Getting Started with SMART Notebook – the Basics

For those of you that are new to SMART notebook v.10 I have written a “Beginners Guide to..” to try and help make it easier for you to get started with playing around with what notebook can offer. As well as giving an overview of what the different buttons and tabs mean on the notebook interface, I have also given basic instructions for completing simple tasks such as inserting text, images etc., importing PowerPoints etc. You can download the Guide here.

When you become confident in using Notebook, you can explore some of the other posts here (under the categories of IWB and SMART notebook) to find some ideas for more advanced use of the board.

10 Tips, Tricks and Activities for use on the IWB

During the first ICT in Practice meeting as well as the ideas discussed in the previous posts, I looked at 10 practical tips, tricks and activities for using your IWB  for getting started in creating resources using notebook. Staff from St Ivo can download the notebook file I used here (password protected – see me); however anyone who uses SMART board can access any of the special activity tools which are available from SMART in the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit (instructions for access and downloading here).

1. Highlighting Lesson Objectives

objectivesWe all know that good lessons require clear lesson objectives which are not only clear to us but to the students as well. There are various ways in which we can share our objectives with students and tools on the IWB help provide some new ideas for doing this which are also designed to help staff keep reinforcing objectives throughout a lesson.

1. The Scroll Bar tool which can be found in the SMART lesson activity toolkit can be used to keep objectives visible during a lesson, or to highlight individual objectives relevant to a particular part of the lesson, by simply being embedded at the top or bottom of a SMART notebook page.

2. Using a pull tab, objectives can remain hidden and simply pulled out from the side of the page whenever you want to remind students during the lesson of what they are working towards, or to link what you are doing to a specific learning objective. To create this there are 6 quick and easy stages:

1. Create a rectangle of the size required and shade in an appropriate colour (it will need to be given a ‘fill’ colour, even this is only white – if not, if transparent whatever is below the objectives will be shown when you pull out the tab meaning that it cannot be read clearly)

2. Write the text you want to be shown (i.e. objectives, reminders etc.)

3. Select the text by clicking on it, then hold down the ctrl (control) button and select the rectangle as well. Right click and select ‘Grouping’ and then ‘Group.

4. You then need to get the ‘Pull tab’ graphic – to select this click on the Gallery and select the lesson activity toolkit – choose ‘Graphics’ from the list and then select ‘Pull Tabs’ – if they are not shown, click on the ‘Picture and Backgrounds’ tab to show all pull tabs available. Simply choose the one you want and drag it over to the notebook page and position it next to your text box.

5. You now need to group these all together – simply select the pull tab by clicking on it, hold down control and click on the box to select it. Then right click, select ‘Grouping’ and ‘Group

6. You have now created one object which you can drag to the side with just pull showing to drag out whenever needed!

Both of these tools could of course be put to other uses – e.g. reminders of key dates, reminders regarding homework, key vocab words required during a lesson constantly scrolling round the top of a page etc!


2. Using Video

You can easily INSERT video files into your notebook file, however to insert them within a notebook page they will need to be in the format of a Flash Video file. You can easily convert files from their original format to .flv (Flash Video format) using the Zamzar tool. You can also use this tool to easily download useful video clips from YouTube and other online video sites which you can then use in your lessons. For full instruction of how to do this, see my other post on Capturing Digital Video.

Once you have your video file ready, simply open up SMART notebook, click on Insert, select Flash Video File.., browse to the location of your file, select and click open.

Annotating your video! If you are trying to analyse the video content, for example looking at a screenplay in Media Studies, studying character profiles in a Shakespeare play in English, looking at landform formation in geography etc. it is possible to pause the video at the point you want to talk about, discuss and add annotations to the paused clip using the SMARTboard pens. Then simply use the capture tool to take a screen shot of your annotated video – this will put a copy of the screen with the annotations into another page of the notebook. To continue watching the video, simply get rid of the annotations quickly (this can be done by selecting the eraser, circling the whole area you want to erase and double click in the middle – the annotations will disappear – you can use this trick to erase any large areas of text, drawing etc. that you don’t want!).


