How to Successfully Integrate SMART Learning Solutions in Your Classroom

Think “Big Picture”

When I think about integrating classroom technology, I look at the concept from a big picture perspective first. I believe technology use in the classroom should be based fully on well thought-out strategies and an underlying understanding of learning goals.

When I describe my big-picture thinking process, I ask myself basic questions like:

  • “What do I want students to learn today?” and
  • “How can I help students connect with essential concepts and ultimately retain key knowledge?”
  • I also consider higher-order thinking questions so that everyone is stretched (never be afraid to pull out your Art Costa’s questioning strategies or Depth of Knowledge cheat sheet, they’re essential!).

Once I’ve given these questions some thought, I think about how I might teach to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles. Here’s where my SMART Board tool rocks!

Pulling Together an Organized Lesson

On any given day in my classroom, you’ll likely see I have a linked agenda on my SMART Board. You might like to try this! Nearly every lesson starts with a review of prior learning. When planning the lesson, most often I jump right to the Lesson Activity Toolkit (LAT) in SMART Notebook software to find an interactive activity to support prior learning. Activities such as category sorts, timeline reveals, and vortex reviews inspire active engagement early on in the lesson, and, as a bonus, the needs of kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners can be met in a short time! The middle-school students I teach love to come up to the SMART Board. I take five minutes max for review but formal and informal research has proven to me that daily exposure to prior learning leads to better outcomes on student assessments (a.k.a. tests or quizzes). Golden nugget: these mini-review lessons take only moments to create in SMART Notebook software, and I use them year after year.

Once we’ve reviewed, it’s time to go over any homework or classwork assignments. In advance, I scan student assignments and answer keys into SMART Notebook (or I retrieve the necessary material from an online textbook or website), and I link directly to it. By having relevant materials linked to my SMART Board agenda, I am able to quickly transition to the next part of my lesson with ease and minimal disruption. I find that a linked agenda saves valuable class time. With effective transitions, you don’t lose the audience. It’s so worth the effort!

Once the review of concepts, homework and/or other loose ends are completed, it’s time to introduce additional learning opportunities. At this point, we might be at the 15-minute point in the day’s lesson. Whether the next activities include a SMART Board or small group collaboration is up for grabs. My rule-of-thumb is to only use a technology tool if it will encourage greater understanding. One fun way to introduce a new concept is to have students collaborate using Shout It Out!, part of the new SMART Learning Suite.

Collaboration, the Shout It Out! Way

Students love to work collaboratively, and with Shout It Out! they can use any electronic device available to share their knowledge about a topic. (Think KWL here.) I ask a question, students log into and input the lesson ID number, and then they share responses. The responses immediately appear on the SMART Board for all to see, and this can be used to generate rich conversation about any topic. Again, creating the question in Shout It Out! takes only a few minutes, and collaboration can be done in 5-10 minutes depending on how much discussion you wish to generate. Love this new tool!

The next, and often last agenda link, is a content link. Whether it’s a YouTube or TeacherTube video clip, a writing prompt, or just about anything else, having it linked within the lesson makes a lesson completely organized. Once we’ve successfully discussed the day’s content either whole-group or in pairs/small groups, time-permitting, I end the day’s events with a quick ticket out activity or verbal review. You can use the SMART Board during any part or all parts of your lesson delivery. I use mine as a great tool for interactive learning and it serves as a fantastic multi-functional technology tool.

Summary of Steps for Using Making the Most of SMART Learning Solutions:

  1. Utilize an interactive review activity from the Lesson Activity Toolkit (LAT)
  2. Designate assignments such as classwork or homework—have links to resources to save time
  3. Consider using a short video clip link to introduce or reinforce something learned
  4. Introduce the day’s content (be sure to have a variety of leveled questions ready to engage all learners)
  5. Use Shout It Out! to motivate learners to collaborate (use any electronic device)
  6. Brief end-of-lesson review (time-permitting)
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Cathy Grochowski
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About Cathy Grochowski

Cathy Grochowski is a Digital Literacy teacher at Westfield Community School in Algonquin, Illinois. She is also a SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE). In her spare time she trains teachers to use SMART Notebook software and she is an adjunct instructor for graduate level education courses.

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16 thoughts on “How to Successfully Integrate SMART Learning Solutions in Your Classroom

    1. Thank you Janine-please pass the article on to teachers and administrators in your building and beyond.

  1. Excellent Blog. What a Great Motivator. I am in the process of using “Shout it Out” with my students so they could work collaboratively and share their knowledge about a prior lesson.

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