Friday, 20 February 2009

Whiteboard Room

The Plasma Screen & Whiteboard Room is a free website where teachers in special schools can download teaching resources, created by other teachers, that they can use on their plasma screens, interactive whiteboards, etc. All the resources have been created by teachers and are free to use for educational purposes.

The site provides a mix of PowerPoint and Smart Notebook files as well as web links and a few Word documents. There are some really nice big books and lesson starter activities. Most National Curriculum subjects are covered. Like most of my favourite sites it's free!

whiteboardroom

The site is aimed at SEN teachers, but most primary teachers will find useful resources here that they could adapt or adopt. If you have some of your own resources to share, the site will also accept your resources to share with other teachers.

It's a great resource, and I strongly suggest you check it out today at http://www.whiteboardroom.org.uk/

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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

SMART adds "touch recognition" to SMART Boards

According to this post on Engadget, SMART are releasing an upgrade to their boards that allows them to distinguish between a pen, a finger and the side of your hand.

Touching the board with a pen will write, your finger will move things, and your hand will erase.

I don't know yet if this is only on new boards, or is a firmware upgrade for all (or recent) Smartboards. I also don't know how this will affect people who have become used to using different pointers on the board (such as paintbrushes)



I can't find any info about this on the Smart website, but if I hear anything I'll post it here. Likewise if you know about it let me know too!

Update. This is now on the Smart Website. All Series 600 boards will come with Touch Recognition. An older 600 series board or a second- or third-generation 600i board can be upgraded by replacing its SC9 controller with a new SC9 controller from SMART. Only the SMART Board 600 series can be upgraded, and Touch Recognition cannot be activated on a first-generation 600i . More here.

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

SMARTboard Lessons Podcast

I was really excited the other week to get a Twitter message from Ben Hazzard who runs the rather excellent SMARTboard Lessons Podcast. He asked me if I'd be interested in making a short report from the BETT exhibition for a future podcast they were doing.

And so I did.

I recorded a 5 min piece about some of the things that caught my eye at BETT. The script of which pretty much became this blog post with all the links.

The podcast went live today on http://pdtogo.com/smart/ I appear about 25 minutes into the podcast, but listen to the whole thing - it's really great.

I need to work on my radio voice though :)

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Friday, 30 January 2009

Senteo 2 video tutorials

If you use the Smart Senteo voting kits then you may already know about the brand new version of the Senteo 2 software. If not, you can download it for free here.

When I installed it I had a few issues. I think this was because I tried to install it over the top of the old Senteo and Smart Notbook install. I found I had to completely uninstall Smart 10 and Senteo v1, and then install Senteo v2 and it all worked fine. That may not be the case when you install it, but be aware.

To accompany the new version of Senteo 2, Smart have updated their training guides with some new printable guides and also 2 minute video tutorials. Follow the links below;

Printable Senteo 2 Guides

2 Minute Video Tutorials

If you haven't been to the Training section of the Smart website before it's well worth a visit.

Don't forget you can also ask for help and support on Smartboards and Senteo kits in the Smart Exchange forum; http://exchange.smarttech.com/forums/

Happy voting!

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Tuesday, 28 October 2008

More halloween links

On the subject of halloween resources - a quick plug for two great posts by Jim Hollis over at Teachers Love Smartboards;

The Halloween Search

Smartboard Halloween Activities

Enjoy!

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Thursday, 16 October 2008

Halloween update

As a follow-on from the Halloween post, I got a comment from a chap from TeqSmart promoting their halloween word bucket for Smartboards. It's a flash game similar to the Lesson Toolkit which if you open it will put itself straight into your My Content area.

Taking a look around the rest of the site, there are some useful resources for Smart Notebook users to download. It's well worth taking a look at the site; http://community.teqsmart.org/download.php

Oh and nothing to do with whiteboards, although personally I think it's a nice scary thing for halloween, check out http://www.palinaspresident.us/ :)

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Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Halloween Resources

If you are looking for some Halloween resources to use on your Promethean board, then take a look at the Promethean Planet website.

