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SmartNotebook, hello old friend!

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

I observed many student teachers this school year and noticed a common theme. A lot of them were using SmartNotebook. It surprised me when I saw an interactive whiteboard that was interactive! Students were writing, drawing, dragging, and dropping content on the board. The interactive whiteboard was used in engaging ways rather than simply as a fancy and expensive projector screen.

I was skeptical when I first saw this tool in action. It has been a hot minute since I downloaded SmartNotebook, and I wasn't sure about showing it to my future teachers today in class. I used it when I was a teacher. As soon as we downloaded the software, it looked the same as the version I used with my K-12 students. You can download the software here (free trial of smart notebook).

Features include:

  • Math features - rulers, protractors, and a compass! Perfect for showing students how to use measuring tools. You can also digitally measure items on the board.

  • The shading tool - is a fantastic way to cover up content on the screen. You can adjust the shade horizontally or vertically. You can use it to cover up the answer to a question, reveal instructions, or step by step through a multi-step problem. The possibilities are endless!

  • Pen options - Admittedly, the pens are a lot of fun to use. I particularly liked the calligraphy pen. With the creative pen, you can also write in rainbows or snowflakes. You can also circle content and make it disappear using the magic pen. By drawing a circle with the magic pen, you can also spotlight content by darkening the screen and highlighting it. You can use this tool to predict students' content or provide clues about ideas.

  • There are fun backgrounds you can add to your document. My favorite is a handwriting background students can use with the pen feature to write their names. I also love the seasonal backgrounds. 💡 Adding some sprinkles to your presentations is as simple as creating backgrounds in Canva and attaching them to your notebook file.

  • Okay, I know this isn't too exciting, but you can add a table to your slide. An instructor was using this feature for non-instructional purposes. She displayed a table with the lunch choices in each column on the screen. She then displayed each student's name as a text box off to the side of the table. Students were expected to drag their names from the side of the table to the lunch table when they came into class. It was a sneaky way to take attendance! Your students can help you complete two non-instructional tasks at the same time! Yay!

In SmartNotebook, creating content from scratch can be tedious and time-consuming, so I was about to give up and throw in the towel until I realized under inset, I could add content from the Smart Exchange site. Wow! I was so surprised at what it offered to my learners! It's a library full of templates that you can use or customize for your own needs, saving your teacher's time and sanity!

Creating a free account is the first step. Next, search for content based on keywords, grades, or subjects—select standards or resources to interact with.

There were so many interactive activities to choose from! I downloaded an activity I liked and opened it in SmartNotebook - it was ready to go! It's fantastic to show material on the interactive whiteboard for students to do, but what if you wanted all students to interact with the material? Lumio is a great tool for that!

Lumio is an interactive component of SmartNotebook that allows all students to use their own devices to engage in the content. Create an activity, start it, and then provide students with the code to join the class. Once you've selected a mode, you can begin the lesson with your students. Lumio also offers other ways to interact with content.

  • Add ad-free Youtube videos to your lessons.

  • Explore Desmos

  • Create content with their slides, where the design work is done for you. All you need to do is add your content.

  • Show slides where students can respond to the lesson and take part. They can also brainstorm ideas here.

  • Response prompts can take the form of multiple-choice, true/false, check box answers, polls, or short answer responses.

  • Make a game! The monster quiz game was a hit with my students. Other activities include a game show, a matching label reveal, and sorting activities.

You can even search for interactive content for your students based on keywords, grades, or subject areas and create a class there. Students can interact with content in many creative ways. My favorite features under explore resources were the manipulatives with a hundred charts, ten frames, and magnetic poetry.

Lumio and SmartNotebook allow you to create content that engages students in large groups, small groups, and individual instruction. There are so many ways to support your learners. Try it! You can download the software here (free trial of smart notebook).

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