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Feature articles

Read in-depth feature articles designed to help you succeed with your SMART products. These articles highlight classroom success stories, technology trends and provide plenty of teaching resources.

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Improving Formative Assessment

In a recent article, assessment expert, Rick Stiggins, founder of the Assessment Training Institute, explains that, “If we wish to maximize student achievement in the U.S., we must pay far greater attention to the improvement of classroom assessment.” While Stiggins believes both summative and formative assessments are important for schools, his work focuses on taking formative assessment to a new level, which he calls assessment for learning (as opposed to assessment of learning). Stiggins and others have found that improved formative assessment benefits teachers and students. Student achievement increases, students become more confident and are motivated to learn, while teachers are able to make decisions about instruction based on accurate data.

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Success stories

Moving Forward With Differentiation

Author, educator and differentiation expert Carol Tomlinson defines differentiation as tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction. Teacher April Giddens applies this definition in her classroom but offers her own, more emphatic, definition, as she says, “Differentiation is simply fantastic!” On any given day you’ll find the students in Giddens’ sixth-grade language arts classes at Natchitoches Magnet School in Natchitoches, Louisiana, writing songs and poems, creating skits and even developing interactive games to play with their classmates on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard – all in the name of differentiating instruction to help students succeed in the classroom. Giddens, the 2012 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, has been employing differentiation as a teaching strategy for her entire 16-year teaching career. “I’ve always used differentiation in my classroom.

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Empowering Teachers With Tools for Success

“If I was into tattoos, I’d have tattoos of SMART all over my body! I’ve been crazy about SMART products since I first got a SMART Board interactive whiteboard in my classroom,” laughs Tamika Jordan, a Curriculum Technologist and SMART Exemplary Educator at Avondale Elementary School in West Memphis, Arkansas. In 2010, Jordan was honored with a Milken Educator Award and Avondale Elementary was named a Blue Ribbon Lighthouse School and later became a SMART Showcase School. “2010 was a big year for us and all of the recognition that we received was tied into our effective use of technology,” explains Jordan. In her role as a curriculum technologist, Jordan provides training, models technology integration and collaborates with teachers to develop lesson plans that integrate technology. “Two years ago the principal approached me to fill the curriculum technologist role. She said, either you can keep your fire and passion for technology in your classroom for the benefit of your 20 children, or you can take on this new role and share your fire with all of our teachers and touch all 700 of our children. With that perspective, it was easy to make my decision,” says Jordan.

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The Flipped Classroom 101

In 2007, science teachers Jonathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park, Colorado, started recording lectures for students to watch as homework and using class time to guide students as they worked on assignments, creating the flipped classroom model. Since then, flipped classrooms have been popping up in schools throughout North America. In fact, departments – and even entire schools – have begun using the flipped classroom model. Teachers say that “flipping” helps student s develop a deeper understanding of classroom materials, reduces failure rates and improves test scores.

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Strategically Achieving Funding Success

Shannon Donovan is known for extending her teaching beyond the four walls of her classroom by involving her science students at Scituate High School in Rhode Island in a variety of applied learning projects. Students explore environmental science concepts by restoring the walking trail behind the school, share their physical science knowledge by showcasing energy efficiency and renewable energy concepts to the community and discover more about plant propagation by growing plants in the greenhouse for a community plant sale. So when Donovan was named Rhode Island Teacher of the Year in 2011 and received a Teaching Excellence Award (TEA) Technology Classroom from SMART, she could further expand learning in her classroom through interactive lessons and easily gauge student understanding with formative assessments.

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Transforming Learning through Exploration and Collaboration

With a background in drama and theatre, Marcy Stein brings a touch of magic to each of the math, English and drama classes she teaches at Bialik High School in Montreal, Quebec. Stein is a SMART Exemplary Educator and was recently honored with the 2010-2011 Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence. With a SMART Board interactive whiteboard in her classroom, Stein loves to use SMART Notebook collaborative learning software to create lessons that capture students’ attention.