They have a Halloween resource pack that contains spooky backgrounds and images. It also contains some game template pages for adding a halloween theme to some lesson plenary activities such as Pictionary, Hot Seat and Tic Tac Toe.

Smartboard users might like to check out this nice Halloween Ghost Countdown made by Jim over at Teachers Love Smartboards.

It's at this time of year that I like to promote my Halloween Memory Game that some students may like to play on the IWB. You can find it here.

And not IWB related, but check out this amazing Cylon Jack-o-Lantern :) Amazing stuff.

Red Eye

Have a good Halloween!

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Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Smartboard Tutorial - Themes

Here's another video about a new feature of Smart Notebook 10 - Themes.

With themes, it is possible to set up page templates - with the font size and style that you want, along with any colour schemes, images and watermarks.

Themes could be useful for title pages, Lesson objectives and suchlike.


Whiteboard Tutorial - Themes from Danny Nicholson on Vimeo.

It is worthwhile also thinking about what pages you use a lot - and adding those pages to the My Content area of the gallery. I have done this with graph axes, experimental results grids, lesson objectives. To do this, from the page sorter, select a page and click on the little grey box with the arrow in it - and choose Add page to gallery. You can do a similar thing with Promethean software too.

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Friday, 1 August 2008

Smart Notebook 10 Activation

I know that people are still having issues upgrading to Smart Notebook 10, so here's a quick post to explain how to do it.

For those of you who want to upgrade to Smart Notebook 10, the download process is a little more complicated than it used to be. You can't just download the Smart software and promise them that you are a valid Smart user anymore. You need to prove it by having a Smart product serial number.

Annoyingly you can't just use that serial number to activate the Smart software. You need to go to a website, use the serial number to have them send you a product key. Then you can use the product key to activate the Smart Notebook software.

In a nutshell you install a 30 day trial, then you need to activate it so it becomes a full version. If you don't activate it, then it stops working after 30 days.

You can read more about the process here: http://www2.smarttech.com/kbdoc/124761

The Process

First you should get yourself a product Key. So go to this page:

http://smarttech.com/nb10productkey/

On this page you need to know your Smart product serial number. This will be on the side or on the bottom of the smart board or on the back of your Airliner tablet. There's a guide to finding it here

http://smarttech.com/nb10productkey/FindYourSerial.aspx

For those of us on our summer break, you may not be able to do this until you get back to school. Don't panic, you can still install the software and activate it at the end of the 30 day trial.

Once you have entered your serial number, Smart will email you with a product key that you can use. You can use this product key on your classroom computer, but also on your home computer if you want to prepare resources away from the Smartboard.

Next you need to download the smart 10 software go to the software download page

http://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Support/Downloads/SBS/NBSv10WinEval.htm

Download the "trial version" - this version is OK to use, once you have the product key we can activate it and make it work permanently and then install the file that you downloaded

If you did not type the product key during the installation, you can activate Notebook software after the installation.

1. Press the SMART Board icon in the notification area, and then select Welcome to Notebook.

2. Press the Help/Support tab.

3. Press Activate Software and the Software Activation dialog box appears.

4. Follow the on-screen instructions - this is when you will enter your product key that Smart emailed you.

Hope that helps!

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Whiteboard Challenge 2

Here's my second whiteboard challenge. Both Smart and Promethean software lets you alter the transparency of images, and also to make parts of an image completely transparent, which is useful for getting rid of white space around an image.


Whiteboard Challenge- Transparency from Danny Nicholson on Vimeo.

Try some of these out, and use one of them with your class;

Use a slighly transparent image as a watermarked background for a piece of creative writing, then write over the top of it. Maybe a beach scene or an image of a landmark

Overlay one image on top of another - maybe a new and old photograph of a building or a place. Or a Google map overlaid on top of the satellite image. Then fade one out to reveal the other.

