Saturday, January 28, 2012

Using SmartNotebook Software

If you have a SMART Board in your school, you should be able to download the SMART Notebook software to all your school computers. This software offers some really neat opportunities for students to create a variety of products. It is a very versatile tool for integrating technology in the classroom. Our middle school students routinely use the software to create review games in Science and Spanish classes. With the linking feature, it is possible to make Jeopardy games and board games.

As I mentioned in a prior post, our first graders created their own Gingerbread Man stories with it. In another post, I discussed how they created new endings to a comic book. This year, they will take that a step further to create comic strips. When the SMART Notebook file is printed out horizontally in handout form it looks just like a comic strip. 

Since the SMART Notebook file can be exported as a JPEGs, students can use the tool bar to help explain math problems, language arts concepts and science theories, export the page and post them to their blog. Here is a great math challenge file for first graders. We talked about all the different tools that students can use in this software to help them solve the problems, then gave each student their own copy of the file to work on independently.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Making Trading Cards in Power Point

Finding new uses for everyday technology is really exciting to me. One day I thought of using Power Point to create trading cards. Each student would create on slide in Power Point about a concept they were learning in class. This concept could be anything from a math problem to their science curriculum. As long as each student in the class creates a slide with different information, any curricular content area will work. The student duplicates the slide until there are six slides which are then printed in handout form.
Finally each student cuts up their slides and starts trading. The object is to come away with six different slides that can be used to reinforce learning in that area. I am currently working with our third grade teachers to create trading cards about the inventions in America around the turn of the century. The twist is that their six cards will represent the six layers of Bloom's Taxonomy. Students will still cut them up and trade them, but they will now be exposed to a wide variety of thoughts surrounding theses inventions.  Here is our outline.

Teaching Cardinal Directions Using Power Point

Usually, when I work with teachers and mention Power Point, they immediately think of creating a presentation slide show about something. They think final product, instead of thinking tool. So I was really happy to help my second grade teachers use Power Point as a tool to help teach cardinal directions. The students were charged with writing steps to decorate a Christmas tree. The twist was that they had to give directional instructions, such as place the bell southeast of the red ornament. Of course we threw in the fun aspects of Power Point (animations and backgrounds) which is always engaging for students. 

I sent them the first two pages, and they duplicated the second slide each time they added a decoration. Another variation on this activity that is not holiday related is to give directions describing where things are on the playground.  Both files can be downloaded here.

Worksheet Alternative to Teaching Character Traits

One of our third grade classes was working on Character Traits. Each student was given a few traits and were to find the definition. To reinforce learning, and learn the tech skill of saving pictures from the internet, the students had to locate pictures that helped describe their trait. Using the safe image websites of and, the students proceeded to find and save pictures, and then insert them in a Word document with explanatory sentences.

They soon found out that not all traits are easily described by a picture, and it took some imaginative thinking to find a picture to match. This activity really supported some higher level thinking that helped build mastery learning, more so than a worksheet would have.

Gingerbread Man - Fractured Fairy Tale

For two years now, I have worked with our first grade students to create a fractured fairy tale of the Gingerbread Man story. After reading a few versions of the Gingerbread Man, the students pick one of the three gingerbread men I send them and decorate him/her with clothes in Kidspiration. Then they find three characters to chase him again using the clip art in Kidspiration. Finally, the use SmartNotebook to create their story. 

With a title page, narrative text, unique characters and hand drawn scenery, the students create a wonderful masterpiece! This project offers so much creativity, freedom of choice and personalization that they thoroughly enjoy it and are excited to work on it every day.