SMART Monsters For a S.T.E.M Win

Thank you to our special guest blogger Michelle Flicek, first grade teacher in Green Bay, Wisconsin and SMART Exemplary Educator.  

As the 2018-2019 school year begins, I have feverishly been preparing my classroom for a new school year. At the center of my classroom is SMART Technologies.  SMART and I believe in preparing our students for future jobs with 21st Century skills that are needed for success.  SMART’s 9 mascots are throughout their software and exhibit just a few of these skills.  As a first-grade teacher at a S.T.E.M focused elementary school, these monsters provide an additional focus for young students on those 21st Century skills.

As I look at the upcoming year, I am thinking how might we integrate these skills to help my students, so be successful today and in the future.  Integrating STEM throughout all subject areas does just that.  When we stop thinking of subjects as silos and start working on how our standards can be intermixed, we can be more successful.

First Grade Entrepreneurs

One of my favorite units that fosters STEM is economics.  Students learn about jobs, needs and wants, goods and services, and advertising through reading, writing, and math activities.  I love how I can use my SMART Board with SMART Learning Suite Online to present my integrated information that they will need.  They can easily connect to my lessons with their own iPads and complete activities along with me and at the board.  They love to play the SMART Lab activities that I add to lessons for sorting needs and wants or goods and services.  And who wouldn't love to play Monster Quiz or Gameshow to review all that we have learned.  These are engaging activities that can challenge my students thinking and make my teaching come to life.  As a final culminating activity, they work with a team to create a product to sell in a Friends and Family Economics Sale.  They use the Engineering Design Process to produce this item.  It is such an amazing real-world experience for them.  They used the money they made last year to pay for a class field trip!  When I look at all the 21st Century skills that the monsters stand for, this unit definitely encompasses all of them.

Wonder Projects 

During our light and sound unit, I love to have the students dive into a wonder that they have.  We call these our Wonder Projects (similar to a Genius Hour) integrated with STEM.  Students have choice in what they are most interested in learning about.  They spend about 5 weeks researching and planning.  Then they work on how they are going to share their learning with the class.  Last year, I had a number of students that wanted to use SMART Technologies to share what they knew.  One student created a whole SMART Notebook file to present her information.  Others chose to create a Monster Quiz and quizzed their classmates after presenting what they had found out.


The Future....

This year, I am really excited to see how I can integrate STEM more into SMART Learning Suite Online more with my students, especially Workspace.  Workspace will be a great tool to allow my students to collaborate with their classmates in one space.  I know this will be great for those engineering projects that require lots of group planning.  With Workspace, teams will be able to share what their plans are at the board for everyone to see.  Several of the monster 21st Century Skills come to mind.

So, how will the SMART Monsters help your students improve in the area of STEM learning this year!


My name is Michelle Flicek.  I teach first grade in Green Bay, Wisconsin at King Elementary, Children's Center for Engineering.  This is my 18th year teaching and I am loving it as much as my first.  We are a STEM focus school and I love how this allows me to give my students a real world, hands-on experience that will help them be successful in the world.  My passion includes educational technology and how I can incorporate this into my teaching.  I have been using SMART Technologies for 3 years and am proud to call myself a SMART Exemplary Educator.

Take the Conrad Challenge

This year, SMART Technologies launched an exciting partnership with the Conrad Foundation. We are excited to be very aligned with the focus on project based learning using STEM skills and understanding. This international competition gives students the opportunity for students ages 13-18 to identify relevant real-world challenges and develop innovative solutions. Finalists will compete at the Kennedy Space Centre in front of a qualified panel of judges. To learn more visit: and be sure to check out the newest category, Transforming Education with Technology here:


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