In art use a photograph of a landscape - or a portrait photograph - and trace over the top. Then fade out the image to make the tracing easier to see. You could also use the straight line tool and show all the lines of perspective in an image

There are other uses too, see if you can think of any more.

Again, the challenges won't be going live until August 11, but check out the Challenge site for more info.

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Thursday, 31 July 2008

Quick IWB tip - The Zip File Trick

Here's a quick tip that I was reminded of after a question on Twitter today.

Let's say you have a Smart Notebook file or Promethean flipchart which has lots of images in it, and maybe even some embedded flash files. How do you get those resources out to use elsewhere?

Well, if you select the file in your regular file management window you should be able to rename it. Change the bit after the dot of the filename that says .xbk, .nbk, .notebook or .flp and change it to a .zip instead. If you can't see the extension on the end of the filename you may need to change your folder properties since Windows can hide these by default.

Once you have changed the extension to .zip, your computer now thinks it is a zip file. So now open it up inside WinZip or whatever software you use to open zip files with.

You will see a listing of all the assets inside the flipchart/notebook file listed as if this was just another zip file. You may even see an Images folder with all the picture files inside. All you need to do now is select out the images/flash files you want and copy/paste them to another folder.

And that's it. You might want to make a copy of the notebook file before you do this in case you wreck it ;) But it's pretty straightforward.

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Whiteboard Challenge 1

Jess McCulloch asked me to develop some whiteboard challenges for project she is working on. The whole challenge site will be launching on August 11th - so if you want to take part visit the Whiteboard Challenge Wiki and see what you need to do.

This is the first of my Whiteboard Challenges. The infinite cloner is a Smartboard feature, but you can clone objects in Promethean software, or stack a pile of shapes over each other. You can read more about the challenge on its wiki page.


Whiteboard Challenge - Cloning from Danny Nicholson on Vimeo.

The challenge is to investigate how you could use cloning in a lesson resource, and then try it out with a class

How can you use this? Try some of these out.
  • dragging symbols onto weather maps / regular maps
  • Shapes and tessellations - have a square and a triangle - how many different shapes can you make?
  • Dragging labels onto diagrams
  • Fridge Magnet Poetry - clone an array of connecting words
  • counters on board games
There are other uses too, see if you can think of any

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Smartboard Video - Lesson Toolkit

Yesterday was my last day of training for the Summer. I'm off until September 1st. I'll still be doing stuff for the blog and suchlike through much of August.

The last thing I needed to do this term was to film a session with myself and a Smartboard for my Smart Notebook 10 accreditation. A local school let me set up my camcorder and a colleague and myself filmed the necessary footage for Smart.

While I was there, I filmed some extra stuff for this blog, and also for a whiteboard challenge Jess McCulloch is developing (more on that in the future I hope). I'll upload some of these videos over the next few days.

The first video is just a quick demonstration of the Lesson Activity Toolkit which is new to Smart Notebook 10.


IWB Tutorial - Lesson Activity Toolkit from Danny Nicholson on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Senteo Software Update

Senteo users might like to know that Service Pack 4 has been released by Smart which fixes a few issues with Senteo and Smart Notebook. It's a large file since it also includes Smart Notebook (rather than a patch)

To quote Michael on the Smart Exchange forum:

Senteo SP4 includes fixes for Notebook 10 that are needed to address problems in the way Notebook 10 interoperates with Senteo.

3 important things to note with this new version of Senteo software:

1. This version will install Notebook Software as well as Senteo Assessment Software

2. The Software will automatically update itself if it can detect a receiver plugged into the computer. No need to type in messy serial numbers, no need to fumble with the "Find License Code" button in the previous activation process.

3. When Senteo software is activated, Notebook Software 10 is activated as well. Kill 2 birds with one stone.

Although slightly more time consuming because of the larger download, it is recommended that you download the complete Senteo SP4 upgrade package.