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Inspiring Early Learners in El Paso

When the Internet and personal technology devices became prevalent, Monica Wong might have thought that her role as a librarian would take a backseat. She could have even perpetuated the idea that libraries are dusty, silent places used solely for academic endeavors and research. Instead, as head librarian at the Jenna Welch and Laura Bush Community Library in El Paso, Texas, Wong transformed the library into a vibrant, bustling place at the heart of learning and discovery for an entire community.

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Speaking From Experience

In Jerelyn Hurley’s classroom, students have explored the Arizona desert, held a giant boa constrictor in their arms, made green slime and learned how a mummy is mummified. And while these experiences may seem like an unusual way for students to learn the English Language, they are a key part of the award-winning ELA program called Real Life Language.

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The Power to Empower

If you’ve ever been to an educational technology conference, attended software training or searched for #edtech on Twitter, you’ve probably been part of conversations about how classroom technology can engage students in lessons or how it helps them learn important technology skills. But for educators like Jill Gierach, who has turned her passion for classroom technology into a career, it can be more than engaging – it can be the bridge to a fuller life for many students.

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Grants Turn Wishes Into Reality

When Renee Fruge received a SMART Board interactive whiteboard for her classroom, she did what any other teacher whose time and effort have paid off would do. She danced the bunny hop with her students. Receiving the interactive whiteboard was a dream come true for Fruge, who had wanted it for her classroom since she’d first seen one in action. But her victory dance was celebrating more than just the product. She was also celebrating the way she received her SMART Board interactive whiteboard – through a grant.

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Experiencing Exponential Growth in Math

“Math is a beautiful and elegant way of understanding our natural and human-made world.”

This sentiment from Dr. Cathy Bruce may explain why she has chosen a career that focuses on enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics. Bruce, who is an associate professor at the School of Education and Professional Learning at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada, says that one of the biggest issues in math education today is the divide between how experienced in-service teachers were taught mathematics as children and what current research confirms as effective practices for teaching math.

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An Early Start to Engagement

“Working by themselves, sitting at a desk, is not what 21st-century learners should be doing” is Diane Ireland’s viewpoint. And she should know. Ireland teaches a room full of students who were born in the 21st century – they don’t remember what it was like before iPods and Google™ entered classrooms around the world.

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Energizing Science Lessons

Ian Fogarty’s science classes sometimes begin with a story – a real-life example that motivates his students to find the answer or conduct an experiment themselves. Other times, Fogarty asks a question, like the day he surprised his Science 12 class with a big question that led to a class project.

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Improving STEM engagement

Students participating in the NetGeneration of Youth Cyberjournalists program love STEM subjects. Thanks to the program, teachers are learning to use technology and resources to introduce students to exciting careers in STEM subject areas while developing students’ knowledge and skills in these crucial subjects.

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Little kids. Big learning

Project-based learning isn’t just for big kids. Two SMART Exemplary Educators share their methods for combining project-based learning with SMART products to open the world to early learners. The results are both inspiring and amazing.

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Oh-my-goodness moments

From improved communication to increased attention spans - we’ll tell you about the advances students with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are making with a little help from the SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

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Buy right

Don’t let your technology purchase gather dust in the corner. Learn how including teachers in the process of selecting classroom technology leads to successful implementation and adoption.

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Seamless integration

Want to know the key to a successful technology purchase? Educators point to one word - integration. Read how schools maximize their equipment purchases by considering how new technology fits with their existing tools and technology plans.

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Ideas and Tactics to Help You Raise Funds for Classroom Technology

Whether you’re looking for a few unique fundraising ideas or searching for ways to make your grant applications stand out from the crowd, it always helps to have ideas and tips for raising money for technology purchases. From note cards created using SMART Notebook™ collaborative learning software and trivia nights held with the help of SMART Response™ interactive response system, we’ve assembled advice from educators who’ve been there.

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Classroom Technology is Key to Success at Title 1 Schools

In Jocelyn Johnson’s eighth-grade art class at Parks Middle School, students are eagerly raising their hands. Johnson is teaching a unit on impressionism and has pulled images of paintings up on her SMART Board™ interactive whiteboard. She picks one student who jumps up and correctly identifies the Monet painting as an impressionist work. While it may seem like a typical art class, Johnson is doing much more than teaching art. She is helping to paint a new future for disadvantaged students.

