Smart Boards

In this webcast, Wendy Buckley summarizes various tools and software that can be used with a SMART Board and describes how they work.

Wendy Buckley is a computer teacher/specialist within the Deafblind Program at Perkins. She is also adjunct faculty at UMass Boston where she co-teaches braille courses for both the TVI and O&M Programs.

In this presentation Wendy discusses Smart Boards. Smart Boards, interactive white boards, are a presentation system consisting of a whiteboard, computer, projector and tools. This presentation offers an overview of various tools that can be used with a Smart Board. These include free web resources, commercially available software and alternative access devices for both a keyboard and a mouse. Extensive resource lists are included.

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Learn more about SMART Boards in an interview with Wendy Buckley »

Download handout: Interactive White Boards and Assistive Technology for Early Learners »

Presented by Wendy Buckley

Length of time to complete: approximately 30 minutes


  1. Interactive White Boards and Assistive Technology for Early Learners
  2. Notebook Software
  3. Smart Boards: Free Websites
  4. Free Websites: SENSwitcher
  5. Free Websites: Star Fall
  6. Free Websites: Tar Heel Reader
  7. Free Websites: BBC Schools
  8. Free Websites: The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
  9. Smartboard Software
  10. Software: For Smart Boards and Beyond
  11. Closing Thoughts

CHAPTER 1: Interactive White Boards and Assistive Technology for Early Learners

BUCKLEY: If you’re not familiar with an interactive whiteboard, it is a presentation system that is connected to the computer. And it consists of a whiteboard, which is the big board, a computer — many schools have a hook-up for a laptop; I’m using a desktop, so there’s no requirement either way, as long as it’s a working computer with a video output—and a projector, and then some special tools that get installed. Depending on what system you’re using, there will be tools that will go along with that that are installed.

Interactive White Boards and Assistive Technology for Early Learners with Wendy Buckley.The software that comes with your whiteboard will be specific to the brand of whiteboard, so we are using a SMART Board, and so we have SMART Notebook. That’s the name of the software that works with it. Whiteboards also work with standard, off-the-shelf software and they work with websites, so really, anything that you can run on your computer. Just think of it as a giant computer screen, the difference being that you can actually interact with it. You have ways of interacting with it.

So what we’re going to do today is look at how some of those programs work, and I’m going to be switching between the PowerPoint presentation and showing some examples. I also say this every time I do a presentation on technology: if it can fail, it will today during this one hour, so just be prepared. There may or may not be a moment when we need to reboot. We’ll just go with the flow and everything will be fine.

So the first piece of software we’re going to look at is the Notebook software, and Notebook software is the software that comes specifically with the SMART Board. And it’s basically an authoring tool. So basically a blank piece of paper as a screen that we can do whatever we need to do with. So I’m going to use my mouse for a minute, just to set it up.

A few things about the SMART Board: this particular one comes with a set of markers, and these markers really don’t have any marking to them — they’re just styluses that are color coded — but as soon as I pick up one of my markers, I can then write on the board. So if I pick up a blue marker, I can write in blue, if I pick up a green marker, I can write in green. If I can’t hold a pencil — and this is one reason why we chose the SMART Board over some others — if I can’t hold a pencil, but I can hold… I can write with my finger. Or if I can’t use my finger, but maybe I can hold something like this toy, as long as it’s something, I can write with it.

It also doesn’t have to be that if I pick up the green marker, if my students come in and move the markers all around — so I have green, red, blue, and black — it’s really not the color that I’ve picked up, it’s the location. So this marker happens to be in the blue location, so I’m going to be writing in blue no matter what.

Another really nice feature for many of our students is handwriting recognition. So if I write on the SMART Board in my best handwriting, I can then see if it will get recognized, if it will be recognized, and then I have some nice, really clear handwriting. Look at Rob. He’s just like… (laughing) One for every classroom. And then I can work with that text and I can move it around. So there’s a lot of really nice features that work well for many of our students.

The other thing about this particular installation is we have lots of different kids who come for class in this room, so we have preschoolers, we have high schoolers, we have middle schoolers, so one of the things that we did was we asked for the installation that’s mounted, that’s adjustable. So depending on who the kids are, it’s always going to be at a good level for them, whether we have kids in wheelchairs or kids who are standing or, you know, big or tall, or whatever. So those are some of the really nice options.

