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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

The “Smart” Thing to Do After Spring Break
Ann Stephenson

The state testing is over, as well as spring break and the pressure is easing. However, there are still eight to ten weeks of school left on the calendar and the only thoughts on the minds of the students are Field Day, Career Day and any other fun activity that has been saved for the end of the year.

It’s time to engage them in a group project. Since you will still need grades for the last report card, this multi-assessment venture should fit the bill.  Create a newsletter, revise and edit it on a Smartboard to benefit the entire class, and help to prepare their writing skills no matter what age they are. The students enjoy using the colorful markers and will learn all aspects of making a newsletter.

Helpful Hints

  • Use only the markers and eraser that were provided with the board.
  • Do not use chalk, crayons or other markers on the Smartboard.
  • Your finger can be used for writing as long as one of the markers is removed from the cradle.
  • Open the floating tools palette by locating the Smartboard icon at the right part of the menu bar and pull it down.
  • The Smartboard provides for the various learning styles of your students: tactile, visual and audio.

Getting Started

Bring a newspaper, a children’s newsletter or brochure to class. Allow the students to read and see all the features of this form of writing and publication. Then divide the class into groups of three or four, each group being as academically diverse as possible. Let the students brainstorm and then write the article ideas on the Smartboard.

Open a desktop publishing software such as Microsoft Office Publisher and show it to the students via the Smartboard. Decide on a manageable length; I’ve found four pages works well (bigger is not necessarily better in the beginning). Show them the layout and where the articles will be placed in the newsletter.

Discuss writing style and have them write a practice article for homework, such as “Why It’s Important to Eat a Healthy Breakfast before a Test.” If they are of an appropriate age, you may ask them to research their article on the Internet and have them cite two websites as their resources. Each student will then write the article for homework and compare it to that of the other students in their group. They can collaborate (or not) to produce a final article. Read these aloud for a greater understanding of what the articles should sound and look like.

The students then begin working in their groups to produce their articles which may include any of the following: news (in the classroom or school), feature writing, student of the month interview and picture, sports, field trips, cartoons and puzzle page.

After the students have written their rough drafts, have them type it into the template and then have the whole class revise and edit the work. A scanner can add professionalism to the work by providing pictures, drawings, puzzles, etc. After the paper is complete, have a “publishing” party and print enough copies for each member of the class.

Not only is this a fun project, it will also provide you with grades for reading, language arts, technology skills, revising, and editing. You could probably squeeze out a social studies grade as well.

See also:

How to Integrate a SMARTboard into Your Teaching by Allisyn Levy

Newsletters for Smarties by Carl Sannito

Smartboard Tips and Techniques

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail me.


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