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Exceptional Students, Extraordinary Learning

Exceptional students. For the teachers who work with them, the term is fitting. Although they are often defined by their achievements or challenges – or in some cases, both – what’s truly exceptional about these students are their unique views and needs when it comes to learning, and the impact their presence has on the classroom.

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Technology trends

Creating Informative Assessments

Ask people what the word assessment means to them, and they'll probably use words like test or achievement or standardization. And while these words can be used to define more traditional summative assessment methods, educators like Cara Elliott and Gary Alylward are coming up with creative ways to assess understanding during a lesson, inspiring their students to say things like "Can we do that again?" or "That was so fun!"

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Investing in engagement

Are you wondering how to invest your ARRA funds in ways that will have long-lasting effects on student outcomes? Get new ideas from top district and school administrators who share their plans for successful spending.

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Connections that count

Find out how hands-on use of SMART products combined with guidance from experienced partner teachers is making it easy for new teachers to adopt technology.

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Enriched learning environments

Teachers share their methods for using SMART products to create flexible classrooms that meet individual student needs. From appealing to different learning styles to creating active lessons, these teachers have students immersed in learning from bell to bell.

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Teaching resources

Real Life Professional Development Practices

Michelle Mandley trains teachers at her school to use SMART Board interactive whiteboards. Katie Booth flew to Shanghai, China, to train teachers at an international school. And David Lopez and his colleagues created an online Moodle course to help busy teachers find time to participate in professional development sessions for the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Although these three educators have different PD roles, they all have a shared passion for helping teachers use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard to its full potential.

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Lesson Transformation Has Rewards for Teachers and Students

Most teachers have at least one – a lesson topic that poses a perennial challenge, either because students consider it boring or they find the concept too difficult to fully grasp. Sometimes it’s a combination of both.

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Boost Your Content Creation Know-How

Aly Fox didn’t instinctively know how to create engaging, effective lesson activities before she started using her SMART Board™ interactive whiteboard. But after some exploration and investigation, she’s now a SMART Exemplary Educator, a SMART Trade Show Teacher and part of the reason Palmview Elementary is a SMART Showcase School.

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Practice makes perfect

Developing creative and critical thinking skills that are essential for students to succeed in math and prepare them for today’s top careers. Discover how math teachers are using SMART products, math problems with multiple solutions and a lot of practice to help students develop these skills.

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It's all about the learner

New friends, knowledge and the trip of a lifetime - these are only a few of the benefits you'll receive by taking part in the Connections program. Past student and teacher participants share stories about the impact this program had on their lives - along with a few of their favorite memories.

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Learning through touch

From the planning stages to the first classroom installation, development of the multitouch SMART Table has been focused on meeting students’ learning needs. Read how teachers and students are using the SMART Table and how their input has helped shape this unique product.

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Building better lessons

Adding interactivity to lessons is easier when you have digital content and a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. From math classes to language arts lessons, five teachers share how they use digital resources to enhance student learning.

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Support programs

Real Life Professional Development Practices

Michelle Mandley trains teachers at her school to use SMART Board interactive whiteboards. Katie Booth flew to Shanghai, China, to train teachers at an international school. And David Lopez and his colleagues created an online Moodle course to help busy teachers find time to participate in professional development sessions for the SMART Board interactive whiteboard. Although these three educators have different PD roles, they all have a shared passion for helping teachers use the SMART Board interactive whiteboard to its full potential.

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Granting Access to Classroom Technology

When it comes to creating education initiatives that enhance teaching and learning, teachers and school leaders are rarely short on ideas. More likely, it’s the funding that might fall short. That’s where federal funds such as the Enhancing Education Through Technology stimulus funds come in – helping schools and districts that are trying to create more dynamic learning environments through the use of classroom technology.

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The Power of Professional Development

At Bailey Elementary, training teachers how to use SMART products isn’t really the main focus. Rather, learning effective and innovative ways to teach with SMART products is.

As a technology resource teacher, Kelly Derushia is in charge of providing professional development for teachers using SMART products at Bailey Elementary, which is located in a rural area just outside of Tampa, Florida.