You can download it here.

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Monday, 7 July 2008

Senteo Questions

I haven't got round to writing that many question sets for my Senteo just yet, that's a job for the summer once I've got my other writing jobs done.

But, if you are looking for Senteo questions for Primary Science then can I point you in the direction of Mark Warners excellent Teaching Ideas website.

They don't have their own section, so you will need to look in each science page and pick them out, but there's plenty to choose from. The links to the three pages are below:

Life Processes
Materials
Physical Processes

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Smart Exchange UK Area

Just a quick post, the Smart Exchange forum for Smartboard users has now opened up a few more regional forums, one of which is a UK forum.

http://exchange.smarttech.com/forums/74.aspx

If you are a smartboard user from the UK then please pop along and say hello!

There's also a Mid-Atlantic user group and a Texas one. Plus one for Colorado's 21st century classrooms.

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Friday, 20 June 2008

The SMART Teacher Content Challenge

Just to make you aware, if you're not already, of a great competition from Smart:

Show off your lesson development skills with the SMART Teacher Content Challenge. Take the opportunity before July 31, 2008, to send us an innovative and effective lesson that incorporates digital content – you could win a seven-day trip for two or a school subscription to the SMART Learning Marketplace.

And SMART makes entering the challenge easy. We provide you with 30 MB of free digital resources from the Marketplace – find images, video clips, audio files and manipulatives (learning objects) to help you make your lesson great!

Teachers in the US and Canada will win a trip to London to see BETT :)

Teachers in the UK and Ireland will win a trip to Calgary to see Smarts Headquarters.

I've been to Calgary in the past (not to Smart HQ though) and it's a great place. I know which prize I'd prefer ;)

Follow these steps to submit your lesson to the SMART Teacher Content Challenge:

  1. E-mail your name and school details to smartteacher@globalgridforlearning.com. You’ll receive a promo code within 24 hours.
  2. Visit the SMART Learning Marketplace site and enter your promo code
  3. Download your free 30 MB of digital resources
  4. Create a dynamic lesson with your newly acquired images, manipulatives (learning objects) and multimedia files
  5. Write a report about your experiences teaching with the lesson and submit your report and the lesson before July 31, 2008 to www.globalgridforlearning.com/smartteacher.htm
More information can be found here

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Thursday, 1 May 2008

Smart 10 and Tables

Smart Notebook 10 now comes with a tool that a lot of Smartboard users have been wanting for a long time - the ability to make tables. It was always such a pain messing about with lines to draw a table, and it never lined up as easily. The new tables tool makes this so much easier!

The "Insert Table" icon is on the toolbar, next to the Select arrow. Click on it and choose the size of table you wish to add. It's no different to adding a table into Word.

What's nice about the tables is that you can drag images into cells - and the images will automatically resize to fit the cell.

You can merge cells by dragging to select them, then clicking the right mouse button and choosing "Merge Cells". You can also right click in a cell and choose Split - to split one cell into more.

Another interesting tool is the Cell Shade. Right click on a cell and choose "Add Cell Shade". This will add a mini version of the screen shade that just covers one cell. Click on the shade to remove it. This would be good for hiding answers or additional help. You can see the cell shade on a few cells in the image below:

Smart tables

I have produced a quick video about the Smart 10 tables tool. You can view the video here.

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Friday, 25 April 2008

The Magic Pen

One of the small niggles I had with Smart 9 was that there was no spotlight tool on the toolbar in Smart Notebook. I know you could get it via the floating toolbar, but it annoyed me that I couldn't get it quickly in Notebook without having to use workarounds.

So I was really happy when I was first shown a beta of Smart Notebook 10 with the tool called the Magic Pen.

The Magic Pen is brilliant.

