Saturday, June 29, 2013

What's So Great About SMART Response?

Do you use SMART Response in your classroom?  If you have, then your are familiar with the Senteo interactive response system.  Today they're called SMART Response interactive response system.  That's a mouthful to say!  I usually just call them Responders but they're also referred to as "clickers".  SMART Response requires the use of Responders.  If you are not familiar with the Responders, the closest thing I can compare it to is the hand held devices the audience used in the show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?   When the audience was polled by the contestant, they responded to a multiple choice question and their answers were displayed for the "hopeful millionaire" to view. 

Schools that have SMART boards will often purchase at least one class set of Responders.  There are at least two types of clickers available.  The one used in the lower elementary grades have simple symbols that use shapes and colors such as a triangle or star.  Here is a link to what the LE model looks like.  The child presses on one of the symbols when indicating his/her answer for a multiple choice or yes/no type of question.  The shapes/colors are used instead of having the answer choices as A, B, C, D, or E.  This type of multiple choice format is easy for young children to adapt to.  The educator can tailor a set of questions on any topic with SMART Response.  When creating a multiple choice type of question, the teacher can choose to have up to five possible answers for the students to pick from.  Or she can have as little as two choices for her students to select from.  Additionally, there is an option to create an opinion question.  This gives the children exposure to the idea that a question does not necessarily have a "right" or "wrong" answer.

The teacher can also choose to use pictures/images in place of text for her answers.  This is helpful when using the Responders with young children who are not yet skilled at reading.  It's also a great way to get the children started with using the Responders.  To do this, leave the text blank instead of typing answer choices.  Then select one of the symbols/letter choices to be the correct answer.  When the question and shapes/colors display on the slide, insert pictures/images beside each symbol (triangle, star, etc. . .) with the correct picture answer matching the symbol/letter that you indicated as such.

So what's so great about SMART Response? 

1.  It ACTIVELY engages all the students.  Instead of having just one child answer the question orally while the others students are passively engaged in listening and watching what the chosen child does, all students are now assigned the role of answering the questions.  (Isn't that what they did in Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  That is, they engaged the audience as a whole instead of just a few selected members.)

2.  Students receive IMMEDIATE feedback.  Let's face it, we all like getting feedback.  Students are no different.  And whether they get the answer right or wrong, it becomes a learning tool for them when they know how they're doing.  When the teacher stops the question, the Responders tell the children whether or not their answer was correct before advancing to the next question.

3.  It's an ASSESSMENT TOOL for the educator.  Since each Responder is assigned its own number, the educator can assign a unique Responder to every student in the classroom.  Once she stops a question, it tells her the responses from every child in the class.  Not only does she know who got the answer wrong, she also knows which wrong answer was selected.  This permits her to determine the next action with regard to assisting the child with the concepts.   The teacher can collect and save the data in an instant. She could also create a paper & pen checklist to record data as the students answer the questions.  The third option is to simply make informal observations about the children's responses to the questions.

If you're not sure how to get started with SMART Responders, you might ask your school's technology team for assistance.

Three important tips about using SMART Response:

1.   Sometimes a child will put pressure on more than one button on the Responder.  The Responder will pick up on what was pressed first.  This may not be what the child intended to pick.  It's a good idea to remind your students to press their finger directly on top of the button they're choosing.  Caution them to avoid touching multiple buttons.

2.  Remember to START a question . . . and STOP each question.  Start the question before students respond . . . you might need to tell them to wait.  Stop the question when your students are finished responding.

3.  If you are planning to use the Responders as an assessment tool, you will need to explain to children not to share their answers with others.  Otherwise, they will assume that is a collaborative event and will begin to view their neighbor's responses.

Are you ready to try SMART Response?  A have a free file for you to practice with.  The photos below show most of the slides in the SMART Response file I created.  Please let me know if you use this file and how it words for you. 

All graphics and frames are from My Cute Graphics created by Laura Strickland.  She was so kind and gave me permission to use her graphics for this project.  Visit her website at

You will need the SMART Notebook 11 software as well as SMART Response.  A lower version of SMART Notebook will be incompatible with this file.  To get this file, Click on the words, SMART Notebook July 2013 Calendar Activities with SMART Response Questions.

In this slide, I created three possible answers for the students to choose from.  I also added an image of the calendar so students and teachers could use it as a reference tool. I animated the arrow so that is appears when you enter the slide.

In this slide I used four possible answers.  For first grade, it's best to use no more than four selections.  With Kindergarten students, start with two selections.

For most of my slides I chose to write the statement on the first line and the question on the next line.
The text in the question section can be modified after it's imported into the slide.