3. Using the Wordbiz tool as a starter for Vocab development

wordbiz1Wordbiz is one of the interactive activities taken straight from the SMART lesson activity toolkit. To access this select the Gallery tab, then ‘Games’ and then ‘wordbiz’. This is great for testing vocabulary and a nice little starter or plenary activity. To edit and add questions, simply drag Wordbiz from the gallery to your notebook page. Then select edit and your questions and answers (you can have up to 8 questions). To play the game, students are given the question and they have to use the letters given to spell out the key word correctly in the time allowed. Good for checking both vocab development and spelling!!


4. Using the Checker Tool as a Starter / Plenary

checker1This is a great little tool from the SMART lesson activity toolkit. To find it, go to the Gallery tab and select Learning Activity Toolkit – click on ‘Tools’ and then ‘Tools’ again, click on where it says ‘Interactive and Multimedia ‘ and find the checker tool – drag it across to the notebook page to use it. You can add as many as you like!

You can use these in a variety of ways – one is for adding labels to diagrams. To do this:

  • Insert your diagram to your notebook page (I suggest you then lock it: select it, right click, select ‘Locking’ and then ‘lock in place’.)
  • You then need to add a word box of possible labels which students can choose from. IMPORTANT – you must make sure you create each label separately so they can be dragged separately.
  • Now you need to add arrows or lines to the parts of the diagram you want labelled using the line tool (again I suggest you lock these in place).
  • At the end of each line / arrow, now add a checker tool. Click on the double arrow on the top left of the tool and enter the correct answer (be sure to tick whether it should be case sensitive or not) – when done click ok and repeat for the other labels

Now its ready to be used! When the correct label is dragged onto the checker tool – it will say ‘Good job’ or if wrong ‘try again’.

The example I used of labelling the ear (as shown in screen shot) is taken directly from the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit (click Gallery_Tools_Tools_Examples to find)


5. Using the Random Image Tool

checker_tool1This enables you to collect together a set of images which will then be shown randomly when you click on the tool. There are many possible uses, for example in geography, different landforms which you want students to then explain the characteristics and formation of; in history, characters from the past that students then are asked questions about; in languages objects for students to give the translation of etc.

Again, this can be found in the SMART lesson activity toolkit (Gallery Tab_Lesson Activity Toolkit) and then click on Tools, Tools again and the random image tool is close to the end so scroll down. To edit:

  • drag across the random image tool to the notebook page
  • double click the edit arrow on the tool
  • insert any images you want to use into notebook as normal and then drag them straight into the tool
  • you can just keep dragging images on to the tool to add more.

The example in the screenshot, which I showed yesterday is available for download in the Tools_Examples part of the Lesson Activity Toolkit.

There are other great tools simillar to this in the Toolkit which are well worth exploring – e.g. random word generator, random number generator, dice etc. Enjoy!


6. Magic Paper

magicpaper2All we are doing here is using different coloured text and backgrounds to make words or sentences visible and invisible. This is useful for setting quiz questions on the board which you can then easily go over with the class and can be put to use in many different curriculum subjects.

  1. Simply begin by creating a rectangle on either the left or right hand side of the page.
  2. Right click on the rectangle and select properties and then using “Fill Effects” choose a colour to fill your rectangle, a mid-tone colour works best. If it is too dark, black wont show up and if it is too light white wont show up, but you can play around with what works best for you.
  3. Create your text by the side of the rectangle – this could be quiz questions and their answers, key terms and their definitions, mathematical equations and their answers etc. You must however make sure that you create it as one selectable piece of text, do not break the question and answer into two.
  4. Then select the answer / definition etc. that you want initially to be invisible by highlighting it and from the font format box change the text colour to white.
  5. When you then drag this over onto your magic paper, both the question and answer will appear, when you drag it back the ‘answer’ will disappear as the white text once again blends with the white background – simple!

