Hello fellow challengers
I did the challenge last year and gained so much from it. There was a Smartboard in my Grade 4 class last year. This year's Grade 2 class has no Smartboard, although we still get to use one when we visit the computer lab twice a week.


NOTES ON CHALLENGE NUMBER 1 - ADDING SOUND FILES


The daily routine in my Grade Two class includes a spelling game. I used the Challenge Number One to try and create a spelling game labelled 'Spelling Bee'. The basic concept of this game is for one person to spell out a word letter-by-letter, and another person (or class) to call out the word as soon as they think they know what it is.
I created twelve sound files in Audacity and exported them into Smart Notebook 10 - easy enough. I tried it out on the class with the most interesting results. I had many suggestions from the children how to improve the activity and how they could each do a Notebook page themselves. They were keen to take over.
I was delighted to see each student work hard on creating their own list of twelve words to record at a later stage. They used word banks in the classroom, Dolsch word cards, and topic words about their favourite sports or hobbies. They showed their lists to friends and asked them for help with spelling. Even before using the computer, interaction was high.
Amid such enthusiasm and student confidence, problems arose. My teacher's laptop was the only computer with consistently accurate sound recording facilities. The student desktop computers are available, but without Notebook 10 software. I have microphone headsets, but not the time nor the inclination to check the settings to see if they will work seamlessly for the students. Did that mean I was going to be without my laptop while the students worked on their files? These students were Grade Two - was I too ambitious with expecting the students' independence in utilising two programs - Audacity and Notebook 10 - at once?
A few students helped to create the first Notebook file. It took nearly 30 minutes! This seemed to be an impractical whole-class project. I trained one of the able students, expecting her to show another. She missed out on the maths lesson of the day. Scheduling was going to be an insurmountable problem.
The term has come to an end, and I have organised 4 Notebook files. The students love creating the files, and the whole class enjoys the presentation. My solution to the issue will be get a parent helper in for a whole day, hand them my laptop, and blitz the file creation process.
Why bother with the IWB? Why not just get the students to stand out the front of the class and call out their letters? Sure, it comes over nice and clear over the classroom sound system. Sure, it's easier for the shy student to present with the IWB. But it does not make sense to keep these IWB files for use at another time - these words are important for these students right now. I think it could make a great portfolio item, as it could allow the students to demonstrate some 'hard' words they know or some words they are confident to spell without error. It's a shame we are not into electronic portfolios at our College. Besides, the students don't have Notebook 10 software to run the files on their own computers at home - wouldn't it be fun to try out your 'Spelling Bee' file on your brother or sister!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Obdu5pULTXY



CHALLENGE NUMBER 2 - CLONING

I have prepared a Smart Notebook file for my Grade Two class to use next week. It's a simple file, with pictures of Australian coins ready to be duplicated, thanks to Notebook's 'Infinite Cloner' tool. I sourced these pictures from the 'Tuxpaint Stamps for Australian Schools' and have saved the images in my Notebook Gallery for the future. I have set up the task as a small-group activity. Each group of six students has a Notebook page set up with their Lego avatar. Each student will take turns at dragging coins to make up the amount required.
There are many money-maths activities online, including my favourite 'Australian Money Maths Manipulatives'. Why re-invent the wheel? I am hoping that the Lego avatar feature on the page will delight the students. I feel that the task is open-ended enough to encourage different answers, and for the students to support one another as they take their turns. We shall see next week.

CHALLENGE NUMBER 3 - TRANSPARENCY

When approaching this challenge I really had to distill the elements: what could I use the transparency tool for? Revealing only parts of a text or image, comparing changes in a text or image, creating a summary of a text or image. perhaps you can think of more basic uses?
The text that I used, "The Streets of Perth Yesterday and Today" by Edmund Robless presented me with the opportunity to use the transparency tool to compare change through images. Edmond Robless has found some old photos of Perth streets and taken new photos from the same angle or viewpoint. Thank you Edmund.
I am using this activity at the beginning of an inquiry examining the question 'how have shops changed?. I hope the children in my Grade Two class will learn to look at photos to obtain historical evidence to answer their question.
This Challenge took me quite a while to complete. Upon finding the wonderful book, I wrestled at length with discovering a worthwhile purpose for using the images. My original idea was to superimpose each photo and get the students to trace over the differences that they observed. Too complicated, too visually busy and too time-consuming. Although I have not yet presented this activity to my class, I believe that the presentation as it stands is simple enough for them to notice differences that matter to THEM, and to get the idea of gaining information from photos.
In the process of completing this challenge, I have gained several new skills. I have learnt the difference between the menu items 'transparent background' (still confused about its uses), 'set picture transparency' (what?) and 'set item properties' leading to 'object transparency' slider - aha! I learnt that jpeg images import nicely as opposed to pdf files. I practised rotating and resizing my images. All basic stuff you say? Yes, and it took me time to prepare these files. I only hope that I can use them for another class in the future.