CHAPTER 2: Notebook Software

BUCKLEY: So what we’re going to look at is just a few of the activities that some of our kids do or have done. So again, looking at the Notebook software, one of the activities for one of our younger groups was for the children to introduce themselves. And so they were introducing themselves to the little group by answering questions, and these are maybe non-readers, kids that are between reading and using symbols.

One of the activities that some of the kids do or have done using the Notebook software.So basically, we would start out with their name. They had to find their name and then they would be asked a question: “What’s your favorite class?” And they could answer the question by taking their name and putting it next to the symbol of the class that they enjoy the most.

“What’s your favorite color?”

Just as some examples, “What’s your favorite month?” And for the students to be able to find their name and then bring it to their answer, where maybe they haven’t yet developed handwriting skills or maybe they’re not signing yet. Maybe they’re using symbols. So this is a nice way that we can design activities that work well for them. I’m going to go between using a mouse and using the SMART Board. So that was one group that introduced themselves.

Then, of course, we had another group who were a little bit older. Let’s open this one. All right, well, we’ll just have to close it. Sorry about that. That’s the technology taking its time. All right. So the other activity that we’re going to open is kids who were a little bit older who were introducing themselves in a different way.

So for this group, they do have some handwriting skills and they, again, were answering questions about, “What are your,” you know, “what’s your favorite movie?” “What’s your favorite activity?” “What’s your favorite month?” “What’s your favorite vacation?” But they really got into the handwriting recognition feature of the whiteboard, and so one of the results of that was sort of a little competition amongst each other for who could really try and write more clearly. And as you can see, every time that they answered a question, their handwriting just got a little bit more clear. So that was a really nice thing to see out of the activity. It wasn’t the intention of the activity, but that was one of the results.

Conjunctions activities in the  Notebook.Just a few more examples. So this is Notebook software, and we can use it for activities that the teacher designs, but we can also use it for activities that are more like worksheets on any level or any kind of subject area. So we had a group of students who was learning about conjunctions. So here’s the lesson that we were doing, and we had a number of different kinds of activities, using the tools of the SMART Board.

So one of the tools that comes with it is sort of a random generator, whether it’s a random picture, a random word, random sentences, so everybody could take a turn clicking on the button to randomly select, and then whatever word came up, the student — whoever’s turn it was — then had to use it in a sentence or make a sentence with it or explain how it was used.

So there’s lots of interactive tools that come with it that we can use. So those are just a few examples of the SMART Board Notebook software that comes with it. It’s an authoring program, but also on the Internet, lots and lots of schools are using SMART Boards and people have posted activities that they’ve created, so teachers are downloading those activities and maybe just, you know, tailoring them a little bit more to their own students.

CHAPTER 3: Free Websites

BUCKLEY: We’ve looked at Notebook software, and now the next thing we’re going to look at is some activities that are online. There are lots of online websites that are free that have wonderful activities that work well with either just a standard computer or with a whiteboard. So we’re going to look at some activities for cause and effect, targeting, early literacy, and early numeracy.

Help Kidz Learn, a free website from Inclusive TLC where they make software for kids with visual impairment. The first website is called “Help Kidz Learn,” and this… the PowerPoint will be posted on the Discover website, so don’t worry about writing it down because this is why I wrote it out this way, so that when you get this PowerPoint, you’ll have the exact Web address. You won’t have to, you know, make sure that… that you wrote it down correctly.

So it’s called “Help Kidz Learn,” and it’s from a company called Inclusive TLC, and they make a ton of software that works so well with kids who have a visual impairment. They really understand what we need for software and they design it very well for our kids.

So what they’ve done is they’ve created a Web site that has snippets of some of their programs, and it’s a clever strategy, because it’s great advertisement for their software, but it’s also… you get to try it out before you buy it and there’s enough of the activity there that you really can use it without ever actually getting the software. So they’re pretty much abbreviated activities of some of their programs.

So let’s just look at this… look at the Web site. So “Help Kidz Learn” has a “parents” tab, a “find out” tab, “creative” tab, “stories,” and “games.” And we’ll just look through. They have quite a few different kinds of activities. So let’s just look at “stories,” and we can scroll down and see that all of these are pieces or snippets of programs that they sell commercially.

So for example, let’s play this game called “Flippers and Fins,” which comes from a series called… what’s it called? “SwitchIt!”… not “SwitchIt! Transport.” “SwitchIt! Animals,” I think is what it comes from. So I have to close my ink layer. And it’s basically a wordless story, which works quite well for many of our kids. Works with a switch. So something, some kind of animation will happen on the screen, and then when the student hits the switch, they can go to the next part of the story.

