As part of the purchase, I was entitled to a one hour orientation. Michelle Wolfe is our SMART Board rep and she contacted me to set something up. Instead of giving me the orientation, I asked her if she'd be willing to give an orientation to a group of 3rd graders. Michelle happily agreed.
Over the past few years, I have been thinking about how we can use these tools to meet the needs of our 21st Century Learners. I keep going back to the documents such as NCTE's Framework for 21st Century Curriculum and Assessment, ISTE NETS for Students, and Partnership for 21st Century Skills' Framework for 21st Century Learning. I've been reflecting on ideas in articles like "It's Not About the Tools. It's About the Skills". I worry that we are using some new tools in ways that don't really change learning for our students. This article about the announcements of Apple's iPad reminded me just how important this was. For me, the important points from all of these documents are the focus on creation, communication, purpose and audience. I want to make sure that the SMART Board in our library becomes a tool for students instead of a tool for teachers to give information.
My thinking was that if we want the SMART Board to be used as a tool for learning--as something beyond a teacher tool, it was important that kids be familiar with and able to use the board. So, we put together a team of 20+ 3rd graders who will serve as our initial Think Tank. They volunteered for the position, knowing it would mean giving up recess time throughout the year. They were quite excited about their first meeting learning all they could about the board. Michelle was great--introducing them to many of the tools available on the software. Many had not had much experience with the SMART Board so they loved the whole nature of the touchscreen.
We decided to place the SMART Board on a wall in the library that is a little bit off to the side. Because so many of the "walls" in our library are windows, we were limited in our options. But I think the place that we chose will work well. It is a spot where a whole class can gather if needed. But it is also off to the side so kids can work on the SMART Board while other things are going on in the library. It is not front and center.
The students who were trained will be able to play a bit with the SMART Board over the next few months. I think that tinkering time will be critical. I think it will take a while for the newness of the tool to wear off but I think that as they play, kids will have great ideas for the kinds of things they might create. Another tool to communicate their learning, to problem solve, and to design. I imagine they'll design games, figure out ways to include their own photos, etc. use the software to revise writing, storytelling, and more. I'll plan to meet with the team every few weeks to reflect on things they've learned, share some new things and brainstorm how the boards can be used to better support their learning.
I'll keep you posted!