No Smartboard? No Problem! - Making the Most Out of Your Projector

By Justin Lim on September 20, 2009

When I first began teaching, I realized that one of the most frustrating tasks for below grade level readers is following along when the class is reading a text. What made it worse for me, was that I was forever answering the question, "Mr. Lim where are we at?"

Eventually, I decided to scan all of our core texts so that I could project them onto my whiteboard while teaching. Now, not only is it a snap for my students to follow along, but it's also much easier for me to guide the whole class through a text. The practice has radically changed the way I approach teaching with textbooks.

Pages from Stage C rBook_Page_2

Here are some of the benefits:

1. Previewing the passage - Before, I would tell students to turn to a page and would verbally draw their attention to particular pictures, graphs, and subheadings in order to preview. Now, I simply project the page, have students follow along, and use my laser pointer to refer to points of interest. The transitions flow seamlessly and I can tell that it's much easier for them to follow along.

2. Marking up the text - If the text that we are going over is a consumable, I can physically mark on my whiteboard to model for students how to mark up their own papers.

3. Referencing sections of the text - Whenever I used to reference a specific section of the text, it would sound a little like this: "... Go ahead and take a look at the bottom of page 52 in the second column... I'm at the second to the last sentence... No, It's at the bottom of the paragraph... Yea, right by the dinosaur's foot..." Now, it's simply a matter of pointing to a section on the board and students can instantly figure out what I'm referring to.

4. Students can take notes continuously - I recently asked a former (EL) student how the projected texts have helped him. He pointed out that he was able to take notes much more easily. He mentioned that the projection allowed him to listen to me, take notes on what I was saying, and then easily find where the rest of the class was in the text.

5. No more endless, "Where are we at?" questions - Last year I only had one student ask me where we were at in a lesson. About half the class pointed to the whiteboard and he never had the same problem again.

Lastly, I combined the use of the projector with one of these devices:


This is a Gyration Air-Mouse. If you've ever played the Nintendo Wii, then you'll have a good idea of how this device works. I've found that with an air-mouse, a projector and a whiteboard, I can be just as dynamic as many teachers who use smartboards.

Gyration Air-Mouse on Amazon

I use the air-mouse to switch between Powerpoint, Adobe (scanned texts), and Quicktime (for related clips). I project directly on to the whiteboard so that I can circle, highlight, and write directly onto the text with my dry-erase pens.

Especially in a classes filled with English Learners and basic readers, it's essential for us to find ways to scaffold lessons and address multiple modalities of learning. Hopefully, these strategies help you to reach your struggling students too!

Warm regards,

Justin Lim
Rosemead High School
El Monte Union High School District


I was apprehensive about accessing a page that would be dealing with possible academic concepts that my students would not be dealing with, but was pleasantly surprised to read the selection on making better use of the projector, especially when a SMART board is not accessible. What an easy approach! I can’t tell you how many times I have to repeat a page number to my students. This will be something I hope to try out next week!

[Edit: Response]


I totally know what you mean about repeating page numbers. I used to write the page number on the board, which helped, but I still had to keep referring to the board.



Justin, The "No SmartBoard" overhead information is creative. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed your other postings as well. Cyndee

[Edit: Response]

Hi Cyndee!

I'm glad that you liked the posts! I hope that the information helps!

Warm regards,



I have a projector and whiteboard in my classroom - no smartboard - so this post was PERFECT for me. I love the idea of scanning material in and presenting and marking up the copy using the Gyration Air-Mouse. I have to see if there is a MAC equivalent.

Thanks for the idea!

[Edit: Response]

I'm glad that it could help! By the way, the Gyration Air-Mouse works with Mac OS Leopard. However, you will not be able to program the "forward" and "back" buttons for Powerpoint. I use a Mac with the air mouse and a Powerpoint presenter and it works out pretty well.

I haven't tried it with SnowLeopard yet. Let me know if you figure out how to program the air-mouse on a Mac!



Loved the ideas presented here and will do this with my books as well. Thanks for sharing.

[Edit: Response]

Hi Kay,

I'm glad that it was useful!

Warm regards,


Thanks for the blog ideas. I don't have a SmartBoard so I really appreciate the ideas!!!

[Edit: Response]

Hi Andrea,

I hope that the ideas help!



Justin- GREAT idea! We don't have smart boards, but we can definitely adapt like you have! Thanks for sharing such a great idea! Laura

Not only can you project your core texts, but you can easily go to a relative online resource or show a slideshow of photos. The possibilities are endless. Thanks for sharing.

Great ideas! I now have a SmartBoard, but before I would project things up on my whiteboard as well. I really do think it makes a difference for kids when they are following along, especially in the younger grades. I teach fourth grade, and there is a lot of that "where are we?" going on. I used an overhead projector a lot, but scanning and using the projector is much better. I will share this with some teachers in my school that do not have SmartBoards yet! Thanks!

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