I’m starting a unit about chemistry and it is very vocabulary heavy, so I wanted to find ways to teach vocabulary that are interesting, but effective in reinforcing the terminology. 

What I love about this lesson is that the technology is there, but it disappears to just become another engaging part of the lesson, not the focus of the lesson. The ideas here are nothing earth shattering or new, but when combined together they make for a very engaging, fun lesson, that really wakes up otherwise very boring topics.

Station 1: Vocabulary  Jenga Each jenga block was wrapped in paper and had a definition or vocabulary word, as they freed the blocks they had to match them, and if the tower tumbled they had to match them all!  I got the idea via twitter off of a blog which I didn’t bookmark, so it’s not original, but I loved it!

Station 2: Smartboard I had three vocabulary activities up on the board they were to work through as a group to match, drag, and review vocabulary.  They loved gathering around the board and trying things together, working through the activites.  A great use of technology embedded into a lesson instead of the lesson being about the technology.  The use of an IWB as a small group station is wonderful.  The level of student engagement is very high and a conversation about their learning always seems to develop.
Station 3: Paper Chains  The students had strips with a definition and a word (that didn’t match!) They had to find the matching definition that would connect to continue the chain. 
Station 4: Two Truths and a Lie  Students were given a word and had to come up with two facts and a lie about it.  Their group then had to decide what was untrue. 
Station 5: Head bandz  Students had words attached to headbands.  They had to ask questions of other people in their group until they figured out what word they were.
Station 6: Name that Mixture  Students had to identify what type of mixture was in the beaker, but it’s more fun that that.  There were six mixtures with 8 labels.  They would have to run and match up six labels to six mixtures.  A helper would see if they were correct and if not they would have to race back and try to fix them up.  They were timed and would race to make matches.  A helper would check and then they would race back to fix when they knew how many they had correct.  You could hear cheers of,  “No it’s  a suspension!” or “It’s saturated!”  Very fun!  This one would have been labelled a heterogeneous mixture!
Station 7: Looping  I did this activity as a large group.  Each student is given a card with a word and a definition that doesn’t match.  One student starts by reading their definition, then the student with the corresponding word reads their word, then the random definition on the next car, leading to the next student, and so on.  Eventually it loops back to the original student.  We then race to beat our own times to see how fast we can loop through the definitions

My first five years of teaching I was a humanities specialist, not teaching math or science.  Now they have become my favourite subjects to engage students in learning.  We learn in groups, we talk about what we are learning, and we use technology (of course!)

I want to showcase a lesson with practical ideas for not only teaching math in a hands on way, but to use technology to teach it.

My grade 5 students have been working on 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication.  I have had them working with base 10 blocks in groups to work through what multiplication actually means.

We are working through several steps to build not only skill in solving multiplication problems, but to develop a deep understanding of the concept of multiplication.  We work through several representations from concrete, to pictorial, to symbolic. I’ve linked to a WMV version of the file under each You Tube clip, just in case You Tube is blocked for you as well.

The first clip shows multiplication by making groups. They are showing how they worked with 12 x 14.

WMV Math 1 Video File

The students continue to solve 12 x 14 by regrouping with their blocks

WMV Math 2 Video File

The third clip is about the next evolution in the strategy, solving 12 x 14, but instead of using groups the kids are making a rectangle showing 12 rows of 14 to solve the problem.

WMV Math 3 Video File

23 x 24 using a rectangle to solve a 2 digit by 2 digit multiplication program.

WMV Math 4 Video File

We got steadily more complicated in our questions. Here we are working with 41 x 33

WMV Math 5 Video File

As we went through the process we would stop and discuss what we were doing and go through examples together using the Smartboard.

I set a hundred, ten, and unit base 10 block as infinite cloners and we could easily pull them over to show how to multiply by making groups or by building a rectangle.

The technology really enhanced the lesson. The students that were done called me over immediately and couldn’t wait to share what they knew on the flip camera. Groups started to bicker over who I would tape next. I also had groups that had completely the problem successfully build their answers on the Smartboard so we could go over them together as a class.

This shows a complete process of using technology to enhance a concrete, hands on math lesson.

The next step would be to take the concept to a pictorial representation used base 10 paper to draw rectangles. Eventually we will get to a symbolic representation of the multiplication problems in a more traditional way. But even then we don’t use an algorithm we break it down into how many thousands, hundreds, tens, and ones the problem has, then add it together.

When preparing lessons using Smart notebook, one of the great features you can incorporate is the ability to hide content and have it “appear” at an opportune moment.

The list below are your options to hide and reveal content in your lessons:

1) Flash Based Pull Tabs – In the new LAT 2.0 the pull tabs can be “pinned” to a location.   After you pull them out, you hit the arrow and they will hide again automatically.  Pull tabs in the LAT 2.0 can be pulled from the left, right, top, or bottom of the screen.  They can also be pulled out from behind other objects.  Very flexible and useful!   The tabs come in all sorts of colours to match your lesson design.
Reveal - pull tab
2)Simple Pull Tabs – The flash based pull tabs are great, and easy to use, but they have limitations.  The graphic based pull tabs are more flexible.  You can group an image, text, or a shape to the graphic tab and pull out the tab to reveal the attached content.  Using image transparency you can have a complete overlay attached to a tab and pull it across to fill in answers, add colour, or enhance details.
reveal simple tab
3) Question Flipper – Text/Image – a simple tile that, when pressed, flips over to reveal text or a photo.
reveal flipper
4) Balloon Pop – click on the balloon to reveal text, graphics, or photos underneath. Great for very young kids!
Reveal balloon
5) Question Tool – click on the box to have text appear/disappear in the box.
reveal note
6) Information Button/Note Reveal – Click on the Question mark to reveal information!   A nice reveal tool to use with old and young students alike.   The information button has a larger box to type in.  The note reveal is for shorter chunks of information and can appear to the left or to the right.
Reveal info button
7) Click and Reveal Shapes – click on the shape to reveal text, graphics, or photos underneath.  The shape can be a square, star, circle, rectangle, or triangle.
Reveal square

