Teacher Lee Briggs on technology in today's classroom. Brought to you by Weekly Reader.

My Swiss Army Knife

My grandfather was a farmer. He carried a small pocket knife wherever he went, and it did not stop when the farm was sold off. One of my only memories of the guy was him cutting apples and feeding us kids like seals when we were toddlers. I inherited his need to be handy, and carry around a little multi-tool around in my jacket in case I should need a scissors or a screwdriver. It has come in handy more than you would think.

I like having tools around when I need them. That is why I don’t tend to organize my SMARTboard lessons into separate “lessons” where I have a new presentation for each day. I end up using the same tools every day and those I keep in a single file I call my “basic board.”

Some things on my “basic board”:

1) Mock-up of the school’s assignment notebook. The slide was made to look exactly like the one the students have to minimize confusion.

2) Timers. I have a small timer on nearly every page. This is a great way for managing time in the class: two minutes from when the bell rings we start class, five minutes of spelling practice, a minute to get ready for math, etc.

3) Dueling timers. A page that has two timers. Say the class has two minutes to get ready and the timer says it only took them 1:30. I add the “leftover” 30 seconds to the second “free time” timer. When the class has saved up 45 minutes they can cash in their time for a fun day.

3) Group-o-Tron. That’s my fancy name for a random group generator. You put in the students’ names and tell the generator how many groups you want and students are randomly assigned into groups. Sure, every so often you as the teacher don’t agree with the Group-o-tron, but it sets an objective policy that you work with who you get—no arguments.

4) Randomizer. I use a random word generator with the students’ names put in it. Students get picked at random, complete with little “game show” sounds. Great for picking kids to call for reading or giving answers. Because it is random (and because it repeats) I never have trouble with kids not following along.

5) Grid paper, notebook paper, dot paper. These are all great for modeling work and making large, quick graphs of data.

6) Maps. I have at the ready maps of the world, the United States, Wisconsin, and the solar system, or things that we might come across in our reading or class.

7) Links. I’ve got a whole page where I dump links to websites we use all the time. It keeps me from having to navigate my bookmarks in the browser and makes it a lot more kid-friendly.

Here it is in action.

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Comments on: "My Swiss Army Knife" (1)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gerardo Lazaro. Gerardo Lazaro said: RT @Weekly_Reader: Our blogger, Lee Briggs, on his classroom "multi-tool": the SmartBoard. Great tips + video. http://bit.ly/gOSLpz #sma … […]

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