If you write with the Magic Pen it stays on the screen for a few seconds and then fades away. This is great for adding quick annotations that you don't want to last - underlining an area on the screen, circling a key point etc.

If you draw a circle on the screen with the Magic Pen then it automatically turns into a Spotlight tool! This is my favourite!

If you draw a rectangle on the screen it will turn into a magnifyer - making an area of the screen larger. Good for making text larger such as web addresses etc.

Here's a quick video that shows how to use the Magic Pen. I made this with the beta but couldn't show them due to the NDA, which is why it talks about being the second video... I can't find part 1!!

http://www.screencast.com/t/WBCypM5Pcn0

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Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Smart Lesson Toolkit

A while back I wrote about the beta version of the Smart Lesson Activity Toolkit, which was a fantastic way of adding interactive elements to your Smart Notebook page.

Well, with the release of Smart Notebook 10, the full version of the Lesson Activity Toolkit has been released.

If you don't yet want to upgrade to version 10, but want the new Lesson Toolkit, then you can download it separately via this page. Installation instructions can be found there too as well as some videos on how to get the most out of it.

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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Smart Notebook 10 Released

Quick blog post as it's late as I've just been watching the season openers for Battlestar Galactica, my favourite show! But I wanted to get the following onto my blog, and will write more another time.

Anyway, The final release version of Smart Notebook 10 is now available for download!

You can download the software and any new drivers here.

Please note that the version on this page is a 30 day trial version, it looks like Smart are taking steps to stop people buying lesser whiteboards and running Smart Notebook on them. Be aware of this before upgrading version 9.7

To activate and get hold of the full version, you will need to know the serial number of your Smartboard (or other Smart product such as an Airliner slate) and visit the registration page. One serial number will do multiple installations - so you can still activate your classroom version and your home version for preparation purposes.

More information about Smart Notebook 10 when I get a chance tomorrow.

Update: Some more information, and a few new demos to watch on the new Smarttech Notebook page at: http://www.smarttech.com/notebook

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Monday, 31 March 2008

Biology on the IWB: 10 Quick Ideas

Here are some quick ideas for using an IWB for Biology teaching.

1. Sequence the stages in Mitosis or Meiosis using images or statements

2. Drag and Drop animals and arrows to create Food Chains and Webs

3. Label diagrams of the various body systems using images captured from the Internet or from the gallery.

4. Investigate genetic crossing using drag and drop punnet squares. In Smart you could use the Infinite Cloner on the B and b, or just stack several letters on top of each other so when you drag one down, the rest remain.

genetic crossing

5. Use the camera to capture pictures from the internet to illustrate a lesson on the dangers of alcohol and smoking. Or use the Inside Body powerpoint presentations from the ASE site as a source of images.

6. Sort foods into 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' foods, then use as basis for a discussion about whether there is actually any such thing as an unhealthy food.

7. Simulate how to use a quadrat before going out into the field using random dots and a square annotation, or the square spotlight tool.

8. Combine the IWB with a digital microscope to demonstrate and label slides as a whole class.

9. Keyword Plenary – pupils choose keywords from a selection, drag them into the middle of the screen and use them to explain one thing they’ve learned from the lesson.

Plenary Circle

10. Use a visualiser (Document camera) when carrying out dissections of the heart or flowers to make it easier for the whole class to see what is going on. Use the camera tool to capture images during the various stages of the dissection and add labels to the images. A cheaper alternative would be to use a webcam clamped to a retort stand

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Smartboard Browser

I just found this post on the Smart Exchange forum by Quentin D'Souza of teachinghacks.com. He has written a fab little flash tool that you can add to a Smart Notebook page which will let you browse the internet within Notebook itself.

You can add it to the My Content area of your Gallery, and drag it onto a page whenever you want to use it. It's PC only for now, see the note from JoeS about it not working properly on Macs.

