I am blessed to work in a classroom that has some really cool technology. I have an Elmo (document camera), LCD projector that is connected to the ceiling and a SMART board. Oh, and a laptop connected to all that. It’s been a learning curve to a.) learn to use the SMART board, and b.) figure out how to incorporate it into my classroom routine. Every time I created some cool activity from the SMART gallery, it seemed like one or two kids were at the board doing the activity, and everyone else was either yelling at them, telling them what to do, or playing around in the back of the class while I supported the student(s) at the board. The yelling at the kid in front had the effect of complete immobilization, thereby preventing any learning for anyone. I really do want to use a variety of modalities in my lessons, and do not want to waste such an amazing piece of technology. So, my question for myself this week was, “When that student is at the SMART board, what are the rest of the kids doing?”
Here is one thing I’ve come up with that has worked really well: Today we reviewed a group of spelling words which had already been introduced. I created an anagram activity for the SMART board in which a clue to the word was offered, and then a bunch of letters in bubbles appeared on the screen, all jumbled up. The student had to guess what the word is, and then move the letter bubbles into the right order. There is a timer which you can set at different speeds or turn off altogether. That adds a little pressure, although my students are marvelously adept at ignoring such demands.
Today I had created a simple foldable of a piece of bond paper, (One hot dog fold and two hamburgers) to create eight boxes on the paper. I drew lines on the folds, and wrote a word definition in each box, placing it on the document camera. When the students came in, I handed each a piece of paper and gave them a few minutes to fold it and copy the definitions. The definitions were intended to be a clue as to the words, as well as a review. Once everyone was done (really, a max of 10 minutes later), I put up a clue and then the jumbled word that went with it on the SMART board. Together the class figured out what the word was, and I told them to try to write it correctly on their paper.
Then I chose a name randomly from my popsicle sticks in a can. That student came to the board and started the game (Students are allowed to pass, although few do). The class was instructed to stay quiet while the student in front rearranged the letters to form the word. I asked the class to “respect their classmate’s thinking time,” and they pretty much complied. Once the word was formed correctly on the board, I told everyone to make sure they had it copied correctly, as this would be their study sheet.
This continued until all words had been completed. Having the SMART board activity come in little bursts worked really worked well. It kept everyone’s interest, yet didn’t seem like the main event, leaving out everyone who was in their seats. Asking myself, “What are the other kids doing?” has really helped me to create smoother lessons, and a more engaged class.
How about you? What have you devised to keep everyone engaged in your lessons? I appreciate any and all ideas!