An example of a game that interacts with the webpage where the students label things. That’s great for using it on the computer, but if, in fact, we wanted to use it on the whiteboard, one of the things that we could do then is interact with the webpage; maybe have the students label things. Look at Rob’s face. So here’s the fish and here’s the man. We could have kids take turns. Maybe they’re going to label things. So kids of different ages and abilities that may be working together in a group, one child may be at the level of using the switch, but maybe has a partner who’s working on spelling some words or learning how to write with a pencil or, you know, learning their letters.

So anyway, that’s using the power of the interactive whiteboard along with some online activities. And one of the features of the SMART Board, and I’m sure this is true of other interactive whiteboards, is that it is also then possible for us to save this and put it into that Notebook file and come back to it later and talk about it. So if I said I wanted to save it, it will now take a picture of this and it will put it into that Notebook file, and then we can come back at another time and talk about what we did, what we learned, and we can talk about who answered what question and what they were doing. So we’ll close the ink layer and we’ll keep playing the game. And so each time I hit my switch, I will see something else happen. Go to the next page. So again, this kind of Web site, I can have my students write a story about it, we can talk about it, if we’re just at a single-word level, we can make the signs, we can talk about really, all kinds of things, because it’s just an open book for us to work with.

So that’s just one game on this “Help Kidz Learn” website. If we go to “games”… so remember, there’s five tabs up here that’s just full of activities. So on the “games,” we have a game that’s about which animal doesn’t belong or which one is different. So this game is an example of the software program that this company makes called “ChooseIt! Maker.” And “ChooseIt! Maker” is, again, it’s an authoring tool where you can add your own pictures or words or both and make activities, very simple activities, where you choose from two, three, four, or six items. You can add speech and you can add a sound kind of reward.


BUCKLEY: So this company is based in the U.K. A lot of their… (laughter) …but it’s great to listen to their accent. So again, find which one doesn’t belong or find the odd one out and then we have to find whichever one that is and we get a little reward. So again, it’s giving us a chance to try out this program, “ChooseIt! Maker,” before we decide if we want to make it… buy it. And it gives enough of the activity to really get a sense of what it’s all about. Some of the ways of using it if I weren’t using the touch-screen or the interactive whiteboard and I were using a mouse, notice as I cycle through, or maybe just as the teacher, if I have a group, I can cycle through and focus on each one with the highlighter. (duck quacking)

BUCKLEY: It’s making the sound, exactly. (duck quacking) (cow mooing)

BUCKLEY: Yeah, so I can figure it out that way, exactly. So that’s just, again, one more example. Let’s look under “creative.” And again…

WOMAN: What happens with switches, as well? Would it cycle through?

BUCKLEY: It would work with… the program itself works with switches. I’m not sure if the website is that sophisticated that it’s set up for your switches as much as it’s set up for direct interaction with the mouse. But the program itself, if you were to purchase it, it does work for scanning with switches. So they also have, you know, an online jigsaw puzzle with small pieces… not small pieces, small number of pieces. You know, painting, coloring books, here’s a giant piano, and this is, again, something that’s really fun for the whiteboard… for working with a group. I always like to make the program fill the screen, and… (piano playing) …so we can just play some music together. (piano playing) I’m not musical, so I’m not going to keep going with that, but those of you who are could, you know, probably come up and do a little bit of a better concert than I can.

“Find out,” another tab that they have. So they have a giant calculator or a talking clock, buying… going through a supermarket and buying things. It’s really just an endless number of activities that are available, and this is just one website and it’s all free. It’s one of my favorite websites to use not only with the SMART Board, but just with kids, you know, at the computer. Okay, so that’s one, and that is “Help Kidz Learn.”

CHAPTER 4: Free Websites: SENSwitcher

BUCKLEY: The next one is another one from the U.K., and this one is really good for early cause and effect, where kids are just learning to look at patterns or images. And this one is called “SENSwitcher.” Again, you can run it online or you can download it to your computer and it’s a free website.

Free Website: SENSwitcher from the U.K., where kids are learning to look at patterns or images.So we’ll just run it online, and there are… we can start where it’s experiential, where we don’t have to do anything, we can just watch. We can have an activity that just requires us to press the switch one time and something will happen. We can move up to three presses, five presses of the switch to complete the pattern or the picture, targeting — where we have to actually locate and find the image — up to scanning for kids who are learning to scan for a picture. So we’ll just try one that’s easier.