The instructions to use it are as follows:

a) To Bring Into Notebook
  1. Right-Click on http://www.teachinghacks.com/files/Browser.swf and select 'Save Target As" and place on your desktop
  2. Open up Smart Notebook
  3. In Notebook - Select from Insert Menu "Flash File" and then locate the "Browser.swf" on your desktop
  4. Drag the SWF in your Notebook file to your Gallery.

b) To Use:

  1. Click on the Browser to Activate it
  2. Enter the url and select enter.
  3. Default Web Browser Opens to the Web Page You Entered.
Thanks Quentin for sharing this!

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Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Science Notebook Files

Two years ago I produced a pack of Smart Notebook files for Steljes, the distributors of Smartboards over here in the UK. They formed part of a teachers pack that was distributed to schools around the UK.

The files were also available via the Steljes Software site. For now, that site is no longer up, and the files are no longer available online.

cells

I have copied the files onto my Think Bank website so that Smartboard users can still access them. Each file has a corresponding teachers' guide in pdf format.

The six lesson packs cover the following topics:
  • The Blast Furnace (KS4)
  • Cells (KS3)
  • Forces (KS3)
  • Metals (Ks3)
  • Muscles and Joints (KS4)
  • Reflection and Refraction (KS4)
To download the files, and the corresponding teachers guide, click here.

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Monday, 17 March 2008

Smartboard Spotlight

James Hollis over at Teachers Love Smartboards has posted a link to a great video about how to use the Spotlight tool in Smart Notebook.

I love the Smartboard tool, its a very fun tool for focusing attention on one part of the screen and removing any distractions.

I commented on James' post about how you can access the spotlight without being attached to the board, but I thought it was worth posting it here too.

Basically on your computer go to the C:/ drive and Program Files.. look for a folder called Smart Technologies Inc, open it and then open a folder called Smart Board Software... in here will be a file called Spotlight.exe.

Copy this file to your desktop, or make a shortcut to it and put that on your desktop. Then all you need to do is run this file/shortcut to run the spotlight on your desktop.

Cool eh?

It's a shame that the spotlight tool isn't on the toolbar of Smart Notebook. You can access it via the Floating Toolbar though (if you customise it a little). I can't wait for version 10 to come out which, if you've seen the videos Smart released, has a Magic Pen tool that will create a spotlight wherever you draw a circle... which is just fantastic (OK, I am easily pleased!)

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Thursday, 14 February 2008

A quick starter idea - Countdown Clock

Here's a quick idea for a lesson starter/plenary. The idea is to give the students 5 quickfire questions and a set, short, time limit to answer each one.

The way you can do this will be slightly different whether you have a Smartboard or an ActivBoard

Promethean Version

1. On page 1 write/type your first question.
2. Put another question on page 2, 3, 4 etc
3. Go back to page 1
4. Click on the Clock icon from the ActivStudio toolbar. Select Count Ddown from the list.
5. Set the time you want each question to be shown. In the example below I have chosen 30 seconds.
6. You can set a sound to play at the end of each time limit. Click on the drop down arrow to choose a different sound.
7. In the second drop down, choose "Turn to next page".
8. Make sure the Repeat box is checked. This will make the clock work on every slide rather than just the first one.
9. Then click OK

Countdown

What will happen is that the first question will be displayed and the clock will start counting down. When it reaches zero, the sound will play and ActivStudio will immediately turn to the second question. This will repeat for all the questions you have written.

SmartBoard version

Smart Notebook does have a countdown timer, but it does not turn the pages automatically.

You can find the timer in the gallery in several places. Check under - Essentials for Educators - Mathematics - General Resources - Tools. Drag the timer from the gallery onto your 5 question pages.

Set each clock to Count Down and set the time to 30 seconds.

Once the clock has counted down, move to the next page. You will have to do this manually.

Quick Tips

Smart Quick Tip #1 - If you use the Timer a lot, it is well worth dragging it into your My Content area of the gallery so you can find it quicker.

