"I’ll take Ancient Mesopotamia for 500!”: The Interactive Classroom

TRCA pair of students in a 6th grade Social Studies class engages classmates in an online Jeopardy review game. Why doesn’t the pair need to review? They already did while they were designing the game. Across the city, budding chemists manipulate variables in a simulated experiment too costly and potentially dangerous to conduct in “real life”. “I wonder what would happen if…” one students muses as she adds another compound. “Your team has 3 minutes to crack this code!” appears on the screen in a math classroom. Students hurriedly confer and use their Smartphones to contribute responses to a poll displayed on the Smartboard. What is common to all these student-centered learning moments is physical and intellectual engagement with content, one another, and the interactive learning software available to all CPS educators, SMART Notebook.

Interactive whiteboards, Brightlink projectors, iPads, and Chromebooks are changing the way CPS teachers teach and their students learn. This year, as part of an ICTS Department goal to further integrate interactive learning resources into instruction, many ICTS teachers led or supported professional development courses that explored designing new curriculum--for individual, small and whole group learning--that utilizes interactive technologies. Due to the different learning needs and available technologies across schools and grade levels, different courses were designed and delivered to teachers in K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12 cohorts district-wide. Targeting instruction to grade-level cohorts was a new professional development strategy this year, one that positively impacted teacher learning and collaborative curriculum design.

CPS educators came together to explore, learn, create interactive lessons, and share best practices in collegial and supportive environments. The courses addressed the following questions: How can I use my interactive whiteboard/projector and Smart Notebook software as instructional, student performance and assessment tools? What interactive resources are available to me? How can collaborating with others help me develop my interactive teaching skills, identify opportunities to use them and to create lesson plans that embed the thoughtful use of interactive resources? Topics included teaching with SMART Notebook, web-based interactive content, integrating Google Drive and Classroom and 21st century classroom management. 

TRCMany participants chose to focus on integrating SMART Notebook software into their instructional repertoire. Now that the District has a license for all school-owned computers as well as teacher personal computers, it’s a great time to explore this game changer for versatile, engaging, differentiated learning! But why should busy teachers open SMART Notebook when they’ve got Google Classroom, Google Slides, iLife, and other tools? SMART Notebook allows users to build and manage interactive, multimedia rich lesson content...easily. What sets it apart is an unlimited number of savable screens, a wide range of pen and highlighter tools, the ability to layer and stack “objects”--shapes, text, digital ink, images--on a digital canvas, add and save digital ink annotations to websites and files, transform equations into manipulable graphs, easily embed audio, video, 3D, and other interactive learning objects that allow students to manipulate ideas and understand complex concepts visually. What’s more, two robust lesson recording features can be used to archive lessons, creating 24/7 access to learning.

Ultimately, the goal is to put this powerful learning technology in the hands of learners--having students design content for one another-- but where can a teacher new to the software begin? What are some features teachers can use to quickly create interactive lessons and promote collaboration amongst their students...this week? Look no further than the below:

The Gallery: Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0
SMART Notebook comes with activity templates that can be easily customized in a variety of ways for learners across grades and disciplines. Sorting, ranking, multiple choice, keyword, Venn diagram, and fill-in-the-blank drag and drop activities can all be found within a folder in the Gallery  called the Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0. The Tools folder in the Gallery is another important first stop. There you will find random word, group, and number generators, click-and-reveal activities, hide and reveal activities, a “question flipper”, a scoreboard and much more.

Lesson Activity Builder: Assess Student Responses Delivered by Phone, and More
The Lesson Activity Builder contains six visually engaging activity templates--sorting, matching, ranking, label revealing, “speedway” multiple choice, and a Notebook version of Padlet--that are even faster to access and edit than items in the Lesson Activity Toolkit! Teachers can even import class lists into many of them. A huge Lesson Activity Builder hit amongst CPS teachers was the activity Shout It Out (a Notebook version of Padlet) that enables students to respond to questions on a “group canvas” using their phones or other 1:1 device (tablet, computer). Shout It Out is a CPS approved tool so no parent permission form is required for this powerful student response/collaboration tool.

The Smart Exchange: Interactive Lessons by Teachers for Teachers
Need an interactive lesson on slope for tomorrow? No problem! Head to the Smart Exchange through the Notebook software or click here.  Teachers can search by subject, keyword, or grade level, scan results for files that have been downloaded and “liked” frequently, quickly preview them, edit if necessary, save and upload them to Google Drive. Once in Drive, the files can be downloaded and opened on any device with Smart Notebook installed. 

With SMART Notebook and a host of other interactive resources, teachers can easily differentiate instruction, increase engagement and challenge students to think critically, creatively and collaboratively in novel ways. Please contact your building ICTS technician for installation on classroom computers. Please contact your school-based ICTS team for the license and user agreement for installation on personal machines as well as training and curriculum design support. 


Source: http://education.smarttech.com/en/products/smart-learning-suite/smart-lab


This is an image of the Shout It Out activity
Source: http://blogs.fcps.net/tips/files/2015/11/ShoutItOut.png

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