  6.  ————————————–

7. Using the “Order function” to create simple sorting activities


In this example I took a clipart image of an envelope and put it in the middle of my notebook page. Around the image there were names of landforms which were glacial or periglacial in origin. The aim was to sort the landforms into the two types by putting all the glacial landforms in the envelope. If students got it right the landform name would disappear when they drag it onto the envelope, if not the landform would stay visible so they drag it back. This can be adapted for any sorted activity – you could for example in english, distinguishing between verbs and adjectives and the image can be changed accordingly – for example you could have a clip art image of a post box for words to be ‘posted’!

To do this simply use the ‘order’ function. Insert your image and text – then taking each text box in turn you need to ‘order’ it. Anything that is correct and you want to disappear when dragged on to your image, right click, select ‘order’ and ‘send to back’. You are then ready for students to sort – any ‘correct’ answers that you have set to be sent to the back will disappear when you drag them over an image, whereas anything that is ‘wrong’ will stay showing.


8. Using Multimedia

multimedia1It is easy to add a variety of multimedia to a notebook to make it more interactive and to make use of a varity of audio-visual images. Simply select the ‘Insert’ option on the toolbar, select the type of file you want to insert and you will then need to use the browse function to locate on your computer or memory pen the resource you want inserting. Remember if you are adding video files to actually be embedded in the notebook page that you will need to make sure it is in a Flash Video format (with the extension .flv). Video files can easily be converted to .flv files using software available online, for example zamzar.

In this example I inserted sound files of descriptions of weather in french, alongside images of the weather types that students had to match them up to. I used a pull tab (described in tip1 above) to provide the instructions which could be pulled out or tucked away!)


9. Rub and Reveal

rub-and-revealThis is a really simple technique which enables you to hide text, answers, photographs etc.. and then reveal quickly by simply moving the eraser over them. In my example I created a clozed style exercise, with a piece of text with some key words missing that students need to fill in.

  1. Simply insert your text, image etc. as normal.
  2. Select pen from the toolbar at the top, click on the formating button at the side and select Line style. Change the font colour to white (or the colour of the background you are working on) and select a thicker line depending on how big an area you want to mask.
  3. Then using your pen simply scrible over the word or image you want to make disappear. This will then cause it to blend with the background and to students appear invisible.
  4. You can then reveal the word/ image etc.. when going the exercise by simply using the eraser.

This is also a useful technique for when you want to hide small components of a page (which are too small to use the screenshade for).


10. Image Transparency and Transparent Overlays

There are two parts to this tip, but both involve the idea of transparency.



The first is setting part of an image transparent so it blends with the background. This is particularly useful if using clipart. Often an image will be on a whitebackground and if you are trying to insert this on a notebook page with a coloured background you are left with your image as a square with a white background. To make the white part of your image transparent, simply insert your image (to do this select ‘Insert’ (on toolbar), followed by ‘Picture File..’ and browse for your image). Then right click on your image and from the pop-up menu select ‘set picture transparency’, this will bring up your image in a little box, on this small thumbnail image click the colour you want to make transparent (e.g. if you want the white area to not show on a coloured background click on the white) and hey presto!



transparentmappicThe second part involves using the facility to control the transparency of an image which by overlaying images will enable the gradual reveal of an image below. Having followed a suggestion from Danny Nicholson I have used this to overlay a map and satellite picture of St Ives to help students studying the local area settlement unit to compare a map of the local area with the satellite image. To do this I have simply collected the two images that I want to overlay (in this instance using Google Maps). In order to ensure that the scale directly corresponded between the map and image so that the transparency option worked I ensured the size of the images were the same. I then used the ‘Order’ function to ensure the image I wanted on top was indeed in front. To do this, simply select the image showing, right click on it and from the pop up menu select ‘order’ and then select either ‘bring to

Thanks again to Danny Nicholson for the idea above. There is a useful video embedded below with Danny demonstrating this idea for the Whiteboard Challenge site

Using the SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit

Having discussed the SMART Lesson Activity toolkit in today’s session you can find out more about it in this post written earlier in the week with examples of what can be done.

