I have used them in the past, but I dont have one at my current school. However, I find I can do just as much with an LCD projector and a bluetooth mouse. I can give the mouse to any student in the class and they can control the screen from their seat. I think SMART boards are great, but it is not something you should necessarily try and use every lesson. If you think there is a chance that it can improve the teaching and learning in the classroom, then by all means use it. If you know of a better way, then use that.
I love mine. I had to redesign my lessons to make them interactive but the time and energy to do that was worth it. I think what makes the SmartBoard valuable is the software that comes with it. If I lost my SmartBoard I could recreate similar lesson plans and have kids interact with the material via a wireless mouse, but it wouldn't be as effective. There is something about getting out of their seats and physically touching the item on the SmartBoard to manipulate it that makes the content stick better in their brain. At least this works for my students and me. I know several Math teachers who prefer a slate over a SmartBoard. They have different content and different needs.
I have a little experience with Smart boards but I use its competitor, Promethean's ActivBoard. The technology is hugely useful and I endorse them. I teach a grade four-five class. I divide my time between the board and a white board almost equally. Going to the back of the room (where my desktop resides) is practical enough. There are times when a student or I will do that during a lesson. The wireless keyboards and mice I have used do not have the range. The interface on the board is far easier to deal with than what a wireless mouse might allow. I write notes, complete charts and answers on the board, manipulate graphics, call up media -- and so do my students.
I have taught many years without such technologies so like most experienced teachers I know how to teach without one. Before I had an ActivBoard I simply projected my material on the white board and used a marker. That is quite handy, but there is no way to save the results. I do save each day's "flipcharts" sometimes recalling them for subsequent lessons.
This technology will be in your classroom and you will love it. It has not replaced my white board completely. Three or four kids working out problems or edits at the white board are part of my routine, but the lesson is generally on the ActivBoard. Sometimes I think the board is simply an intermediary step to 1-1 computing. Things will take off when we have that -- and we will have that too.
The best way to learn to use a Smartboard is just to try it. I am a teacher tech leader in my building, and all the teachers in my K-2 building wish they had one. We do have some. Here are a few of my thoughts on them...
- Almost any lesson can be modified / enhanced to include some smartboard activity, but it may take some additional teacher prep time for the first time you teach a certain lesson.
- There are many resources that are already ready for smartboards - online websites AND smart notebook files created by other teachers that are available online. When one person from my team finds something useful, we share it with everyone else. We share links in a common place available to all.
- There is some initial teacher getting used to it time. For your teacher friend who didn't like it - having support when she needs it might help. Trying something different isn't easy for everyone!
I am just trying out some blogging and you might wish to see the information I wrote yesterday http://foreignstudenthosting.wordpress.com/; companies who do training days or sessions for 'learners' using technology in the classroom! I came across a site a couple of days ago in the UK. I expect there is someone in your area.
Hope this helps, I will keep an eye open for one near you!
What makes SMART stand out is the SMART notebook software. It is a great tool for educators, and comes with unlimited upgrades. That means teachers can keep-up with technology and it won’t cost them any more money. Educators can find other free, SMARTboard resources at http://www.teachsmart.org/Teacher%20Resources/Online%20Resources.aspx. This link provides creative ideas to enhance your curriculum. The Notebook software actually includes a link to lesson plans. This literally gives teachers the world in the palm of their hands. The link allows educators to share information and engaging SMARTboard ideas.
SMART certified trainers assist teachers in getting the most out of their SMARTboards. They can help when educators are having problems, or just provide ideas for those who need some creative assistance.
Students love the hands-on approach to learning that SMARTboards provide. Plus, they cut down on teacher planning time since you can save the presentations to use and tweak year after year.