Making a SMARTboard Work for Students With Physical Needs

Getting Smart About SMARTboards

As a teacher in elementary school, you are probably well aware of the myriad of SMARTboard uses which exist related to getting young students excited about their learning. SMARTboard uses that are related to educational software exist in abundance across domains as diverse as literacy, numeracy, the arts, health and environmental sustainability. But I bet there are a few uses you haven't considered before! Read on to learn more…

Extra Physical Needs

There are many children in mainstream classrooms the world over who have some additional physical needs. They are the students who have minor difficulties in particular area that are not necessarily an indication of a major disability or condition. But they are difficulties that can get in the way of learning if they are not dealt with early on and in an appropriate and effective way. Here are some examples:

  • Poor fine motor control – this means having a difficulty with managing fine movements usually of the hands and fingers such as in handwriting or threading or tying shoe laces.
  • Bilateral coordination – this refers to the ability to integrate both sides of the body together to produce a fluid, balanced two-sided movement such as riding a bike, throwing a tennis ball or playing 'Pat A Cake.'
  • Low muscle tone – for some kids, low muscle tone is a major hassle as it means their muscles have less ability to 'get up and go' when required and they tend to be floppier and have less joint stability.

None of these issues will necessarily make it onto a list of special educational needs or have an IEP written around them to help remediate the problem, but they are issues that can be helped by use of a SMARTboard (among many other strategies).

Give These a Go

Here are some examples of some SMARTboard uses to help deal with some of these minor physical difficulties that may exist in your own elementary classroom:

Play fun, interactive games where a student with low tone and poor shoulder stability and strength is encouraged to use a pointer to paint a picture, complete a puzzle or make color choices from a palate. This encourages the student to lift their arm up high and work the supporting muscles surrounding the shoulder. When they can reach a pointer to the top of the SMARTboard with one hand, have them try using the other!

Encourage a student with poor bilateral coordination to reach across the midline of their body to activate a section of the screen during a game, or to use both hands at the same time.

Create a maze on the screen so that a student with poor fine motor control can use their finger tips to trace the path through the maze to reach the other end successfully.

Remember that as teacher you may need to offer some one-to-one support to ensure students with physical difficulties are able to achieve success with these tasks. There are many other SMARTboard uses related to physical needs that can become modified parts of your own regular teaching program – the only limit is your creativity!