Using a Smartboard does require a shift in your thinking, as you consider using a graphical interface in conjunction with your teaching.
Don't worry, though. It's easy to get started and move gradually toward a more interactive/graphical approach.



In its simplest form, the Smartboard serves as an electronic blackboard. Use it as you would a chalkboard, with the added benefit of multiple pen colors and being able to refer back to earlier screens--and to save your scribblings for another lesson, without anything getting erased in the interim.Next, consider setting up a series of screens in advance, so many of the elements you would normally have to spend time writing on the board are already in place. Then you simply move from screen to screen. Your titles are there, and you can add more text/student contributions as planned, and go on to the next screen.Click here to view a video of a sample of this approach.
Download 31 Shaidim.notebook


Next, consider those activities you do with your students that easily lend themselves to graphical interfaces, especially those that involve student interaction. For example, I recently observed an Ivrit lesson where the teacher turned to the blackboard and spent five minutes writing sentences, each one with a missing word, and a series of words to choose from to fill in the missing spot. She called on students to come to the board and write in one of the words in a specific sentence; asked everyone, "Do you agree?"; and crossed off the used word from the list.

This kind of activity is perfect for the Smartboard. The teacher could have had the sentences on the Smartboard in advance, with the list of words on the side. Students would come up and actually slide their chosen word into the blank spot in the sentence. The activity could be set up to automatically tell the student "Correct!" or "Sorry, try again" if the word was used correctly (or not).

An activity that leads into a discussion of a Ramban on Beraishis 2:1 - the definition of השמים והארץ וכל צבאם:


Note that this led into a discussion of how צבאי השמים include both physical and spiritual elements. The activity served as an introduction to this concept. (Also note that I needed to use English in this flash activity, since the current version of the Lesson Activity Toolkit does not support Hebrew fonts.)

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Another easy-to-implement resource--depending on your subject--is the judicious use of videos in your classroom. This is one of my favorite usages of the Smartboard; I don't do it too often, but when I do it makes a big impact. These videos are usually short--usually not more than three minutes--but they grab students right into the lesson. If you can find a good video that fits your subject it works as a perfect introduction to a lesson; a segue from one topic to another; or a conclusion to pull all the pieces together.

Click here to see a sample video used to explain a topic in Chumash.

Some more examples of ways to use a video in your lesson:
  • Notebook software comes with a video called "Plants and Seeds." I used this as an introduction to beginning learning about יום שלישי in בראשית. Similarly, I found a video about animals online as an introduction to יום חמישי.
  • While learning פרק ג in בראשית, I wanted to teach the concept that we are very susceptible to first impressions--what our eyes initially see often cannot be erased, even when the true facts emerge. I found a video on Aish online describing how news agencies deliberately manipulated photo and video coverage of the Lebanon war. While the truth eventually came out, the video asserts, it was "too little, too late." This led to a discussion right on my topic--a perfect way to bring it to life for students.
  • In a unit on מדות, specifically anger, I began with a discussion question, then played a video (also found on Aish) about the Mandell family, who took the grief and anger over their son's murder by terrorists and channeled it in a very positive direction. It led students to recognize that their own feelings (albeit on a much smaller scale!) can and shoud be channeled correctly.
  • I sometimes keep a video in reserve that I know they'll enjoy. My class really liked the animal video, and they sometimes ask for it again, so I'll use it as a way to keep them focused on the day right before vacation with the promise that they'll get to see it in the last three minutes of class!


Finally, Smartboards are particularly effective as a tool for assessment and review. Do you play a game with your students to review before a test? Do it graphically! The software comes with many tools that you can use to set up question/answer screens in a fun, interactive way.

Click here to see some samples.

None of these ideas require a tremendous shift in your thinking, but you'll find it makes a big difference in your classroom. And as you continue to use the Smartboard (and explore the resources this guide has to offer) you'll find yourself thinking in new ways and coming up with more interactive/visual activities for your lessons.

It's also very helpful to see what other people are doing. Those of us who teach Judaic subjects are at a disadvantage here, as there are many samples out there for math, science, english, social studies, but very little for chumash, navi and tefillah. If you teach elementary school, though, I encourage you to check out the english and social studies lessons that are available. Many of them can be easily adapted for teaching skills in limudei kodesh.

Click here for links to other Smartboard lessons to give you some ideas for your own.