We’ll do a three-press pattern. And it has the option for setting whatever options work best for your student. So for example, maybe we would like a yellow background with black images, and so we’re going to get these pictures and patterns in black on yellow. Or you know, maybe we want the foreground to be purple and the background to be blue, or you know, whatever combination works well for our students, we get to set that.

We also get to set if we want the activity to present each of these patterns in this order, or maybe we don’t want all of these. Maybe just a couple, so we can even select out which ones we don’t want to have happen. And how long the pattern will be animated once we hit the switch. So to come back to this screen, it reminds us we’ll need to press the “M” on the keyboard, and then it gives us the controls to quit, and so we can just go ahead and play. So here’s our blank screen, and when we hit our switch we’re going to get our pattern.

So remember, I picked three presses to get the pattern. And there are sound effects that go along with it. (bass notes playing) And then the next one will come up. So this is great for, again, very young kids, very early cause and effect, you know, visual focusing, whatever works well for your particular students. I’m going to hit “M” to get back to the menu. I can make some adjustments if I need to, or I can simply say, “We’re done with that and we’re going to quit.”

So under “cause and effect,” they’ve got activities for all ages. They have, you know, the “Singing Moose,” they have “Toy Story” and “Bob the Builder,” and you know, so stuff for little kids and stuff for older kids too, and they’re all switch activities and/or they work with the touch screen. So the list is really quite long. As you can see, it goes on forever. And we’re going to look at a few of those things in a second. So that’s just “cause and effect.”

Then under “interactive storybooks,” they also have a section… again, they don’t have as many, but they have, you know, a nice little variety, and those are interactive talking books. So let’s just look at one of their… or a couple of their activities.

So here’s our fish and our man. It took it and it put it into my open Notebook if I wanted to use that with my lesson. I’m not going to save it, though. So now, this is possibly when my computer will crash, but we’ll do our best. So here’s one. This is from Priory Woods School, and we can use it either with a switch or with a touch screen. So we’re going to pick “touch screen” for our interactive whiteboard. So because I picked “touch screen,” it’s putting the big red frame around it to help me focus right where that guy is.

(“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens playing)

And as soon as I touch it… (laughter) Then, you know. And it’s fun. It’s interesting. It’ll go for a little while now. But you know, there is some humor to it, but there’s also music that kids of all ages would enjoy, whether it’s the little kids or something that, you know, older kids would enjoy a little more. I just have to wait here. I knew you’d like that one. So you can download it to your computer.

(“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens playing)

I’ve got to turn it off. Sorry, I have to turn it off. (laughter) But I downloaded that to my computer, and then I can just run it from my computer, so that’s fabulous.

Just a little more… this one’s a little different.

(“I Like to Move It” by Sacha Baron Cohen playing )

One of the examples of Interactive storybooks on Madagascar.So everybody likes… a lot of kids like “Madagascar.” Again, I can use the switch or the touch screen, and again, it’s a kind of a targeting activity but cause and effect. So as soon as I hit this guy, I get some action.

(“I Like to Move It” by Sacha Baron Cohen playing)

And what a great way for my kids to just get that immediate reinforcement. Their focus is going to be on the screen, and maybe, you know, they’re just getting lots of fun stuff. So those are just a few examples. And then from there, a collection of interactive story programs. We have the…

WOMAN’S VOICE: There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

BUCKLEY: So we have “The Old Lady Who Swallowed the Fly”…

WOMAN’S VOICE: There was an old lady who swallowed a…

BUCKLEY: Now, what did she swallow? Was it the tree? Oops, it wasn’t the tree. So it was the…


BUCKLEY: So again, works great with a touch screen. We could use it with a mouse as well, but it, you know, it’s great for the whiteboard. So now we can either choose to sing the song or we can go to the next page, and as we go through, we’ll see all of the little things get stuck where she swallows them. Again, if I pick the wrong answer, it won’t take it. As soon as I pick the correct answer, it goes into her stomach. So it might be something where we’ve read the story already, and now we’re seeing how much did we comprehend, what do we remember, what came next? Maybe we’re just going to do… we haven’t read the story and we’re predicting what might happen, so there’s lots of applications for this. We also have the words so we can work on learning and understanding the text, and then for kids who are working just with pictures or symbols, we have that as an option as well.

