Using Smart Boards to Boost Engagement and Simplify Routines

Enhance and Simplify Any Classroom Routine with Interactive Smart Boards edLeader Panel recording screenshot


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From developing lesson plans, to performing administrative functions, to implementing creative strategies to spark student engagement and collaboration, today’s classroom teacher juggles more responsibility than ever and does so in less time than ever. 

During the edLeader Panel, “Enhance and Simplify Any Classroom Routine with Interactive Smart Boards,” former and current classroom teachers discussed how interactive smart boards can streamline teacher workloads while boosting student engagement and collaboration.

Supporting Student-Centered Instruction

Joyce Whitby, CEO and Co-founder of Innovations4Education and panel moderator, kicked off the session with a poll question for attendees, asking, “What’s your biggest motivation for using more technology in the classroom?”

The overwhelming response from the attendees (82%) was to foster student engagement. For teachers, creating a classroom environment that is inspirational and collaborative is a top priority, but finding ways to do that can be challenging. Leveraging technology is one way to meet the challenge.

According to Whitby, data shows that by “2025, interactive displays are going to be penetrating and saturating to about 90% [of the K-12 market].” With this data in mind, the panelists discussed the following strategies to ensure interactive smart boards support student-centered instruction:

  • The device should not be exclusive to the teacher. Students naturally understand the display and how to connect their devices. This invites them to share their work and collaborate. It also encourages them to take ownership and pride in their work because they know it is going to be seen by the whole class.
  • The mobility of the smart board invites more small-group collaboration, which allows a lesson to become organic and develop on its own.
  • Teachers can get kids moving—it is not a static device where the teacher is standing at the front of the room and the kids are seated the whole time. Kids can cast to the device, or they can get up and interact with the device itself to complete a lesson or collaborate with others.
  • Smart boards can be used as a reward system for students. One example is from an elementary classroom in Dallas where the teacher used their brush mode feature for students to create artwork that could then be displayed or sent via email or text for their parents to see.
  • Establishing norms in the classroom: Having a theme-based background or image on the screen every day when the students arrive so they know what the lesson is going to be about that day. This creates a routine while also sparking their imagination.

When asking the session attendees what comes to mind when they think about student-centered instruction and smart boards, responses included: agency, inclusion, exploration, fun, being seen, reliability, self-esteem, multisensory, and blended learning.

Hybrid Learning and Flipped Classrooms 

For schools that are hybrid or may need to go hybrid, interactive smart boards are a great resource for the home-to-school connection. During the pandemic, CJ Reynolds, a high school teacher and author, said he used his smart board to engage students in really creative ways because he knew he was competing with other activities that might be taking place in their homes when he was teaching. He says “it creates a bridge.”

To further explain, he said, “when we talk about beaming student work up, sometimes that is to help a student, sometimes that is for someone that thinks they’re doing it the right way, [or wants you to] check it for me.” He explained that it becomes a collaborative moment where all the students are engaged and collaborating on a project or a paper, and they are seamlessly helping one another.

It becomes an authentic, collaborative effort whether students are in the classroom or hybrid. Another great feature is that it allows students to annotate each other’s work, which sparks conversations and ideas and usually ends up making the project or assignment better.

To further expand upon the collaborative nature of the smart boards, Gloria Marchus, Educational Technology Consultant for Samsung, shared that when she taught high school English, she would use her board for creative writing prompts, enabling the kids to see the work of their classmates. This resulted in them getting to know each other through their writing and ideas. It also moved students front and center to give them a voice in the activity or assignment.

Other engagement ideas using the smart boards included a virtual talent show and virtual field trips to famous places like the Globe Theater or Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Finally, inviting kids to share their ideas on how it can be used is great because it gives them a sense of ownership and builds agency.

Administrative Tasks and Classroom Management  

While the smart boards are great for inviting collaboration and sparking student creativity, they can also help teachers streamline administrative tasks and improve classroom management. Functions they help streamline are:

  • Grading and sharing assessments with students and their parents
  • Teacher-to-teacher collaboration: teachers of the same discipline can share their work, see what their colleagues did in class, and see if what they did produced better results
  • Attendance: The seating chart can be displayed on the smart board and the kids can see when a teacher is taking attendance and can help with the attendance process
  • Challenges and incentives can be displayed on the board and teachers can keep “score” to make it competitive, so kids are motivated to “win” and do well
  • Teachers can quickly poll students to see who understands the lesson to help gauge who may need extra help, or if they understand it, move on to the next lesson
  • Share screens with another classroom in your high school or even across the world to expose them to a different type of lesson or level of content
  • Teachers can easily create a gallery of their students’ work, which can then be shared at any time during the year as a history of their activities.

While all these functions help to simplify classroom tasks, Anthony Alexandre, Educational Technology Consultant for Samsung, believes the biggest benefit for teachers is that it allows them to build a review lesson in real time.

As they are teaching a lesson and students are watching, a teacher can add certain things to the lesson—they can literally teach the review lesson to themselves in class. It is like having instant recall. A teacher can review a lesson to see where he stopped, where he needs to add pieces to prepare students for an upcoming test, or where he needs to clarify what is supposed to be included in an assignment. 

Intuitive Creativity

For Reynolds, the feature he loves the most as a teacher is that his smart board is intuitive and did not require him to attend a professional development session or go through training to learn how to use it. He says it takes about 10-15 minutes of playing with the interface to get a feel for it and then it is just a matter of connecting a laptop or another device of choice to it.

For his students, it was even easier because technology use comes naturally to them. With all the technology options available today, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creativity. If students can dream up what they want to do, they can probably make it happen using the smart board.

Learn more about this edWeb broadcast, “Enhance and Simplify Any Classroom Routine with Interactive Smart Boards,” sponsored by Samsung.

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Blog post by Ginny Kirkland based on this edLeader Panel