Creating a SMART Command Center

SMART Boards can be so much more than an expensive display for your projected desktop image or something underneath a document camera. They have the potential to provide students with the opportunity to engage with content, facilitate task management, and promote an interactive learning space for both whole and small group instruction. Below are some easy ways to create a “SMART Command Center” for your classroom.

  1. This is a simple website that will help you facilitate any lesson you are teaching throughout the day. Think of it as control central for managing time and responsibilities. You can read more about Classroom Screen in my previous blog post.
  2. Annotate PDFs using SMART Ink Document Viewer: View PDF files with the SMART Ink Document Viewer and use SMART Ink to annotate over them. What makes this so great is that the digital ink layer stays in place as your document scrolls up and down.
  3. Quick Formative Assessments Using SMART LAB Activities: Gamify your exit tickets with these quick activities that make checking for understanding fun and engaging.
  4. Take Attendance and Lunch Count: Check out this curated list of already created Notebook files for each month
  5. Use your SMART Board as a station for Flipped Instruction: You can create a recorded lesson using the SMART recorder or students can use the SMART recorder to make their thinking visible!
  6. Flippity Skip the Spreadsheet: Create random name generators and word games without having to use a Spreadsheet
  7. Badge Tracker: This free tool allows you to award and display classroom badges.
  8. Bouncy Balls This site uses your computer’s microphone to monitor the noise level of your classroom.
  9. Go Noodle: GoNoodle helps teachers and parents get kids moving with short interactive activities. Desk-side movement helps kids achieve more by keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the day.
  10. Display a Learning Menu: Give students choice as to how they apply their newly acquired knowledge. (From Kasey Bell)
  11. Create an Interactive Word Wall: This tool makes it quick and easy to create interactive word walls
  12. Display Learning Strategies: This site contains a plethora of learning strategy ideas for whole, small group, and individual instruction.
  13. Smart Exchange is a website where you can download free lessons for your Smart Board and Smart Notebooks. From Jeopardy templates to a map of the 50 states, it’s worth a look to see what you can find!
  14. Virtual Math Manipulatives This site contains links to some amazing free to use sites that make math visual.
  15. Draw a Stickman: I’m not even going to explain this one…you just have to do it!


Tool of the Summer: Bulb

I’ve been a busy little bee this summer creating PD classes for the new school year. One of the tools I’m using to gather my resources is Bulb. Oh, how I love this site! Bulb allows you to organize content into collections, making it very easy for the user to separate content into different sections. I like it because you are not overwhelming the participant with lots of information at one time. This also makes the perfect tool for flipping lessons or collecting work for student portfolios. You can learn how to get started by visiting their Bulb for Teachers and Students.

I’ve seen many differentiated resources on the Internet lately and decided to make one for an App Smashes and Flows class I will be teaching in August. I created a Bulb with 6 different sections. The idea is to introduce the concept of App Smashes and Flows, explain the differences between the two, and then allow the participants to choose their tasks based on their comfort level with the iPad. Bulb is the perfect tool for this purpose. 

app smash and flow

I’m not the only NEISD fan of Bulb. Sue Carlson, NEISD Instructional Technology Specialist, also used Bulb to curate her resources for our district’s What’s New in Office 2013? professional development course. Sue was able to create separate pages for each of the different software titles within the Office Suite. Participants are able to return to her Bulb for quick reminders, if needed.

Check out some of my other PD courses I’ve created using Bulb:

Interactive Techniques from SMART offers a variety of free resources that show you how to create interactive reveal techniques for their Notebook Software. This is a great place to start if you just received your SMARTboard.

Self-paced tutorials

  • Using the Attachments Tab in SMART Notebook Software – Flash
  • Using the Add-ons Tab in SMART Notebook Software – Flash
  • Using the Google 3D Warehouse in SMART Notebook Software – Flash  

Quick reference guides

  • The Magic Tunnel Effect – PDF
  • The Magnifying glass – PDF
  • The SMART Notebook Page Recorder – PDF
  • Creating and Customizing Pull tabs – PDF
  • The random generator Tool – PDF
  • The Balloon Pop Tool – PDF
  • The Checker Tool – PDF
  • The Erase to Reveal Effect – PDF


Create a Custom Google Search Engine

This is an example of how insomnia can be your friend.  While I was blog hopping, I stumbled upon one with a customized Search Engine for finding resources related to a specific topic. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone from one website to another searching for that perfect SMART Notebook lesson. By typing in a specific curriculum topic (for example, water cycle) I can now search all my favorite SMART websites at once. Oh, the extra time I shall now have on my hands…

To create your own search engine:

  1. On the Google Custom Search home page, click New search engine. In the Sites to search section, add the pages you want to include in your search engine. You can include any sites you want, not just sites you own. You can include site URLs or page URLs, and you can also get fancy and use URL patterns. The name of your search engine will be automatically generated based on the URLs you select. You can change this name at any time.
  2. Select the language of your search engine. This defines the language of the buttons and other design elements of your search engine, but doesn’t affect the actual search results.
  3. Click Create.
  4. To add your search engine to your site, click Get Code on the next page. Copy the code and paste it into your site wherever you want your Custom Search Engine to appear.