So I think you maybe know the rest of the story. We won’t stick with it. Or maybe we will, because now… no. There we go. Okay, so those are from… all of that is just from the Priory Woods site. Now we have to get back to where we were. So that’s Priory Woods School in the U.K., and they really have some wonderful activities that are free to download. Most of their stuff is for PC, although they do have some of their activities work on Mac, not all of them. And it will say, “Download for PC; Mac not available,” or “Download for both.” It’ll give you that option.

WOMAN: Will the SMART Board work with both a PC and a Mac?

BUCKLEY: Absolutely, absolutely. The SMART Board works with both. In fact, the computer that it’s connected to right now is a Mac, but we’re running it with Boot Camp, so it’s running as a PC today, but you know, we switch back and forth between the Mac and the PC. And I think that’s true of most of them, because really, it’s a giant… it’s a replacement for the monitor.

And while we’re talking about that, you know, for some kids who have low vision, if they’re in a big classroom, one of the options, then, is to hook up a monitor, because you can take a video and split the video signal so that the child who maybe has a little difficulty seeing from a distance can see right what’s going on in the monitor, and I have things in the way here, but the monitor will work at the same time so the child can sit close enough to a large monitor, follow what’s happening, and then maybe, when it’s his or her turn, go up to the board and interact, but they’ll be able to see whatever’s happening on the monitor. And you’re not just restricted to one monitor. It depends on what type of video splitter you get. But if you think about when you go into a place where there are multiple screens and they’re broadcasting something, that’s really just the video signal being split multiple times, so that makes it work well for kids who need to be up close.

CHAPTER 5: Free Websites: Star Fall

Star Fall, a website that targets early literacy activities.BUCKLEY: So another website that targets early literacy activities is Star Fall, and we have on Star Fall, we have ABC’s, then we have some beginning stories, some stories that are a little bit more advanced, up to, you know, some stories that have quite a bit of text. But we’ll just look at the ABC’s.

Again, a pretty really very rich website for activities around the alphabet, and it works well with, again, kids that need a limited presentation on the screen — not a lot of clutter, not a lot of things in the way. So we’ll just look at, you know, we’ll just pick one letter. And…


BUCKLEY: For every letter of the alphabet, there is some kind of an animated sequence that goes along with it. Again, the letters are nice and big, there’s not a lot of background clutter, so these are a lot of features that work well with our students. One of the benefits is kids learning to navigate, learning to navigate through screens, and I’ve found that most of my students who we’ve used the Star Fall with, they then start to look for, “How do I get to the next page?” and lots of programs have that. They have an arrow or a pointer or something, so they learn to use that. So just as an example, I picked the letter “G,” and now we’ll go through a sequence of things that start with “G.” So I have to find the letter and…


BUCKLEY: touch it or click on it with my mouse.

CHILD’S VOICE: I am a girl.

BUCKLEY: I then see the word in some kind of a sentence. I can repeat it if I’d like, or go to the next. Again, I get to look at the picture. I could sit here with the picture on the screen for, you know, ten seconds up to as long as it’s there, and nothing’s going to happen until I touch the letter.

WOMAN’S VOICE: G-gorilla. (music playing)

BUCKLEY: At any point in time, if I decided this wasn’t the letter I wanted or I’m… I need to be finished with it, I can simply close it out and go back to the alphabet. It also has a page where the alphabet is done in the manual alphabet, which is nice for some kids who are, you know, signers or who may be learning signing. So whatever letter we pick, it will say the letter…


BUCKLEY: and then show the finger spell, the manual alphabet for it. There are also… there are some games that go along with some of these activities, so for example, under the “story” page, I can pick a story and it’s very, very simple, you know, the rhyming kind of sounds. Or I can do some interactive activity with the phonetic groups; learning words that…

CHILD’S VOICE: Make a word with “ah.”

An interactive activity with the phonetic groups in learning wordsBUCKLEY: Learning some words that use that word group. So it will show me a picture, and then I have to drag my answer… not correct, it won’t take it. So…

CHILD’S VOICE: F-an. Fan. Can.

BUCKLEY: And again, you know, it’s a way for kids to be able to manipulate things and, you know, have a nice, clear, large-print, voice support or speech support and be able to interact. So then there’s… there are lots of stories that go along, once we’ve mastered those sounds or if we want to hear a story with that…

CHILD’S VOICE: (singing to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel”) Listen to the short “A” sound: a, a, a, a, a.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (inaudible)

BUCKLEY: It won’t. You can’t have a touch screen at the same time, because the video, or they would be conflicting. Because the SMART Board or the interactive whiteboard is taking over for the mouse as well. So you would actually have to use the whiteboard for that.


