic that she talks about is Communities Around the World. She says that SMART boards can provide interactive methods to teach children about languages, celebrations, landscapes, and games from different areas around the world. You can use the SMART board to show pictures and videos on a variety of cultural communities and landscapes. You can create a lesson on a specific country and take about the similarities and differences compared to another area. As a group students can work together to create a short presentation using the SMART board to discuss their findings and ideas.
- Check out these great resources to use in an elementary Social Studies Class.
The new and “hot” technology that we hear about in today’s classrooms is the SMART Board. Many schools, teachers, and students are excited to be able to utilize and take part in the latest trend. Not only have SMART boards made a huge impact in educating students but has changed the learning environment within the classroom. Teachers are presenting and teaching material in original and different interactive ways and students are engaged in the new learning tool. Teachers have commented that they love using Smart Boards in their classrooms and they have become a huge part in their teaching everyday. Some also said they could teach without a Smartboard, but they definitely would prefer to teach with it. Teacher, Julie Lennon, from the Neenah School District commented that if you took away her smart board it would be like taking away her right arm. Technology is a huge part of our society today and the SMART Board is also becoming part of it. The SMART Board is paving the way into classrooms today and will continue to do so in the future.
SMART Boards have opened the doors to countless possibilities in the classroom. Many schools are just starting to use them for the first time. We can only imagine what advancements they will continue to have in the near future. SMART Boards are becoming the classroom technology of tomorrow. It is the goal that someday the boards will be able to take the place textbooks. While textbooks have to be replaced, SMART Boards can be used repeatedly with updated information. Technology uses in our schools are becoming parts of who we are in today’s society. “Technologies have been coming in and out of our culture, and today one of the most ground-breaking advancement is the SMART board. The interactive whiteboard has changed education for each and every learner that it has touched” (Knode, 2006).
Exposing today’s students to SMART boards will help them become versatile learners. It will also prepare them for all of the exposure to technology they will receive in their life. “Education in each individual’s life is crucial to the future” (Knode, 2006). As they continue to learn and grow through each year in school and then as they enter the workforce the SMART board will allow them to be well-rounded technology users. The majority of jobs and careers usually require some sort of minimal technology experience. “As technology in most every industry is changing, so is it in education. Schools introduce pupils to the technology they’ll meet in the work force” (Jokinen, 2010).
“SMART boards are becoming the classroom technology of tomorrow” (Knode 2006). Teachers and students around the world have positive things to say about them. SMART boards can be updated with current information so that they do not become outdated. The interactive boards are currently being used in all different economic status areas and underdeveloped countries. There are a variety of funding and programs to help schools get SMART boards for their schools. The benefits of the boards are endless and educators are praising the use of them in their classrooms. They also functional with the wide range of things you can use it for some include: presentations, conferencing, learning demonstrations, and activities that include multimedia clips and games. One major benefit is helping students stay involved who have special needs. Everyone can be part of this new technology.
It is important to have students starting at a young age work with technology throughout their classes. Since it is becoming a huge impact on everyone’s life today it will only continue into the future. SMART boards will carry on and be part of the classroom. A group of teachers make a strong conclusion on the influence of interactive boards in education, “Education opens doors for the future. By educating youth, by training teachers, by helping disadvantaged students, just by bringing in a new technology, our world can be shaped and molded into a better place for the future. Smart boards have shown that by putting time and effort into changing some student’s way of learning, they can revolutionize the way that they learn and grow. Interactive whiteboards are a key concept to the fresh new classroom of the future and they are only beginning” (Knode 2006).
SMART boards are a great educational tool to use in their classroom not only because it engages students in their learning, but we as teachers are connecting to a younger generation through technology which is something they have been familiar with since birth. SMART boards may be a couple decades old, but teachers are now realizing the positive effects it brings to their students education and learning capabilities. By using the internet and saving lesson plans and students work on a computer, this brings a new era to teaching along with a SMART board but in a positive way by making resources more accessible. SMART boards are starting to become frequently seen in many classrooms around the world. It will be interesting to see in a few years how they are being used through out the classroom environment. Hopefully this short chapter gives you an insight of how to incorporate SMART boards with regular subject areas throughout elementary school. We will leave you with a quote from a teacher and SmartBoard user. "The SMART Board interactive whiteboard is revolutionary because of its interactivity, flexibility and ease of use. I’ve seen a significant increase in teacher productivity and student performance across all grade levels with the implementation of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard within the K-12 learning environment. This technology tool is one of the most reliable ways for schools to change the way students interact and learn with the least amount of capital investment. Teachers will appreciate the selection of user templates and other great features that can only enhance their existing instructional methodologies. This is the technology tool for teachers and classes of the 21st century. "http://tiger.towson.edu/users/sunger2/smart_boards_in_the_classroom.htm
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