Monday, April 26, 2010

SMART User Conference Reflection

Saturday, I attended the first annual Central Illinois SMART User Conference (SMART Feast) held at the Bloomington Junior High School in District 87.  Bloomington Junior High is well on its way to becoming a SMART school, with Smart boards in most classrooms.  In addition to getting to play around with a SMART Table, I met some amazing local educators that are just as excited about integrating technology as I am. 

The first session I attended was entitled ENGAGE:  ENcourage, Grow, Achieve, Gain understanding, Expand - Using SMART capture tools in Grades 3-8 Classrooms.  Here, I learned about a few free websites used in conjunction with the capture tool on the Smart board.  The first websites are EduPic  and Pics4Learning.  both contain an online library of free photographs and graphics for educational purposes.  A really cool site is, which allows kids to create avatars of themselves.  The teacher presenting then used the capture tool on her Smart board to capture the avatars they created and made a seating chart out of them. Another really neat website is  You use the capture tool on your Smart board to capture any image you want and then import it into JigsawPlanet.  This site then breaks up your picture into a puzzle.  You can then recapture each individual piece to use on your smart board for your kids to manipulate. Another example of the capture tool was to simply use it to capture any image you discussed in class (bar graph, math problems, maps, etc) and use that exact image on the test over the material.  Another free tool discussed in this session was Wordle - a site used to generate “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Finally, this session talked about KissYouTube - a site that makes downloading and importing YouTube Videos easier. 

The second (and best) session I attended was entitled "SMART boards and Web 2.0 tools."  The presenter was Jim Hollis, education consultant and author of a famous blog called "Teachers Love Smart Boards." He discussed how Web 2.0 tools are the future of education and showed us several fantastic tools highlighted in his blog. 

The third session I attended was on how to use the Smart board to teach 6 + 1 Trait Writing. The instructors showed a few premade notebook files where students used pull tabs to reveal editing marks...a waste of time and not worth mentioning further.

The final session was a networking session.  Here, I met an English teacher from Bethel Lutheran and quickly began discussing our language arts curriculum.  This teacher mentioned how it would be nice to network with other local language arts teachers to collaborate and share ideas.  As a result of this conversation, I went home and created a message board/ forum called the Tri-County Language Arts Educators (trila for short).  I hope this becomes a local learning network where 5th - high school level language arts teachers from Woodford, Tazewell, and Peoria counties come to talk about their craft.  So far, there's only member besides myself  (thanks Jeanenne!) but I hope it catches on!

The closing session was the prize giveaways.  Throughout the day, presenters handed out Bradfield Bucks that participants could put into drawings.  The prizes included a Smart board, response clickers, a Smart ELMO (all my bucks went into a chance at winning this one), best buy gift certificates, and much more.  I didn't win a thing, but walked away satisfied about the day.  Overall, the first Annual Central Illinois SMART User Conference was a success.  I hope to be in attendance next year!

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