How to Make a SMART Board Lesson an Engaging, Interactive Learning Experience

The Basics

A really good SMART Board lesson is really not all that different to a regular lesson. It needs to be well-organized, delivered at a decent pace, and involve activities to engage your students in learning the objectives you set out for them. SMART’s Notebook is the ideal software to do all this because of the breadth of features that it offers educators. It is versatile, interactive, and can link to any other files and websites you need it to. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of it when creating your own lessons for the SMART Board.


SMART Notebook Lessons: Attachments

Good lessons are organized lessons. Fortunately, SMART’s Notebook software has several ways to keep your lessons ordered and well thought-out. So, a good way to start creating your lesson is by adding a title page. Find them in the Lesson Activity Toolkit under the sub-folder ‘Pages’. Here you can state your lesson objectives and add any notes that you want to remember.

You may also want to rename your pages so that you can see at a glance what is on each one. Do this by clicking the dropdown box on a page thumbnail, and clicking on ‘Rename page’. Once renamed, you should consider grouping some pages together by topic or theme. In the page sorter tab, click the ‘Groups’ button, and then ‘Edit Groups’. From here you can add new groups, rename groups, and drag pages into groups.

Finally, get all your resources together by adding them to the attachments tab. Here you can add any files that you would like to use in the course of your lesson whether they are Internet shortcuts, PDFs, videos, or other Notebook files. You can add a shortcut link to the file’s location on your computer, or add a copy of the file itself. Either way, it will save you time during class and help maintain the pace of your lesson.

Interactive Elements

Keeping students engaged in SMART Board lessons is a lot easier when they are actively involved in your lessons. A SMART trainer once told me that my students should be using the SMART Board at least as much as I do, if not more. So, make sure that you work some interactive elements into your lessons to get students out of their seats and using the board.

  • Use pull tabs to help hide or add additional information that is pertinent to your lesson objectives. You can find them in the Lesson Activity Toolkit by clicking on the ‘Graphics’ folder and then the ‘Pull tabs’ folder. Be sure to try the standard and interactive versions of this handy tool.
  • Owners of a SMART Response classroom set can easily add some extra interaction by throwing in a few instant questions, or even an end of lesson quiz.
  • ‘Drag to reveal’ objects are quick and easy to make. Start by writing the answer you want to hide. Then, create a shape, fill it, or use an object from the Lesson Activity Toolkit, and drag it over the top of your answer. Add some directions telling the students which objects to drag and you can use it with multiplication tables, science diagrams, vocabulary words and a whole lot more.
  • Animate objects so that they fade out to reveal an answer, or spin around to signify the right answer when touched. To do this, click on an object’s dropdown menu and select ‘Properties’. In the properties tab, select ‘Object Animation’ and choose from the variety of options you have to animate an object.
  • Try some interactive whiteboard games. They are great for review and can involve the whole class. Use them at the end of a lesson to check understanding, or to review a longer unit of study. You can find a great selection of game show type games, including downloadable files, if you read Interactive Whiteboard Games for the Classroom.

SMART Board Lessons – Continued

Create Themes

Creating themes for your SMART Board lessons is a good way to ensure continuity between your lessons, while also adding some style to them. A well chosen theme can definitely add you your lesson, and if you take the time to set a few up, they will serve you well for months or even years to come. Think of a theme as a custom background for your lesson. You can add pictures, choose a font, include text, and pick a background color. Some pre-made themes are included in the Gallery, but you can make your own very easily. Simply click Format > Themes > Create Theme, to get started. Some Elementary teachers create themes for each subject, while Middle and High School teachers do the same for different classes. You can add the teacher’s name, the class and grade level, or any other information you want to include. Working on a space topic for Science? Create your own planet theme! Once you are happy with your theme, save it. The completed theme will appear in your My Content folder.

The Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit

SMART Board Lessons: Gallery

The Gallery and Lesson Activity Toolkit are great places to find interactive activities for your SMART Board lessons. In fact, there is so much here that many experienced SMART Board users are still finding things they did not know were there. Need a scoreboard, a timer, or a calculator? It’s there. What about a lesson on emails, a virtual frog dissector, or an interactive xylophone? Believe it or not, those are also all found in the Gallery. There really is something for everyone.

The Lesson Activity Toolkit has some great customizable games in the ‘Activities’ folder. From here you can choose from a selection of lesson activities that can be customized to suit the abilities and needs of your students. Many can be used in more than one way, but all have their place firmly rooted in classroom pedagogy.

Page Linking

Page linking is a great way to make a lesson self-contained so that students can use it themselves without directions from the teacher. Page links can be simple like ‘click here to go to the next page’, or they can be more complex with multiple links associated with a quiz or series of choices that the student can make in order to complete an activity. To link pages, create or select an object to serve as the bridge between pages. Click on the dropdown menu and select ‘Link’. From here you can choose to link pages, and you will see a list of possible pages for you to link to, and for neatness and ease of use I would recommend clicking ‘object’, instead of ‘corner icon’, to activate your link. Just be sure to test it out before unleashing your lesson on the students, becasue page linking can get kind of complicated, especially when linking forward and backwards through a lesson.

SMART Exchange

Finally, you can learn a lot about good lesson design by downloading examples from the SMART Exchange website. They may not always be directly relevant to what you are teaching, but they can all be edited to the way you want to use them. Add or delete pages, and change the content to meet your needs. There are some very talented educators uploading some great lessons, so use some of their ideas to help create lessons that you can be proud of.

Downloadable Resource

These are just some of the ways that you can make your SMART Board lessons more appealing and engaging for your students. Some of them go beyone SMART Board basics, but they are some of the most effective and easy to use ways to add interactivity to your lessons.

For examples of the techniques discussed in this article, please download the accompanying SMART Notebook resource file that I created for you to experiment with, and learn some of these great Notebook features in your own time.