SMART Boards have been around for a while now. But oftentimes, they are not being used to their full capability. If teachers are using their SMART Boards in the same way they used projectors connected to computers, then they are not taking advantage of the many new and improved activities they could be doing with their classes.
There are plenty of free programs for SMART Boards available on the internet – a very good one that works for all the listed activities is ActivInspire, which gives you the tools to create beautiful, fun, and interactive slideshows. It's a good idea to get the SMART Notebook software as well. Here are ten activities SMART Board activities that are sure to make your classroom more hands-on, fun, and effective.
Interactive Board Games
Board games are great for getting kids to answer discussion questions in a fun way. On the SMART Board, you can play a digital life size game with the whole class, instead of printing out several for each group of students. Put them in teams and have them work together to answer questions and solve problems when it is there turn. You can make a template on ActivInspire and use the shape making tool to create little pawns that can be dragged around the board, just like in a real board game. With that template, you can add in different questions for different subjects or units and even play to review before the test.
Interactive Paperless Worksheets
You can help the environment and minimize the amount of copies you make per week by putting worksheets up on the SMART Board either by projecting ready-made worksheets from the internet or creating your own. Most SMART Board programs have an erase-and-reveal tool that allows you to hide information and then use the eraser tool to reveal it, i.e. a gap fill activity, which promotes a higher level of thinking for students.
There are a lot of visual options for brainstorming and organizing ideas on the SMART Board. You can use different colors, shapes, lines, and bubbles to create mind maps with your students and allow them to come up and scribble down their ideas.
Allow your students to edit incorrect work with the SMART Board stylus. Make a list of incorrect problems – whether it's grammar, spelling, math, or science – and have each student come up and correct one in a different color. This allows students to interact with the board and make a real visual change to something in front of the class. And if you're students aren't too shy, you could even project their work on the board and correct it as a class – this way students learn what's wrong and grasp it better by seeing it and discussing it.
Click and Drag Activities
Click and drag activities are great for teaching kids how to organize their thoughts. You can create columns on the board and have students put words or pictures into different categories. You can also color code them for young learners. This a very clear and visual way for students to learn to sort information. You can also provide them with sentences or word problems which they must click and drag the correct answer to.
Reading and Note-taking
The SMART Board may help students learn how to scan and take notes when they read, a useful tool for their future of test taking, reading comprehension, and studying in general. You can project a text on the screen and use the highlighter tool to highlight important points and keywords. As you read, students can mimic your note-taking, which in turn, will help them when they're reading on their own.
Game Show Style Activities
On game shows, people must work together to solve problems. In the same way, you can make a game show with challenges, trivia questions, or just review questions on the SMART Board. A great activity that can be built in ActivInspire is Jeopardy. Although on the TV show, there are only three contestants, you can do it in teams. Just make a grid with questions ranging from easy to hard in 5 or 6 different categories, then cover them up with the shape making tool and the amount each question is worth. It's a good engaging activity that has kids interacting and thinking for at least an hour.
To help kids with geography, interactive maps are a great tool that are available on many different websites including National Geographic and Sheppard Software. Instead of looking at a flat surface, interactive maps allow students to zoom in, click on different states and countries and discover all kinds of information from capitals to major historical points to geographical features. They are also more engaging and accessible than the real thing.
Kids love charades, but the only problem with it is that there's usually only one person acting and more than 20 guessing in a classroom setting. With reversed charades, you can divide the class into two teams, or even three, each with one guesser that stands in the front of the classroom with their back to the board. Words will appear on the board behind them and the rest of the class will act for their respective guesser. This works well with ActivInspire, where you can add a list of words, cover them up with shapes, and use the scroll tool to scroll through the words, revealing only one at at time. This is a good warm-up or end of class activity. Keep in mind, it can get rowdy, so maybe save it as a special treat when the class has behaved well.
The SMART Board Notebook software allows for many interactive math features, like protractors, spinners, clocks, and much more, to break math problems down for kids in a tangible way. There are games that show kids fractions, symmetry, and even data analytics, that range from K-12. During a study hour, you can even set the SMART Board up as a math station, for groups of students to take turns going up and working on math problems with the board's features, while you work with other groups at their desks.