BUCKLEY: So just an example, very simple stories. Again, what I’ve done with some of my kids is these are great stories for simple Braille stories. So if I have somebody who’s just learning some Braille, we can take these and print them out, but then we can come back and listen to them and interact with them as one way. So there’s a ton of resources.

If we go back to the main page… if we go back to the main index, they also have… nope, I’m not seeing it right here. They have a place where you can download worksheets and activities, printouts that go along with all of these activities. So they have the ABC printouts, and it’s a whole series of worksheets that go along with each of the pages in this particular website. So these are all resources that come with it. It’s a website, it’s free, there’s no subscription, so here’s, you know, some of the examples. There’s the letter “A,” there’s a coloring page — they’re all coloring pages, really — a counting activity. These are all .pdf files. You can just print them right out and take them to go. So that website is Star Fall.

CHAPTER 6: Free Websites: Tar Heel Reader

Tar Heel Reader, where people have created books with PowerPoint and then they upload them so they're being shared. BUCKLEY: The next one is called the “Tar Heel Reader,” and this website is a massive collection that just keeps growing, where people, whether it’s teachers or classes of kids, have created books with PowerPoint and then they upload them so they’re being shared. So we get books that are, you know, maybe just pictures and one word up to books that have sentences and some, you know, all kinds of topics. So we’ll look at that. Again, all of these work well on the whiteboard; they also work if you don’t have a whiteboard on your regular computer.

So “books by topic,” let’s just go to “holidays.” Right now, this website, it’s telling me in this very tiny print here, but it’s telling me how many books they have, and they have something like 6,000 books here. So if there’s a topic that you’re working on, there’s a pretty good chance maybe you’ll find something that will work for you. So if I go to “holidays,” right now there’s lots of Halloween kinds of stories, so let’s just pick “Pumpkin Patch.” And you never know what you will find.

You can download these or you can use them online, and again, they’re books that people have create themselves, so some are good quality, some… you really want to go through them and say, “Do I want to use this?” Or maybe, “Can I download it and tweak it a little bit; make it work for my students?” You can also use… they all talk with a little computerized voice. It’s not a great voice, but they do talk, so that makes a big difference for some of our students. I can say I want a child’s voice, a woman’s voice, or a man’s voice, so we’ll choose the child’s voice…

CHILD’S VOICE: Pumpkin Patch.

BUCKLEY:and we’ll read this book. And if I had switches hooked up, I could…

CHILD’S VOICE: On Wednesday, you will be going to the pumpkin patch.

BUCKLEY: go forward or back. So again, if I’m working with my SMART Board and one of the things I want to do is maybe I want to draw focus to the sentence, we have something on the SMART board called the “spotlight tool,” where I can, you know, draw my focus — sorry about that. I can draw my focus right to… maybe we want to read the sentence first, and I can help my kids focus right on that before I then take that away and we look at the pictures that go with it.

So that’s one of the features. I can also then… maybe I can pick up my pencils and have… again, have my students practice writing those words. If we’re working on pumpkins right now, there are the words. Or maybe we’re doing an activity on nouns and verbs — “Find the verb in the sentence and circle it,” or, you know, “Where’s the pronoun?” So whatever kind of activity we’re doing, integrating it using those SMART Board tools.

WOMAN: How do you erase that?

BUCKLEY: And how do I erase it? There’s an eraser, so there’s an eraser that I can use, and if I were using the tools in the front, there’s also an eraser. And again, the eraser… it’s really because I’ve picked up the tool from here, whatever I can use to erase I can erase… you know, I can erase with my hand, but because I’m holding the eraser, it will work. So this is “Tar Heel Reader,” and you could really spend quite a bit of time here exploring what’s available as far as stories that might work with your kids. Okay, so I’m not going to spend any more time on that, but there really are quite a variety of stories there.

CHAPTER 7: Free Websites: BBC Schools

From the U.K, a website called "BBC Schools" where they have lots of fun kinds of activities. BUCKLEY: Again from the U.K., the BBC, they have they have a website called “BBC Schools” where they have lots of fun kinds of activities. They have some… particularly are their bite-size… called “Bitesize Science” or “Bitesize Literacy,” “Bitesize Math.” So maybe we’ll do an activity on, you know, our choices are “living things,” “materials,” or “physical processes,” so let’s choose something challenging like, you know, “changing circuits” or “electrical conductors” or the “forces in action.” We’ll do that one. I have an option to go full screen. So now I’m full screen, I don’t have any of that other distraction in the way, and what I need to do is make the truck travel to the end of the track by changing the gradient and clicking “release.”