Voki’s Getting SMARTer

Notebook 11 makes it easy to include a Voki avatar in your SMART Notebook lessons. Below you will find a video showing how to download the widget and embed the HTML code right into the software. This will make your presentations much more engaging for students and allows them yet another way to demonstrate understanding of a concept. Visit the SMART Exchange to find this Voki widget and more. Click here for a PDF tutorial on how create your own Voki: Voki Tutorial



You will need to have a Voki account in order to use this widget. You can also create free accounts for your students using their Google Docs credentials. See your campus ITS for more information. Here are a few examples of how you can use Voki avatars within the Notebook Software:

Changing/Printing Underlay for SmartSlate

   1.  Turn on your SmartSlate so it is connected and functioning.
   2.  Right click on the Smartboard Tools icon in the bottom right         side of your screen by the computer’s clock.
   3.  Select “Control Panel”.
   4.  Click “Smart Hardware Tools” on the left side of the window            that appears.
5.  Select “Setup Underlay and Icon Strip” from the pulldown menu in the middle of the window.

**If you are wanting to just use the default tools on the Slate, simply click “Print” at the bottom right side of the window.  Cut out the underlay and place it under the thin, clear plastic film on the top of your Slate.

**If you would like to change the tools that are on your Slate, click the “Setup Icon Strip” button and change the tools that appear on your slate.  After you’ve finished making changes, click “Apply” at the bottom right and then print the underlay to match the changes.

Connecting Your Slate or Airliner

WS200 Wireless SLATE or WS100 Airliner Bluetooth Connection
HP6910 Teacher Laptops


  1.  Make sure your AirLiner or Slate is charged.
  2. Turn on the wireless on your teacher laptop (press icon on shiny strip until it glows blue).
  3. RIGHT click on Bluetooth icon in your System Tray –  select Add a Bluetooth Device.
  4. Turn over SLATE or Airliner and push CONNECT button on back.
  5. When picture of SLATE or Airliner appears in Bluetooth window, click on it one time to select, then NEXT.
  6. FOR WS100 AIRLINER: when confirmation window pops up, use the PEN FROM THE AIRLINER to click on the countdown timer. If your pen is now communicating with your computer, you can proceed to customize the pen settings. See SMART_SLATE_UNDERLAY handout for more information. Congratulations! You have finished.
  7. FOR WS200 SLATE: when confirmation window pops up, WAIT, do not touch pen or use mouse to click on countdown timer. After approximately 20-30 seconds a SECURITY ALERT bubble will appear above the system tray. Use your mouse to click on the bubble. Type four zeros in the security box (0000), then click okay with your mouse. Pick up the pen from the SLATE and click on the countdown timer. You may have to repeat this process (From steps 3 on) more than one time before you have a successful connection.
  8. If your SLATE pen is now communicating with your computer, you can proceed to customize the pen settings and create custom tool sets and underlays.


SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit

Are you a new to the world of SMART? You may have access to a SmartBoard on your campus or you may have a Slate that’s still in the box.  The Lesson Activity Toolkit is a great way to begin learning the features of Notebook.  Here’s a quick You Tube Video to help you get acquainted.

Below you will find a link to the Lesson Activity Toolkit Quickstart Guide. I have also included the Notebook Activity I use in my trainings. Check back often for more ideas on how to use the Notebook Software.

Lesson Activity Toolkit PDF

Lesson Activity Toolkit

Interactive Whiteboard Language Arts Tips From Scholastic

Building Language for Literacy
Make the connection between letters and sounds. (PreK–K)

Practical Tips:

Have students practice their rhyming skills with Reggie the Rhyming Rhino. Display the activity on Whiteboard and have different students choose the words that rhyme.
Nina the Naming Newt will help students identify places within their community and common items found in those places. This is a wonderful activity to use with a social studies unit about community. Display the activity on Whiteboard and have different students drag the correct items into the box.
All of these activities can be used for small group instruction, especially the “Leo the Letter-Loving Lobster” activity. Help a small group of students with letter recognition by displaying the activity on the Whiteboard and having students choose the letters that match the object. Students can also keep a word dictionary in a notebook and add the new words that they spelled.
Go to Building Language for Literacy
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Clifford Interactive Storybooks
Play with phonics to build stories, in English and Spanish. (PreK–2)

Practical Tips:

Use these activities during circle time or a morning meeting to have students practice reading together. Students will enjoy choosing the words to complete the story they’re reading.
If you have voting capabilities, invite students to vote for which word they want to use to complete the story.
Do a “picture walk.” Before reading the story or listening to the audio, talk about the elements in the illustration. Have students circle and label the elements before reading the page.
Go to Clifford Interactive Storybooks
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Clifford Learning Games
Practice letters, sounds, and sight words with the Big Red Dog. (PreK–2)