Smart Quick Tip #2 - You can search the gallery by keyword. So a quick way to find the timer would be to type the word Timer into the search box at the top of the gallery. All the items that have a keyword of Timer will be returned in the search.

General Tip #1 - If you want to set up the questions during a lesson and you do not want the students to see them before you are ready, You can use the Blank or the Freeze button on the remote control to hide what you are doing until you are ready.

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Monday, 28 January 2008

Equation Balancer

I've produced a new Smart Notebook file to help with balancing equations.

The atoms at the top have been infinitely cloned so you can drag down as many as you require to show how many atoms there are on both sides of the equation. The arrow and plus sign can also be cloned.

balanced equation

You can download the file from the Think Bank website here. Look in the chemistry section.

I'll make versions for other boards soon. I did try making a Lynx version to test the software, but it kept crashing every 2 minutes so I gave up in frustration.

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Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Rub and Reveal

Here's a quick idea for using an interactive whiteboard. It could be a lesson starter, or form part of a plenary or could just be used throughout the lesson as a quick check on what the students have learnt so far.

This is something that always goes down well when I demonstrate it in training sessions as it is so quick and easy to do, but can be used in a range of different ways.

Watch the video here.

How do you do this?

1. Use the text tool to type some text on the notebook page
2. Use the pen tool to draw over the top of the text to hide it (you may want to make the pen thick and match the colour to the background)
3. When you are ready to reveal the writing, click on the Eraser tool and rub out the pen to reveal the text hiding behind it.

Rub and Reveal

Another way of hiding the text could be using shapes to hide the text which can then be moved away or deleted when you want to reveal the word.

How might you use this?

This could be used as the example in the video for hiding labels on a diagram, getting the students to label it, and then revealing the correct answer.

It could also be used to hide the answers to questions given to the students on the screen.

A photograph could be completely covered in black pen, and then the eraser used to gradually reveal parts of the photograph, asking the students at different stages what they can see and what they can infer from what they see.

This is also a quick way of producing missing words activities - type or copy/paste in a block of text and instead of having to go through and delete the missing words and add spaces, just cover each word you want to take out with white pen. It's also easier to reveal the correct answer too.

if you want the Smart Notebook file with the above example of labelling David Beckham in French, then click here to download it.

(Footnote: apologies to any readers from across the sea if I keep calling it the rubber tool on the video. I try to call it the eraser, but over here we call it the rubber. I do know that word has different connotations over where, but just put it down to English eccentricity and go with it!)

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Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Pictogram and Jing

This was my first attempt at using a piece of software called Jing to record a mini-tutorial. The software worked pretty well and was quite painless. There's not many features, it records an area you choose and you can have a microphone on or off. That's it. But it's simple enough for me. it gives you a free video hosting account with Screencast to host the video on, or you can choose to save it and host it yourself.

It also takes screenshots, and the pics in the Art Attack post below were taken and automatically uploaded to Flickr using Jing.

Anyway, the best way of getting a feel for a piece of software is to use it in anger so I've made a tutorial that shows how you can very simply set up Smart Notebook to create a pictogram using the Infinite Cloner tool. I love using the Infinite Cloner for things like arrows to label diagrams and suchlike. Every time you click on an item it will be copied over and over again. it's great to do with images of coins for shopping tasks - drag out the coins to pay for an item that costs £1.63 or whatever.

One issue with Jing is that it seems to render the video actual size. So capturing a 800x800 area still produces a 800x800 video with no options (that I can see) to scale it down. Obviously putting that size video in my blog would totally bork the layout. So I'll just link to the video for now. I don't know if I am missing an option somewhere, so I'll have a play.

Until then click here to view the video.

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Smart 10 Beta released

Looks like they've finally released the Beta version of Smart Notebook 10. The placeholder download page now seems to work and I managed to download something ;)

Haven't installed it yet. As far as I know it won't run alongside Smart 9 so I will have to remove the old version. I may try it out on an older laptop first to avoid messing up my desktop.