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Differentiated Instruction

Lisa Parisi doesn’t believe in teaching to the top of the class, to the bottom, or even to the middle. She believes in using every available tool, resource and strategy to reach every student in her classroom.

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Lending a Voice to Learning

If there was a formula for creating effective and inclusive learning environments, the SMART Inclusion team at Upper Canada District School Board could very well be credited with its invention.

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Finding Funding

Whether you’re looking for a few unique fundraising ideas or searching for ways to make your grant applications stand out from the crowd, it always helps to have ideas and tips for raising money for technology purchases.

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21st-century hallways

If you aren’t using Twitter, Ning and Plurk, you may be missing some of the best professional development available. Teachers use these sites to find the latest resources, ideas, advice and best practices - most of which is created by teachers for teachers. See for yourself what teachers are learning from these newfound Web 2.0 resources.

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Start with a pencil

From scented pencils to trivia nights, teachers share their most successful technology fundraising projects. They also discuss the positive spin-offs that come from introducing parents and the community to classroom technology through fundraisers.

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Supporting Your School

When Darlene Rankin, Director of Instructional Technology for the Katy Independent School District, and her team want to have another interactive whiteboard installed at one of their district’s 52 schools, they turn to SMART for SMART Board interactive whiteboards.

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Reaching every learner

Using technology to differentiate instruction can motivate students, accommodate different learning styles and much more. Experienced educators provide 6 reasons why you should consider using technology to differentiate instruction in your classroom.

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Ready when the bell rings

Save time and eliminate stress with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard and SMART Notebook collaborative learning software. Teachers explain that using these tools to prepare lesson activities, organize content and store resources can keep your lesson planning under control.

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Kicking it up a notch

Teachers and students from Oregon’s Springfield Middle School take learning to a new level with the help of a 1:1 learning initiative. Learn how students and teachers at this school are succeeding thanks to a new school-wide approach to teaching and learning.

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The places you will go

What will your students discover today? From delivering presentations to creating visual representations of ideas, educators discuss how students and teachers can use interactive whiteboards to enhance project-based learning.

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Digging deeper

Make learning more authentic for your students with digital content and interactive technology. Educators discuss how using digital resources helps students reach a higher level of learning.

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Going the distance

Whether they’re connecting with classrooms across town or across the continent, teachers are using distance education tools to shrink the world for their students. Read how some teachers are using these tools to give every student access to the education they deserve.

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Recipe for success

Take a dynamic, tech-savvy teacher, add a dash of SMART technology products, stir in a host of students eager to learn and you have a recipe for raising achievement in the classroom.

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SMART Champions

SMART Exemplary Educators are a growing legion of creative, enthusiastic and successful educators. Read a few examples of the inventive ways these champions use SMART products to reach students and encourage learning success.

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Differentiation - it's all about technology

Worcester Technical High School has a 99% graduation rate, the lowest drop-out rate in the city of Worcester, the highest attendance for students and faculty, and hardly any discipline problems. Discover why school staff attribute their success to differentiated instruction made possible, in part, by SMART products.

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Assessing the Senteo way

Can you imagine your students cheering for a test? Or knowing every day whether students understood your lesson? Those are just a few of the benefits teachers report when using the Senteo interactive response system (now called SMART Response). Learn more about what teachers say this product can do for your students.

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Blog on

From sharing personal education philosophies to creating resource portals, teachers around the world are finding their voices by blogging. Whether you're interested in creating your own blog or walk to find a few new blogs to visit, we've got what you are looking for.

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Taking fundraising to the next level

Need money for technology? Move beyond the bake sale. We have creative ideas for raising technology funds that offer big returns for schools.

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Summer's out. Technology's in.

Learn how you can make the most of your SMART Board interactive whiteboard from the first day of school until the last. From technical support and digital resources to peer support and professional development, we’ll show you a multitude of resources you won’t want to miss.

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Reaching Their True Potential

Exceptional students. For the teachers who work with them, the term is fitting. Although they are often defined by their achievements or challenges – or in some cases, both – what’s truly exceptional about these students are their unique views and needs when it comes to learning, and the impact their presence has on the classroom.

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