Archive for July, 2008

Cathy and Tim in Boston for BLC 2008

Posted on July 18, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Follow Cathy Arnold and Tim Cushman at the Building Learning Conference in Boston at

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SMART’s Notebook Software Version 10

Posted on July 13, 2008. Filed under: Elementary School, English/Language Arts, General, High School, Instructional Coaches, Interactive Whiteboards, Middle School, Science, Teachers | Tags: , , , |

by Tim Van Heule

I recently downloaded Notebook Software Version 10 from SMART Technologies. As a SMART Exemplary Educator, and a former Peer Educator, I like to make sure that the training and support I provide on SMART products is current and knowledgeable.

There are many great features that have been added or improved upon. The “Alignment Tool” is one that many teachers have been most excited about – aligning objects on the page is easy now. And the “Properties Tab” has combined all of the object options in one place, including new object action additions. Of course there are new pens – the “Magic Pen” and the “Shape Recognition Pen.” The “Table Tool” is also a welcome addition, including features for text and screen shades in each cell.

The only concern I have relates to the inital installation of the software. You have to enter in the serial number from the board in order to receive the product key needed to activate the software. Finding the serial number is not difficult; depending on the model of the board, the serial number is either on the bottom of the pen tray or on the back of the board. The serial number also always starts with “SB” for SMART Board. The product key is emailed to the user. My concern arose because I imagined teachers across the county struggling at they tried to locate their serial number, getting the email and then entering in the product key. I have since learned that the product key can be used multiple times, even throughout the entire school. So, if the product key can be used throughout the school, why do you need it anyway?

Any previous versions of SMART Notebook also need to be removed, along with the driver, but do not remove the gallery.

I’ve been using SMART products for the past five years, and I think that this release is one of the more exciting software upgrades from SMART. Have your serial number available and download Version 10 at this link today.

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Interesting Science Stuff

Posted on July 7, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Kevin Merritt, Instructional Technology (and science teacher)

Are you looking for some “fresh meat” for your science lessons this year?  Science can be fun, but sometimes we need to use some new tricks from our old bag.  Try some of these…


Sometimes I am just amazed at what scientists “dig up.”  Each year the International Institute for Species Exploration (IISE) publishes their TOP 10 list of new species (new to scientists) from the past year.  There are, of course, many more species that are new to scientists each year.  These are just the “10 best,” so to speak…

Check out this site to see some absolutely INCREDIBLE images taken at the NANO microscopic level.  These would be great discussion topics or visual writing prompts for some writing across the curriculum.  They also makes some great backgrounds for your Windows wallpaper!

Do you want something GROSS to get your students interested in science?  Check out this gross site put together by Discovery kids.  Be prepared for some lively discussion in class!

Most students like to learn about snakes, even though they may not like them.  Check out this slithery site.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) has a neat site for Astronomical topics here.  You can click on the objects in the picture for more information and images.  The menu across the top takes you to other topics of interest.

Make your earth science more interesting with some of these links:  Volcanoes, Minerals, Weather

This is NOT an exhaustive list, but just a few things I ran across while surfing.


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Super Stories: Comics and Digital Storytelling

Posted on July 1, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Cushman

Comics and education?  Can their be a more juxtaposed pairing?  The idea of using comics to teach is inconceivable for many like me who spent tedious hours in the elementary classroom listening to a lecture on this historical character or that scientific principle while nervously eying my best friend the next row over as he drew the story playing out  in his head.  Inevitably, he would be caught and would face the full ire of a peeved teacher.  The fact is, telling a good story is a very difficult thing to do.  I don’t mean telling a story that simply entertains (although there is a place for that).  Rather, using storytelling, and in this case comics, as a means to communicate a powerful idea in a concise way.

The standard needs to be set high.  I like to make the comparison to Hollywood films.  A good movie that tells a powerful story in a powerful way wins an Oscar.  Movies that may enjoy a certain amount of the mainstream spotlight and are in some way sensational may generate revenue but do not necessarily reflect good storytelling.  We need to get our students to produce “Oscar-worthy” digital stories.  This is very difficult and requires a great deal of thought and creativity.  The challenge to be creative and innovative is what our students need.  Jobs requiring knowledge are outsourced.  Jobs requiring innovation and cooperation within a diverse community never will be.  This is the future we are preparing them for.  Enough pontificating from my soap box… offers a new take on digital storytelling by turning your digital photos into a comic-style format.  The effect is appealing.  All you need is a digital camera for taking pictures of the “characters” in the comic.  Comeeko will add the unique comic-styling.  What could you do with Comeeko?

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    The School District of Greenville County – Instructional Technology Department


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