Practical Tips:

Practice letter recognition with the word match game. Activity can be completed as a whole class or with a small group of students who need extra practice. Have students take turns dragging the words into the box with the appropriate starting letter.
Make new words using the “Make a Word” game. Display the activity on Whiteboard when students enter the classroom and challenge each student to create a new word. Students will look forward to creating new words when they enter the classroom in the morning. The “Make a Word” game can also be used whole class to review vowel sounds and even rhyming words.
Go to Clifford Learning Games
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Scholastic Videos
Bring authors into your classroom and build excitement around books. (PreK–12)

Check out the vast video collection for:

Video Book Talks
Video Book Trailers
Author Read-Alouds
Practical Tips:

Get students excited about an author study by showing a short video of the author on the Whiteboard.
Inspire young writers to enjoy writing and to understand the writing process by introducing them to published authors. Start a mini-lesson on where writers get their ideas by playing one of the many videos included in the collection. Have students make a list of how published authors come up with their writing ideas. Videos can also be used for mini-lessons on editing, revision, character development, etc.
Use videos to inspire students to create their own author videos. After students view several author videos on the Whiteboard, have them brainstorm ideas and topics to include in their own author video. Students will not only think about themselves as writers, they will be inspired to write more.
Go to Scholastic Videos

Story Starters
Generate creative writing prompts and then write stories. (K–6)

Practical Tips:

This is a perfect activity for students to complete as a morning activity. Display “Story
Starters” on Whiteboard and assign one student each day to spin the wheel. Students can write their creative stories in their Writer’s Notebook.
Do you have an extra few minutes between classroom activities and need something to do? Display “Story Starters” on your Whiteboard and have a student spin the wheel. Give students time to start writing their stories. Students can finish their stories during the day or for homework.
Go to Story Starters
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Character Scrapbook
Create illustrated pages that analyze favorite characters from any book. (K–8)

Practical Tips:

Help students learn how to determine character traits of a character in a book. Use a class read-aloud to model on the Whiteboard how to complete the activity. Have students come up to the Whiteboard and write down what they know about a character. Once this activity is modeled, students can complete it independently in the computer lab or at a center.
Challenge students to critically think about characters in books you are reading in class. Complete the “Ten things I know about . . . ” page, and have students use their critical thinking skills to determine which character of the book fits the descriptions displayed on the board.
Go to Character Scrapbook
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Flashlight Readers
Interact with your favorite books through games, slide shows, and videos. (1–8)

Practical Tips:

Show students the importance of revision in the writing process. Use Kate DiCamillo’s
“Slide Show of Drafts” to discuss the revision process and allow students to connect to a published author. Play each draft slide and have students write down how Kate DiCamillo revised the draft. When finished, have students use the strategies learned to revise their own writing.
Video and audio clips can be displayed on the Whiteboard to introduce an author study or to pique students’ interest in a book they’re going to read.
Do your students need extra grammar practice? Use Charlotte’s Web “Pick-the-Perfect-Word Game” to practice identifying nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prefixes. Display the activity on Whiteboard and have students move the correct words into Charlotte’s web.
Go to Flashlight Readers
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Poetry Idea Engine
Write haikus, free verse, limericks, and more. (1–8)

Practical Tips:

Display the “Poetry Idea Engine” and choose a type of poetry to teach. Each one explains the definition of the poem to assist with teaching. Have students create different poems for each type by dragging words into the blanks. After learning about each type of poem, have students create their own in groups, pairs, or individually.
Leave the poetry machine up to use at a center. Students can create a poem on the board, then write one at the center.
Go to Poetry Idea Engine
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Scholastic News Top Story
Focus on main idea, topic sentences, and essay structure with timely subjects. (3–8)

Practical Tips:

Select Top News story at your class reading level (each top story is available with leveled versions for grade 3, 4, 5–6, and 7–8). Display on Whiteboard and ask students to read aloud. Use the editing functions on your Whiteboard to highlight main and supporting ideas and key vocabulary. This is good practice for reading comprehension test skills.
Display the most-recent Top News story on your Whiteboard for transition time as students arrive, submit homework, etc. Ask students to do a five-minute free write in their Writer’s Notebook of reactions, personal connections, or fictional versions of what happens next.
Go to Scholastic News Top Story
Go to Teacher’s Guide

Myths Brainstorming Machine
Choose the elements to create your own myth. (4–9)

Practical Tips:

Use the brainstorming tool to model brainstorming ideas to write a myth. Have students work through choosing a setting, monster, and god/goddess as a whole class. Then model how to use the outline to write the myth.
Use this brainstorming tool with students who are struggling for writing ideas. Display the “Myths Brainstorming Machine” and have struggling students choose in a small group which setting, monster, and god/goddess they would like to use in their story. Print out the idea outline to get them started writing.
Go to Myths Brainstorming Machine
Go to Teacher’s Guide