CHALLENGE NUMBER 4 - RECORD, CAPTURE AND EXTEND THINKING

The portfolio assessment task for our Grade Two learners entails making the amount of $2.00 using different coins. The Smart Notebook file was set up with coins to clone, and each student had a turn. The Notebook file was saved for me to check later - all good. Except for one student. One of my more capable children in mathematics, he made several errors and spent three times longer on the task, in spite of some tips from me. What was going on?
My feeling is that this student can complete the task without error, and deserves another go. I created the jpeg by saving the Notebook file and exporting into Voicethread. I will now ask him and his classmates to give tips to correct the errors. For a bit of fun, and to save the student any embarrassment, I will present the file as the work of 'Pinky', our class wireless mouse.
Record - easy with the Smart Notebook. Capture - easy to export into Voicethread. Extend thinking - I think the students will do this easily. However, recording and capturing this thinking on Voicethread will not be so easy, as sound recording on our school computers is always problematic.


CHALLENGE NUMBER 5 - USING CONTAINERS

This term my Year Two class is conducting an inquiry into money and shopping. We will be covering measurement of mass in our mathematics activities. This Smart Notebook file has been created to help the students think about what kinds of everyday items are measured in grams and kilograms. What does a kilogram feel like? What kinds of things are measured in kilograms? What does it say on the package?
The Notebook file was relatively simple to create, but I could not find a way to incorporate the aspect of providing instant feedback if the items have been sorted correctly, as demonstrated by Challenge setter Chris Betcher.
This Challenge was a real button-pusher for me. I don't run the kind of classroom where right and wrong answers are highly valued. I seek out open-ended tasks and activities where opinions and different viewpoints run the show. So, do 'right-and-wrong' containers belong in my classroom? I do acknowledge that there is a place for these types of activities, but I feel very reluctant to use my planning time to create Smartboard lessons for these. My perception of the Smartboard in my room is of a meeting place, a centre of interaction - the interaction being between people, talking about things that matter to them. I hope that the images that i have chosen will draw out the children's knowledge about where they buy their watermelons, how big is the bag of rice they buy, and how much dog food their rotweiler gets through in a week. I hope they take photos or create movies of what's in their own pantry, and show it to their classmates to help us all deepen our understanding of how mass is measured.


CHALLENGE NO. 6 - CAPTURING REFLECTIONS

In our Grade Two classroom, we have been investigating the measurement of Time in Mathematics. For their portfolio task the students drew a clock, showing everything they could about how time is measured and what clocks do. After a few more days of immersing the students in a variety of time-measuring activities, we headed towards the portfolio assessment task. The students drew their clock once again, this time aiming to demonstrate that they had learnt more about the topic. Just before they drew their second clock, I asked one student to comment on how he was going to improve his clock drawing the second time around. I had scanned his first picture, placed it on the 'big screen' in front of the class, and then recorded his thinking via the Smart video capture tool. The student pointed to and described features, and 'drew' on his picture with the pen tool. This quick reflective moment was a successful moment, leading to all students to start the second part knowing what they could do.
In my own reflection time later, I felt that the student's video told me quite a bit more than his second picture. Although most of the class wanted to have a go at using the Smartboard in this way, I was simply out of time and could not manage it. If we were operating on digital- rather than paper-based portfolios the movie artefact would have been perfect and worth the effort to record each student in this way.
I would like to acknowldedge the assistance of 'Pinky' in this activity, a wireless mouse that I recently purchased for the students' use. Pinky has changed our lives, as the teacher laptop has become the students' tool in small-group work, and enabled the students themselves to do many more learning demonstrations. Did I mention that there is no Interactive Whiteboard in our classroom this year? Just Smart Notebook software, and a wonderful little wireless mouse.


CHALLENGE NO. 7 - TURN OFF YOUR IWB

As part of my teaching duties in 2007, I had to teach a Divinity class (religious instruction) to my colleague Robyn's Grade Prep class. We had both just received Smartboards in our classrooms and I was eager to put the board through its paces. I prepared a lesson on the bible story 'The Good Shepherd', which consisted of a Smart Notebook file. The children could move some clip art objects around the screen to retell the story. Much like a feltboard story.
good_shepherd_2_1.jpeg
The Good Shepherd

Robyn observed the lesson as I taught. The lesson bombed! The clip art was just plain wrong - it seemed to trivialise a great story. Was there a better way to tell the story? Robyn and I agreed that it was time to turn off the IWB. We had better tools to do the job right in front of us. The first tool was my skill and wide experience as an oral storyteller. The second tool was the children's skill and wide experience as dramatists. The lesson concluded with a rich retelling of the story done by me and the children - and no Smartboard.
This critical incident is often referred to by Robyn and me as a moment where we really questioned if the Smartboard has a place in our personal teaching toolkit. The 'Good Shepherd' lesson revealed that the Smartboard can snuggle in alongside by existing tools, and that my oral storytelling and drama tools are not to be forgotten in favour of shiny new technology.