So the nice part about these websites, again, there’s not a lot of clutter, there’s really nice design, it’s exactly what our kids need with, you know, fairly good sized graphics and not a lot of stuff getting in the way. So you know, for this one, I have to… obviously, it’s a science concept, so there is something about working on, you know, “How far will the truck go?” Whatever the curriculum area is, they’ve got something good to go along with it, so you know, hurray for me. (laughter) Of course.

So anyway, there are lots of these types of little activities under this “BBC Schools.” The “Bitesize Science” ones are good, they have some on growing plants and, “Is it a living thing or not?” And they just work really nicely with, again, with the SMART Board, but for our students, they work well.

CHAPTER 8: Free Websites: The National Library of Virtual Manipulative

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives, this website is mat-related for students from pre-K to high schools.BUCKLEY: Then we have… it’s called “The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives,” and this website is pretty extensive as far as what it offers for… it’s math-related, but it goes from Pre-K to two right up to things that are… work with older kids in high school, and we can cover number and operations, algebra, geometry.

So I’ll just keep it simple. I’ll pick “number and operations.” And we can do anything from working with our base blocks, we can do addition, we can look at an abacus, money, all sorts of things. So we’ll just, again, keep it pretty simple. We’ll just work with the base blocks. And there’s a problem, so we won’t work with base blocks. We’ll do something else. We’ll just keep going. We’ll try addition. Nope, not going to work. Okay. Oh. We should be okay now. No. All right, well, try it on your own home computer. (laughter) I’m sure it’ll work. It’s not… as I said at the beginning, if something’s going to go down, it’s going to go down today.

But this website really has lots of things. Again, you can use it with a mouse on a small computer, but to do math activities on the whiteboard and be able to use the manipulatives, it’s really a nice option. So we can do, again, fractions, parts of a whole, money, number patterns, percent, there’s just all sorts of things. This is the “Library of Virtual Manipulatives.”

CHAPTER 9: Smartboard Software

BUCKLEY: This is commercially available software, so one program is called “MyBoard,” and we looked at the Notebook software, and that was maybe a little complex for some of us, especially if we’re intimidated by technology. There’s… there is some complexity to that. So an option for some of the younger kids or just on a simpler level is something called “MyBoard.” I’m going to come out of this for a minute so I can run that. And again, it is an authoring tool, and it’s really whatever is in your imagination, you can create an activity. So I’ll just show you a few samples.

Is it Fall or Summer? - an activity from MyBoard.We’ve done, you know, “Is it Fall or Summer?” where we do the kind of, you know, categorizing. So it comes with a library of pictures that you can draw from or you can put your own pictures in, as long as you have pictures that you want to use, if they’re somewhere on your computer. If they’re not, you can… you can Google the pictures. It has a way of connecting right into Google Image Search and getting them from there. So this is one activity we did with some of the younger kids, and they get to pick an item from the choice board and then say where it goes.

Does it go, “Is it fall,” or “Is it summer?” So you know, basically fairly simple. It doesn’t have a way of checking your answer, so it’s, again, up to the instructor or the teacher to say, you know, do the teaching part that goes along with it. But just as an example, that’s one type of activity that you could make. We’ll look at a few others. I’m not going to save my changes. And so that was “Fall or Summer?”

Dress for Fall, an activity from MyBoard for younger kids.Then we did one called “Dress for Fall,” so we have the character and the kids had to decide, you know, what should she wear? The last activity we looked at, there is a tool bar at the bottom that you can hide or show, so you know, we made the clothing fit or not fit, but if it’s the wrong size or the right size, we can make it bigger or smaller or whatever we need to do and then talk about whether or not we had made the right choice. So if we didn’t make the right choice, then we might want to throw it away and talk again about we wouldn’t wear a bathing suit in the fall.

What might we wear? And if some of the choices weren’t here, maybe the kids started throwing out their own answers. We can go to the scrapbook and just take a look at what are some of the other options? So under each letter, there are lots of choices of pictures that we could add. You know, hats under “H,” each letter of the alphabet we can look at and add some pictures from that library. So whatever picture we choose to add, then it’s on our screen and we can do something with it. And again, if it’s too big, we can make it small. We can also copy it, make multiples, which would be great for a counting activity, and then we could use the pencil tools to put words and label things.