To download the Learning Activity Toolkit at home, please follow the instructions in the other post.Remember you will need the SMART notebook software on your computer at home before you download the Activity Toolkit and this can be downloaded from the internet (for the product key see me)

If your computer at school doesn’t have it on, the network team have made it available for easy download with simple instructions for installation available here.

Handy Tools in SMART Notebook 10

With the new SMART notebook v.10 there are some very handy tools available. Remember many of these are in your floating tools tool bar, which means you can use them with resources other than just notebook, e.g. annotating / highlighting word documents, websites etc.. so it is worth getting used to them.

magicpenMAGIC PEN – you can use this to spotlight part of a picture – to do this simply select the pen option and draw a circle around what you would like spotlight. You can also use this tool to enlarge text / images by selecting the button and then drawing a box around what you would like to enlarge.


TEXT RECOGNISER (convert writing to text) – simply click on the writing and select the arrow which appears at the top of the selection, then simply choose the correct word from the list.

screenshadeSCREEN SHADE (hide and reveal text / images / resources as required – if you choose this whilst in notebook it will shade just the page. You can shade the whole screen by using the screen shade on the floating tools bar.

tableTABLE CREATER – an improvement in version 10, an easy way of creating tables (simply click on and select the number of rows and columns you want by highlighting the boxes).

captureCAPTURE TOOLS – this will bring up a small capture tool bar with 4 options (1) capture part of a page (drawn as a polygon), (2) capture a selected block (3) capture the whole page (4) capture a selected area, with this you have greatest control over what you capture.

Converting resources using SMART notebook

With SMART notebook v.10 it is easy to import resources from different sources as well as export your work in different formats.

You can import PowerPoints and convert them to notebook files (note however that animations will be lost). When notebook converts Powerpoint, any images or text are imported as separate objects this means that it becomes able to drag and drop them to increase interactivity.

exportIt is also possible to export notebook files in a number of formats, including powerpoints, web pages and image files. It is also possible to export as a .pdf format enabling files to then be shared more widely. For example notes created during a lesson, for example annotation of an essay could be converted to a .pdf file, uploaded to a blog and shared with students.


Simply click on File on the toolbar and select either import (to convert powerpoint files to notebook files) or export (to convert notebook files to another format).

Using SMART notebook to structure & organise lessons – “The Paperclip” (Attachments Tab)


Although you don’t have to be using notebook to make use of SMART notebook tools and the interactivity that an IWB can provide, as well as the ability to create interactive resources and integrate multimedia, notebook is also an excellent tool for structuring and organising lessons. The page view down the side enables you to easily flip between pages, revisiting ideas from earlier in the lesson, or even a previous lesson, helping students to link concepts.

Notebook v.10  also provides the function of ‘packaging’ together all resources relevant to a lesson in one area, regardless of resource type. The paperclip, is better known by SMART as the attachments tab! Within a lesson, you might use a video file, a sound clip, a website, a powerpoint, a word document as well as your notebook file. Rather than having to search for individual files across your computer, by using the paperclip you can save all the relevant files together to be accessed by just opening your notebook file!


  • keeps all resources needed in one place
  • helps maintain pace and fluidity of lesson
  • no frantic searching through folders whilst students try and tell you what you are doing wrong or are getting up to mischief!! (can help behaviour management in this way!)
  • keeps resources together for use in the future (no forgetting that fantastic resource you used last year and no having to look around for it either!)


attachmentstabThe Attachments tab is located to the left of the SMART notebook interface, underneath the Page Tab. Once you click on it, to add an attachment simply click on Insert at the bottom to start adding attachment or Hyperlinks.

You are given 3 options – 1. Insert copy of file    2. Insert hyperlink    3. Insert shortcut to file.  Unless you plan to always use the same computer the main options you will use are 1 and 2. Inserting a hyperlink is as simple as copying a web addresss into the box provided and clicking ok. With files (videos, powerpoints etc.), it is best to use the ‘Insert copy of file’ option – this actually copies the file from your computer and saves it as part of your notebook. (If you select ‘Insert shortcut’ this doesn’t actually insert the file, it creates a link to the location of the file on your computer – this means on a different computer it wont work!!!! So don’t forget creating a copy of the file is normally the best option!!).

