Teachers from Sydney and Newcastle were invited to attend a free TeachSMART event hosted after school. SMART ANZ team members Helen Lacey and Sue Beveridge presented at the events giving teachers an overview of global trends, the research that SMART has undertaken, and the current information published by the OECD about the importance of SEL skills.
All the schools that were involved have SMART Boards, but had not updated their software recently and were looking to replace their existing boards over the next couple of years. Typically, they had SMART Boards which still required projectors and were amazed at the new SMART interactive flat panels and the quality of the diaplay. Their SMART Boards have been in use for a very long time and have been a very robust device when compared to many other technologies the schools had purchased which have stopped working or not given them the same quality of interactions and pedagogical opportunities.
Most of these schools have devoted the last few years to ensuring that all their pupils had personal devices and were updating their classrooms to be learning spaces that enabled 21st-century learning. They were now refocusing on interactive devices and the tools for teaching. They have realized that their teachers need more effective ways to:
- model practice,
- share content across their students’ devices,
- brainstorm ideas
- provide effective feedback
… and most important for students to demonstrate their knowledge and capacity to collaborate.
The teachers were competent users of SMART Notebook, but many were not aware of the added advantages of the full SMART Learning Suite software. They were delighted for instance, by the inclusion of GeoGebra; those who had been using different software gasped with delight at its potential for mathematics teaching. The teachers were also thrilled with the ease of using SMART Learning Suite Online where they could easily share their views and via a “Shout It Out” activity to share how they are currently using their SMART Boards.
The teachers described how they use the board for modelling handwriting, introducing new concepts, and illustrating multimodal texts. The teachers were very interested that now using SMARTink they would be able to edit text on screen, enhancing the quality of the sentences students were writing and effectively implementing co-creation of texts.
Over the years these teachers had been provided with a range of different software options from Apple, Microsoft and Google for teaching and learning. This group of teachers indicated that these products were “still very business oriented providing more or less the same elements of word processing, slides and spreadsheets often in structured formats more suitable for higher education”. What SMART Learning Suite provides they believed was an incredible range of ways to engage students quickly and on the fly. Being able to create a quiz, a Shout It Out, or have students create a game of thier own to demonstrate their learning makes the SMART Learning Suite, according to these teachers, a true pedagogical tool enabling a level of flexibility that engaged students.
The teachers liked the fact that students could make movies and demonstrate their learning and share this easily with the class. While it is possible to do this individually on student devices, for these teachers the fact that the SMART Learning Suite could be used across ALL devices meant that there could be true collaboration and high levels of creativity in thier classrooms.
The schools understood the importance of teaching STEAM, as well as social and emotional skills. They had invested in robotics and digital technologies but were investigating how they could embed these practices across the curriculum and in all classrooms. They saw SMART amp as a fabulous tool for Project Based Learning and were impressed with the SMART document camera which enabled the manipulation of 3D objects.
The schools were keen to have more training in the effective use of the SMART Learning Suite and are looking forward to further professional learning events like these in 2018 and the Inspire Greatness Conference in 2018. Thank you to all who attended!
This post was written by Sue Beveridge, SMART Team Member in Australia.