SMART "Content Creation" Seminars Promise Feedback, Collaboration, and Resources
Engaging seminars are designed to help teachers create professional, interactive, and shareable Notebook software lessons.
Susan Vienneau had been using a SMART Board ™ interactive whiteboard in her classroom at Eleanor W. Graham Middle School for six years and was a SMART Exemplary Educator for the previous two years when she was asked by SMART Technologies to be a group leader at the company's "Content Creation" seminar in Montreal. It was a professional development opportunity like no other for the veteran mathematics teacher from
Richibucto, NB, Canada.
"When you're helping other teachers in their professional development, it reinforces your own understanding," says Vienneau. "Being a seminar group leader enhanced my own professional development. It enabled me to explore new aspects of SMART's Notebook software, which was an exciting and eye-opening experience for me." SMART Technologies Content Creation seminars are designed to help teachers discover how to create professional, interactive, and shareable Notebook software lessons, according to Giselle Goncalves, product line manager, education, at SMART Technologies. Through a single application, SMART Notebook software enables teachers to create, deliver, and manage interactive lessons with ease.
"SMART offers this seminar to educators such as Susan Vienneau who are enthusiastic about designing lesson activities to increase student engagement and participation," says Goncalves. "They can enhance their ability to use SMART products in the classroom to create content that they can share with other educators."
Sharing content with educators was something Lynn Keith took to heart after attending SMART's Content Creation seminar. "We left the seminar with lessons we'd created during the conference," says the elementary school technology facilitator at Providence Spring Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina. "All the attendees shared the lessons they'd created, so we were able to return home with lessons that we could use and share with our teachers. Most of us created multiple lessons during the Content Creation seminar, and everyone shared their lessons."
Keith's approach to the seminar was to learn and create content with the idea of taking that content back to her school to teach her school's teachers. By doing so, the knowledge she gained at the seminar could be disseminated across her entire school. She reports developing some fantastic, shareable training templates in the process.
For her school to benefit fully, Keith brought several teachers with her to the seminar. "As a technology facilitator, I see things from one perspective," says Keith. "I think in terms of how to teach teachers skills related to technology. A teacher approaches the SMART seminar from a different perspective. They are the ones who know the curriculum inside and out, and they can apply what they learn to the State's standard course of study. Additionally, our special education teacher was able to apply it to the needs of the children she teaches. That's something I could never have done. Everybody had their own perspective on the information that we were presented, and their own way of applying it to their situation. Now, those teachers are able to help me train the rest of the staff."
Learning to Share
"At the core of SMART's 'Content Creation' seminar is the sharing," says Yolanda Habbi, SMART's program manager for content and resources. "When we talk about shareable lessons, we mean that another teacher can easily use the lesson to meet their needs. Some teachers are quite good at creating lessons in Notebook, but not necessarily something another teacher could use. So, we designed the Content Creation seminar to develop shareable resources that all teachers could use."
Habbi is passionate about teaching tips and tricks for using SMART Notebook software's interactive design and delivery tools and the Lesson Activity Toolkit. During the seminar, Habbi provides hands-on guidance and assistance to teachers learning to create shareable lessons.
Jerry Shepherdson, director of instructional technology for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina understands the power of creating shareable lessons for use in the classroom. "I was able to walk away from the Content Creation seminar with a CD filled with all the lesson plans that were created during the event," he says. "And all those lesson plans will be on the SMART Web site for other folks to use as well. That's the strongpoint of the seminar: it gives our teachers the ability to share what they're doing, so everyone's not reinventing the wheel."
Shepherdson continues, "In our district, we have a Wiki set up for our SMART users so they can share information and lesson plans. We also have a SMART User's Group. SMART has created an environment for people to share ideas and network with each other. SMART also provides opportunities for online training, traditional workshops, and one-on-one training with instructors."
Habbi reflects on the Content Creation seminar in Charlotte: "There was a mixed bag of teachers with different comfort levels in terms of technology. On the first day, there were a few teachers who were quite overwhelmed at what they had to achieve. By the second day, those apprehensive teachers came in super early to start the lesson activity, and, by the end of the day, they were creating lessons and experiencing the joy of, 'Oh, I see how you do it now...' They were so excited to see what they had achieved. One math teacher had her textbook in front of her and was trying to translate essential components of the textbook lesson into Notebook. She said, 'This is going to get those kids in the back to pay attention and want to come up to the board.' The teacher realized that with SMART, she could get her students engaged and reach her learning objective. That's an important objective. The point of the Content Creation seminar is to make it possible for teachers to reach students in different ways."
Portfolio of Development
The skill that SMART emphasizes in the Content Creation seminar is how to create sharable lessons. Having this skill helps teachers build their professional portfolio and their professional development. It's why districts have been so keen for SMART to come to their schools and show teachers how to create shareable lessons, according to Habbi.
"Professional development is the key," says Shepherdson. "We're trying to provide differentiated learning for our teachers, so they can take advantage of their professional training at home, online, and in the classroom. SMART facilitates professional development while teachers collaborate directly with each other. That's what we experienced at the Content Creation seminar."
Shepherdson's experience highlights the value of Habbi's approach to facilitating the Content Creation seminar: "Teacher collaboration is a big plus," Shepherdson concludes. "It's not something that teachers who work a full schedule get to do often. The SMART Content Creation seminar gives teachers the opportunity to connect with other teachers covering the same subject—people they may have met online or through the Wiki or had discussions with at other training events. And that's neat. The Content Creation seminar provides a dedicated three days where teachers can sit down with their peers and build exciting lessons that they can take back and use in their classrooms."