ICT in Practice Meeting 1 – Unlocking the potential of your IWB

smart_newboardToday’s session is focused on looking at the potential the IWB gives for enhancing teaching and learning in the classroom. When faced with having an IWB in your classroom, it can seem quite daunting and you begin to feel that you have to spend lots of time planning specific resources, but the IWB is designed to give you a set of flexible pedagogical tools to complement your teaching and to make some tasks easier. Yes you can obviously spend alot of time creating resources, integrating multimedia and using the full power of the board, but doing this for every lesson is not practical, however the general tools the IWB provides means that we can easily integrate it into lessons. Indeed as you become more famillar with what it can do you will begin to use it more instinctively as part of every day lessons.


  • To show the potential the IWB has as an effective teaching and learning tool
  • To look at how you can use the IWB to make life easier in the classroom
  • To encourage staff to think of ways in which generic ideas for use on the IWB can be applied in subject specific areas
  • to share ideas and be aware of how to find out more about using IWB in your subject area

The Powerpoint from the presentation is given below (apologies for strange formating in places, the upload hasn’t agreed with some parts of it)

Instead of writing a long post covering everything from the session I will now break it down under a series of blog posts, which will enable you to search for what ever you are particularly interested by using the categories or search function on the blog!

If you enjoyed trying out some of the tips and tricks you saw in today’s session, have a look through this presentation for some more ideas (some of them you will have already seen in practice!). The presentation has been compiled by Tom Barrett a primay school Assistant Head from Nottinghamshire. The potential is just endless – once you start to build up your knowledge of tips and tricks that can be used! Enjoy!

Capturing Digital Media for the IWB 2. Video Clips

Having problems with not being able to access YouTube in school? Or do inappropriate comments on the YouTube page put you off using an otherwise useful educational clip in school? Or would you like to be able to download the video so that you can annotate key points using SMART notebook functions? There are a number of ways in which you can capture digital video from sites such as You Tube, Teacher Tube, Video Jug etc.. in order to capture useful content which you can use in the classroom (bearing in mind of course any copyright restrictions).


One of the simplest ways of downloading videos from the web is using a versatile, free and simple to use tools called zamzar. This is a free online file conversion tool which means you do not need to download any software to your computer in order to run it.

Downloading a YouTube video (or similar) using Zamzar couldn’t be easier:

1. Simply copy the URL of the YouTube video you want to download – go to zamar, under Step 1, click on url (you must do this if downloading from a website) and then paste in the URL of the YouTube video you want.


2. Under Step 2, select the file format you want to convert it to, if you intend to import it into SMART notebook you will need to use a file format such as .flv (a flash video file). If you download / convert the video into Flash Video format, other than watching it in SMART notebook you will need a Flash Video player to view it (a free one can be downloaded here)


3. Finally you will need to enter your email address and once you have agreed to the terms and conditions select convert. A link will then be sent to your email address for you to download the converted file to your computer. Depending on usage this can take anything from 5 minutes to up to an hour to come through! I have often had very quick responses however on one or two occassions at high usage times I have experienced some delays.

Although there are tools other than zamzar which can be quicker in downloading video clips, it is definitely worth be aware of zamzar – for example, if you just want the soundtrack to a video from YouTube but you don’t want the video itself, you can strip off the soundtrack using Zamzar – simply follow the instructions above, but instead of selecting .flv as the conversion format, choose one of the audio file options, e.g. .wav, ..wma etc.

You can also convert files from one type to another, including document formats such as .rtf and .doc.

Other Download Tools:

If you use Firefox – the SoThink Web Video Downloader (freeware) for Firefox is well worth downloading. Instructions for how to use this tool to download videos from firefox can be found here.

tooble1Tooble is a new online tool enabling the downloading of YouTube videos directly to your PC in a format which can then be downloaded to video ipods – this could be useful for making available revision videos which students can then download to watch on their ipods!