Let’s just look at one more activity with this MyBoard. So we can create activities in advance and save them and then work with them, or one of the things that we do with one classroom is they create a storyboard, “What’s your story going to be about?” “What’s the focus?” And then they have to say the “who,” the “what,” the “where,” and the “when,” and then they have to come here and build the story based on what they came up with. So we’ll just look at one or two of those stories.

So as an example, last week the story was about so and so and they were going to go to the library and mom was going to go and they were going to read a book that was about Garfield something or other. So we have the student’s picture; we didn’t have mom, so we pulled out the picture of the lady. We had the book but it was very specific, it had to be about Garfield, so in order to do that, we can just directly go right to the Internet, type in what we’re looking for, and it will do a Google Image Search.

So he wanted Garfield, and we would then search, and if it was the picture that we wanted, we could say, “add it,” and now it goes right in. And it doesn’t look very good in here because it’s got the white background, but we can trim it and get rid of that white background, and then we can use it in our story. So and then, of course, kids get more interested in, “What can we add?” “What can be next?” And it really sparks their creativity, the kinds of things that they can do with it.

So this program is called “MyBoard,” and it’s a simple kind of activity creator, multimedia program. We just have one page, but that’s enough because we can add enough things to our story.

CHAPTER 10: Software: For Smart Boards and Beyond

BUCKLEY: There are a few more software programs that we might use with the whiteboard or not. “Clicker 5” is a word processor that has picture support, multimedia support, so we can insert not only pictures and words, but we can add movies and sounds. We can create talking books with that, we can create talking word processor files that we can share with each other.

“IntelliTools Classroom Suite” is another multimedia authoring tool. A lot of people have that program. Same kind of thing; both of those are similar to the “MyBoard” program, where we can add pictures, add sounds, add words, and manipulate them in some way to make activities.

Big Bang Pictures, a software programs from Inclusive TLC for cause and effect that work really well for kidsSome of the software programs from Inclusive TLC just for cause and effect that work really well for kids, where maybe this will be the last program that we look at, is “Big Bang Pictures” and “Big Bang Patterns.” Very visually interesting for… for many of our kids, and I’ll just use… I’ll just pull up “Big Bang Pictures.” It’s a cause and effect program with images that that are built in. We can choose which images are used, but the nice thing about this one is that we can work with it as an Mp3 player, so if you have music on your computer that you know you kids like, we can play that music instead of the music that comes with it.

We can say how long the action stays on the screen. I’m going to make it short. And there’s a whole collection of pictures, so we can unselect if we think that maybe they don’t like a particular picture or they aren’t interested in it. We’ll take those pictures out. But let’s just play this one. So color combinations are great. Again, something very simple. This one I chose to use music on my computer, because it was with an older student who liked, you know, not the nursery rhyme kind of sounds but something a little more age appropriate. So lots of different kind of pictures.

We can set the color combinations so it’s white on black or it can just be random, whatever the colors are. And they have… this particular is… is also from Inclusive TLC. They have “SwitchIt! Pictures”… sorry. They have “ChooseIt!,” “Big Bang Pictures,” “Big Bang Patterns,” which is similar, so it’s just the two colors — you know, white on black or black on white or red on black. Whatever that combination is. And then “Big Bang” is another similar cause and effect program that uses just primary colors. So those are some options from them.

CHAPTER 11: Closing Thoughts

BUCKLEY: So as we get ready to sort of close out, I will put this PowerPoint… the PowerPoint will be on the website. We didn’t get to looking at lots of the access devices, but you’ll be able to look through this, and I think some of it’s fairly self-explanatory, whether we have options for using the regular keyboard by just putting stickers that make the letters more prominent when kids need that, or you know, placing the keyboard on a slant. Some kids need that so that they’re not using so much muscle, or you know, so much head movement to find their keys.

Again, anything that works with the computer is going to be something you can still use with a whiteboard, so if you have a wireless keyboard and you want to have that where kids are taking turns answering questions that way, or you know, input. Using a keyguard or covering some of the keys. The IntelliKeys, it’s an alternate keyboard that has, you know, it comes with some standard overlays that work with it that are large print, you know, whether it’s just the alphabet or numbers or the QWERTY or pictures. So you really have an endless number of ways of using the IntelliKeys keyboard. There’s an example of using pictures and there’s an example of just changing the colors so maybe the picture is a little more prominent, or even changing it so that you use a keyguard around that frames the pictures and makes those more visible.

Interactive White Boards and Assistive Technology for Early Learners with Wendy Buckley.

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