Visit the download page here.

The Notebook software 10 beta version is available until February 29, 2008, so you have plenty of time to get hold of a copy and evaluate it. Don't forget to send your feedback to Smart via the feedback forms to help polish the final release.

If you are going to download this, please be careful. This is a beta version and so will still contain bugs and will probably crash and freeze on you. You can't install it on the same computer as your Smart 9.5 install without taking the old version off first. Files made with the new version will probably not be able to be opened with 9.5.

I would suggest you install this on a different computer to your main PC that you usually use on the SmartBoard or use for lesson preparation. Only install if you are keen to play with the new features or want to help with the testing of it. Don't expect it to be release-ready.

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Art Attack

The other day James, over at Teachers Love Smart Boards, linked to a great online drawing package called Imagination Cubed. Basically its a drawing program that runs in your browser. This is great as it can be used on any brand of IWB irrespective of the software you use on your board.

I'm a scientist, not an artist but I've always enjoyed using art packages on the IWB. I used to play with packages like Painter and Photoshop. Drawing with a mouse, or even a graphics tablet, is a real pain and it is so much easier to be able to paint with my fingers! After all an IWB is only really a HUGE graphics tablet!

A quick trawl around the web led me to a few other interesting drawing packages. There are a lot of them out there covering a range of painting styles. And the best thing is they are free! I love Photoshop but it is rather pricey!

A really nice one is Brushter, which is an abstract painting package. You can choose from a wide range of brush styles and different paint effects. Autocolour chooses a different colour paint each time, which should sound annoying but actually can give a nice abstract effect. You can even click an Auto button and have Brushter generate an abstract image on its own while you watch! Here's a little something I knocked up:

2008-01-09_0817

Another one I quite liked is ArtPad. It's much simpler than Brushter and only gives one style of paintbrush. You can choose colours, size and opacity though. Like Imagination cubed you can replay your painting from start to finish.

Art.com

Finally, there is the much simpler online Colouring-in pages at TheKidszPage.com. You can choose from a range of different line drawings to then colour in. Again this is not as powerful as the Brushter one, but foundation pupils will love colouring in the pictures with their fingers!

KidsPage Colouring

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Sunday, 9 December 2007

Smart Activity Toolkit

The Smart Activity Toolkit has been available in Beta for a while now, but I am constantly meeting people who haven't heard of it.

For those who haven't seen it, its a bank of Flash-based widgets that are placed in your Smart Gallery. These widgets can be dragged onto your Smart Notebook page and then adapted to make your own interactive resources.

These include drag and drop labelling tasks, games of Hangman (or splat the teacher), sorting activities etc. Each one can be edited and the changes saved within the Notebook file.

You can download the Toolkit Beta from the Smart website here. And keep an eye out for the full release next year which has even more new features.

I must admit I haven't got many examples of its use on my own website, I must sit down sometime and produce some sample files. But Jim Birney of Fife Education has some good examples for Science on his site.

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Friday, 7 December 2007

Smart Exchange Launched

Sounds like Smart are revamping their community areas with the launch of Smart Exchange. I always found that this was something Promethean always did better with their Promethean World / Promethean Planet sites.. The official Smart community always felt a little nebulous and the edcompass forum felt rather empty the few times I popped in there.

To quote the press release:

"SMART Technologies announces the launch of SMART Exchange, a new online community that will help educators around the world share information, connect with colleagues and collaborate on various topics, regardless of distance or time zones. SMART Exchange goes beyond a text-based forum and gives members access to an events calendar, photo gallery and resource downloads. The community provides a central space for sharing teaching ideas and best practices, posting tips and connecting with SMART experts. It also offers a variety of tools, information and resources that teachers can use to create engaging and interactive learning environments."

You can access Smart Exchange here http://exchange.smarttech.com/

Full press release here.

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