There are many other free options available – see this post on 18 free ways to download any video off of the internet, by Aseem Kishore.

Capturing Digital Media for the IWB – 1. Animations


We have all been there – we have found the perfect flash animation on a website we use in our schemes of work, but when we go back to it the site is no longer available or we can’t remember the URL! Don’t panic, whilst you need to be aware of any copyright restrictions, it is possible to capture flash animations from the web which can then be imported directly into SMART notebook and used as part of lesson. Whilst animated clipart which are actually .gifs are quite easy to save, in order to capture a flash animation .swf file we need to use a piece of software.

There are a number of free as well as commercial resources which will help you with this. The Sothink SWF catcher is a free option which is available to download for both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Another option which I have found successful in the past is Flash Saving Plugin which is freeware for use with Internet Explorer.

Below is a simple tutorial for downloading a flash file using the Sothink SWF Catcher for Internet Explorer.

1. Firstly download the software to your computer. You will then need to extract the files and select the option to run the programme.

2. If you have your Internet Explorer browser open you will then need to close it and re-open it. You will not see any difference when you re-open apart from the fact you now have a new option under “Tools” on the browser bar.

3. To download your flash file, select the website which contains the flash animation and then from Tools, select SothinkSWF Catcher


4. At the top of the box it saves “Save to” – this is the default area to which your animation will be stored when saved. If you want to change this location, before clicking on Save – click on Settings


5. You now need to choose the directory and folder in which you want to store your downloaded animation, this is important so that you know where to look for the file once it has been saved!


6. Finally click “Save” and the animation will be saved to the folder you indicated in the Settings profile.


8. You have now captured your flash file and it is ready to use in SMART notebook – simply open up a new notebook file – click on INSERT and select flash file


9. Finally navigate to the directory / folder where your animation is stored and click ok – your animation will now appear in your notebook – you can now add text around it / change background / add other resources (e.g. with the chosen animation of meander formation, I might also add in a photograph of a meander and a video clip by the side to help students visualise the development of the landform and enabling them to then come up and write labels on to explain the formation.


SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit – maximising the potential of your IWB

Increasing Interactivity using SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit

Have you seen or used the SMART Lesson activity toolkit? If not there is a whole area of interactivity to unlock to help you maxmise the use of your interactive whiteboard and to enhance the teaching and learning experience for you and your students.

So what is the SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit?
This is a free resource from SMART which was released to work alongside the all singing all dancing SMART notebook 10! There are lots of customisable tools and templates to make producing interactive resources even easier, particularly if you are a little daunted by the use of ICT – these tools are simple to use and easily adapted for use in different subject classrooms.

The Tool Kit has templates for wordgames, crosswords, quizzes etc. as well as flash templates which enable you to produce activities such as drag and drop, random word generator (from a vocab list), hide and reveal etc. The potential really is endless!

Not got SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit on your computer at home or in school?

It couldn’t be easier to download the SMART Lesson Activity Toolkit to your computer and add it to the Gallery in SMART notebook 10. To download the toolkit, follow the instructions here. Once installed you access the resource by simply loading SMART notebook and clicking on the Gallery tab.

SHOWCASING SMART Lesson Toolkit Activities:

Over the next couple of terms I am going to highlight some of the best resources from the toolkit, in daily blog updates, starting off with 5 examples in this post. Here are a few screen shots of the some of the hundreds of resources available:

1. Checker Tool – easily customised by unlocking the individual components and changing the image and words.


2. Random Picture Generator – you can upload a series of photographs / images – when you click on the generator, a random image will be displayed from those uploaded – here it is used to encouraging matching french words to the image displayed.


3. Dice – Keyword – a simple game – simply add the key terms and the generator randomises these in the form of a dice. Click the dice to ‘throw’ it and to select the random key word – great for little starters or plenaries on keyword definitions.


4. Word Guess – a little like hangman – expect the teacher or student may end up with tomato on their faces!


5.Question Flipper – nice for starters and plenaries – flip easily between the question and answer – simply add your questions and answers to customise – could copy across a set of 10 questions as a quiz or short starting test!