Sunday, August 13, 2006

New York, New York

Yesterday I traveled to the "Big City" with my parents, sort of like a last hurrah before my mom and I go back to school and I go back to living on my own. It was a gorgeous day!!! Not too hot, not too cold, just right with the sun shining to beat the band. What a beautiful day to be alive!!!

As a sidebar that isn't related to technology and because we went to see the movie World Trade Center this week I will say this - I hope that the people of New York have had many days like this since that dreadful day and that they aren't always looking up for something to fall from the skies and cause them hurt again. Thank God for all of those who did give their lives that day trying to save the lives of others and who would and continue to do it on a daily basis!!!

Now, you may wonder what inspired me to write my first blog after a trip to New York. Well, I was trying to catch up on some of my own blog reading and podcast listening and I wanted to be sure to share what I've learned with you! I read a May article from THE Journal that discussed Interactive White Boards with Ben Hazzard, a fellow SMART Exemplary Educator who also podcasts about SMART Boards, and some other white board users and producers. He made an excellent point in his interview that it really isn't the SMART Board that makes the difference in the students' learning, attitudes, and behavior, but it's the learning that is occurring. "The boards are a conduit to the curriculum" (THE Journal, 2006).

I also listened to a few of his and his co-host's, Joan Badger, also an Exemplary Educator, podcasts. In them, they invite fellow SMART Board users to come on the show and share a lesson with the rest of the world. The Notebook files are posted so that you can follow along as well as many of the links if they are not included in the Notebook file. The episodes that I listened to were "Best Of's" - the Best of the Previous Year's Lessons and Podcasts. This was a good place to start because these teachers that were sharing were primarily Exemplary Educators who really had quite a few special SMART tricks up their sleeves. Anyone who feels slightly comfortable with their SMART Board should really listen and take note of the special little things they've discovered about the boards and the software that they've figured out and try them themselves to find out where they can come in handy. If I get a chance, I have to listen again and write them all down myself as they were truly good ideas and some that I forget because of not using my board as much as I'd like.

I know that I've discussed primarily SMART Boards. As far as I'm concerned they are the best around. If you'd like to learn about others - read the article in THE Journal above. It does a good job explaining some of the other options. I personally like the SMART Notebook software that comes with the SMART Board and feel that the pricing isn't too outrageous, though I'd love to see the rear-projection boards come down, but that's just because I would love to have one to use myself. There is a grant process for SMART Boards and NEC projectors that is very friendly and I strongly suggest you apply if you are thinking about purchasing SMART products. I also suggest you check out the other products such as their Airliner Wireless Slates and Sympodiums to make sure you get what is right for you.

Once you've got your SMART product, make sure you get the correct training. There is very nice on-line training that SMART provides for free. There are some other options that are also very nice and very useful for beginning SMART Board users. Don't forget the software as well. They have their Bridgit Conferencing software, SynchronEyes software to watch your labs, and SMART Ideas that is very similar to Inspiration.

Lastly, always keep your eye on the Education site as they have a very active community with the Professional Development Programs like Exemplary Educator, Conference Presenter, and Trade Show Teacher. There is also always a wealth of pre-made lessons for Notebook and SMART Ideas aligned with State Standards.

Good luck and Happy Computing!