One of my goals for next year is building my individual Smart Notebook files into complete units, providing some flow, cohesiveness, and I will have all of my resources in one place, easily accessible.  Over the summer I hope to get my units done and ready to go for neat year.  I’m starting with science, grade 5, electricity and magnetism.

Here is the process I am going through to build a Smart Notebook based unit – as I try to maximize the use of my Smart Board and engage students to deepen their understanding of the concepts being taught.

1) Theme, background, and visuals – I always start with a background colour, a title, and a few visuals to create consistency.  After the title page I create a theme from the first page so that it is easy to have the same colour and title on each page following.
2) Outcomes for the unit – I build the outcomes of the unit into simple, “I Can” statements for students and link lessons to those outcomes.  I reference the actual outcomes at the end of the unit – to keep them in an easy to refer to location.
unit - I can
3) What do I already have – I dig through my old files to see what I already have made, and what I can incorporate and reuse.  What I don’t use I delete, I’m never one to keep old files – they just collect and I never use them, so I clean them out as I go.
unit - already have
4) Linking – The key to developing a unit – linking smart notebook files, pdf files, student handouts on word, assessments, and helpful external websites.
unit - linking
5) Visuals, Media, Videos, Flash – I love using the Smart Board for Flash activities we can do together and discuss.  I think the hands on nature of them is great reinforcement of concepts for students.  Visuals are key for visual learners, and short video clips to introduce or reinforce concepts are very engaging for students.  For a complete list of the flash activities in the Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0, with examples – Click Here
unit - Flash
6) Bringing it all together – pull together individual lesson elements, attach files and stand alone Smart Notebook lessons. Using the attachment tab you can bring in pdf, smart files, word documents, and collect all unit documents in one place. This collection makes all of your files easy to access, and easy to link so all of your lesson and unit materials are in one place.
unit - together

My last post was a hit – it seems that sometimes a reminder of some of the neat features of a program is helpful.  PD seminars can be overwhelming and packed full of information (if they are good ones) so a few reminders or highlighting a fuzzy feature can go a long way.  In that spirit here are 5 more features that I use to help design engaging learning activities for my students using Smart Notebook 10.

1) Change the Default Font Settings – This drove me a bit crazy for a while – I could change the text settings easily once I opened a text box and started typing, but I didn’t know how to change the default settings.  I asked for help on Twitter and had my answer from TeqSmart via TechyTurner in about 5 minutes – so here is it for everyone else that it is driving a little bonkers.
text prop1
Click on the Text Tool (Big “A”) on the toolbar and select one of the six text settings that you want to change.  On the properties tab change the settings as you require (colour, size, font) and choose Save Tool Properties – and your settings are changed.
text prop002
2)magic003 The Magic Pen – The Pen Icon with stars around it is a very neat tool. If you draw a circle it will put a spotlight on the circular spot and greys out the rest of the screen. If you draw a rectangle it will zoom in on the rectangular spot. If you just use it as a normal pen the notes will fade in 10 seconds – the kids will think you are a superhero (mine do – I should get a cape!)
3)shape 1Shape Recognition Pen – This is a handy tool to draw free hand shapes. When you draw something reasonably close to a given shape, it will automatically transform into that shape.
shape 002
4) shadeScreen Shade – and a Cell Shade too! Use this tool to hide or cover a slide from the top, bottom, or either side. A similar tool can be used with a table to hide a cell. In a multi-cell table you can shade one, any, or all of the cells. If you right click on a cell, one of the options is cell shade.
5) Create a Theme – if you make a great background and header for a page and want it to be fixed without endless locking, you can choose Format – Themes – Create Theme From Page. This will save your custom theme in the theme folder in the gallery.

I’m presenting to my staff a quick tech corner at the regular staff meeting, my topic this week is 5 cool tricks on the Smartboard.

There are many cool tools, techniques, and resources.  I’m selecting 5 tools which I use all the time to highlight.

dual page
1) Dual Page Display and Pinning – you can easily toggle between dual and single page display with the dual page button on the toolbar. When in Dual Page mode you can pin one page. The pinned page will stay and you can change the other page with the arrows or slide sorter.
2) Customizable Interactive Flash Files – The Lesson Activity Toolkit is full of interactive flash files that you can easily edit and modify to create custom activities.
3) Linking – Linking to files, websites, other sides.  Use the attachment tabe to link to audio, video, Ms Office, or other Smart notebook files.
Use the insert link function to link to the files in the attachments tab, to webpages, or to other slides in the same notebook file.
4) Customize Your Toolbar  – By right clicking on the toolbar in Smart, it opens up a window that allows you to drag icons on and off the toolbar to customize it to your own wishes.
5) Using and Updating the Gallery -The gallery tab allows you to search for content to insert into notebook files.
wrenchYou can keep the gallery up to date using the wrench tool.  Click on the wrench and choose Check for updates to download the new Lesson Activity Toolkit 2.0 and other recent updates.