In the county where I live, nearly every classroom has a Smart Board. Part of this may have to do with the fact that I live in the same county as the University of Florida and I suspect they had some influence on the school board in choosing this amazing tool. If you work in an area where Smart Boards are rare, let me explain what they do.
Imagine a white-board about five feet wide and four feet tall. A few feet away, and usually mounted to the ceiling, is a projector that will display an image of whatever is on your computer screen onto the white-board. This, by itself, would be a pretty nifty set-up, but the people with Smart-Board have taken it a step further, allowing you to interact with the information in your computer via the screen. Think of it as a giant touch screen for your classroom. You can pull up a series of math problems on the board and write the answer to the problems on the screen with digital ink, then erase all of your marks with a quick movement and move to the next page with another. A teacher can quite literally, plan her whole day on her computer and move from lesson to lesson without leaving the Smart Board.
When school opened last year, we went to meet our daughters teacher who demonstrated the Smart-Board for us. On the screen she had an image of the Earth, taken from space. With her hand, the teacher swept across the globe and it began to spin. She stopped it as it neared the United States and zoomed in on our state, then our city, then our school with two fingers moving in opposite directions. Not brad new technology, but still stunning to watch on this large scale.
When I started subbing I quickly learned that Smart Boards could act like classroom movie screens. Not that I wanted to watch movies, but it did allow me to show YouTube videos and Power Point presentations on the giant screen. Suddenly, my USB memory stick was the most important tool in my arsenal. Since then I have downloaded hundreds of videos that I can show instantly in any room that has a Smart-Board. Below, I’ll list some of my favorite sources for great content, but suffice it to say that barely a week goes by that I’m not using my memory stick to show one of the numerous Power Points I have developed, or show one of the many educational videos that are available to all teachers for free. Please, check them out for yourselves, and if you know of some sources I have missed, please let me know.
TED-Ed: I love the TED videos. They are short peaks into cutting edge thought and technology given by experts in the field. Most of these will be better for older students but many of the ideas are absolutely captivating, if not mind blowing, in their implications.
The Piano Guys: Some very creative videos set to really good music. Check out Cello Wars, a Star Wars send off that my students love to watch.
To get these videos onto a USB memory stick you will need a program that helps you do that. I suggest you do it through your browser. I use Firefox as my browser and they offer several add-on programs that will do the trick. Just go to the Mozilla AddOns page and do a search for “video download.” You will see that there are a number of choices you can choose from. I use Video Download Helper and it works great, but I have used others as well with similar results.