You have my permission to remove the arrows or change the background color to suit your classroom and individual needs.
I used the shape tool to create rectangles around the "tents".  Then I used the fill color and made it semi-transparent to draw attention to those dates on the calendar.
I used images instead of text for the answer choices on this slide.  This slide also shows just 2 answer choices which is a good number to start with when using Responders with children at the kindergarten level.

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

July Calendar Activities That Support Common Core Standards

It's almost July so I thought I'd make a freebie for you.  Are you teaching summer school?  Maybe you can use this next month.  It partially aligns with the "Measurement & Data" strand with the first grade Common Core Standards - Represent and interpret data.  CCSS.Math.Content1.MD.C.4.  Here's what my packet includes:
1.  Blank July calendar for students to write the numerals in the correct boxes.  (To facilitate higher level thinking, the blank calendar could also be used by the children to draw their own images, key, and questions with.)
2.  Partially blank July calendar for students to fill in the missing numerals.
3.  July image calendar with pictures located on specified dates.  (The images symbolize fictitious events that will take place in the month of July.)
4.  Eight questions related to the calendar with images.

The questions are printed on two pages.  The first sheet has a key displayed at the top that briefly describes the events in relation to the pictures displayed on the calendar.  The questions will require the students to refer to their own copy of the July image calendar.  Additionally, they will need to use the key that is displayed on the first sheet that the questions are printed on.  Some of the questions are designed for the students to make inferences.  All questions are in a multiple choice format.  While this activity is great for the month of July, you could use this file any month during the school year when working on calendar skills.  Please be aware that the small images on the image calendar may print light.  This may be a result of the original graphic size being significantly reduced by me.  The text and graphics come close to the left and right side of the pages.  Please be mindful of this as you prepare to print copies.       

Here's everything you get in this file.  Click the words:  July 2013 Calendar Activities.

Here are some close-ups of the file above. 
This is the image calendar.  It has pictures on specified dates which symbolize events that will take place.

The image above shows page one of the questions along with the picture key.

This is page 2 of the questions page.  Students need to refer to both the key on page 1 and the image calendar. 
This is the July 2013 calendar that is partially completed with numerals.  Students fill in the missing numerals.
This is the blank July 2013 calendar.  Students write the missing numerals in the appropriate boxes. 
If you have SMART Notebook software and a SMART board in your classroom, check back in a day or so for another free file designed to compliment this one. The SMART file will have some of the pages from this file scanned on to it. There may also be a SMART Response activity which can be used as a question & answer activity if you don't use SMART Responders.

Thank you to Laura Strickland of "My Cute Graphics" for all the images used to create this free product. Without her gifts, this product would not be possible. View her website at:
Some of the numeral font components used to create the partially completed numeric calendar were from Fonts 4 Teachers. View their website at

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.
The National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers are acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary are made.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Store Banner At Last

Hi folks,

I have been trying to create a banner to dress up my Teachers Pay Teachers store for months!  The other day I came across a seller named CampingTeacher.  She has a Powerpoint template to make a TpT store banner.  She has done all the work and provided excellent directions.  All you need to do is import your backgrounds and images.  It's super easy to use.  Best of all, she is offering it for free at her Teachers Pay Teachers store!  You might also like to visit her blog at iamcampingteacher.  Thank you Camping Teacher!  Here is what my first banner looks like:

That's all for now!
Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Zoom To The Moon" Sale!

Summer has begun!  Take a look up in the sky tonight.  What will you see?  A full moon!  Don't you love looking at the moon?  Just think, every person on the planet can look at same thing in the sky.  The moon has fascinated humans for centuries.  People have written songs and books about the moon.  We've coined phrases like "Once in a blue moon" which means that something takes place on rare occasions.  (There really is a blue moon.)  Countries have used it as a symbol on their national flags.  Food has been named after the moon.  One of my favorites is Moon Pie.  A famous dance was dubbed the "Moon Walk".  And if your surname is "Moon" you have bragging rights to its meaning which is "Knowledge".  Tonight's first full moon of the summer has inspired me to have a sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Everything is twenty percent off!  This is a two-day sale.  It runs from June 23rd to June 24th.

Click here to go to Lessons by Molly's Teachers Pay Teachers store.
  Let's check your "Moon Knowledge" shall we?  Here's the quiz:

1.  Who was the first human being to step foot on the moon?  (one name only)
2.  How many natural satellites does the planet Earth have?
3.  What is the origin of the word "crescent"?
4.  What is the true source of the moon's light?
5.  What is the Latin word for "moon".

Click below where is says, "Read More" to get the answers.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Giving Tree

Today I signed up to become an affiliate with Amazon.  I'll be posting about some of my favorite children's books.  There will also be some ideas and freebies to go along with the books I recommend.  

I've chosen a book titled, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein as my first one.  I've also picked a few other tree books to go along with The Giving Tree.  

The story begins with a young boy that makes friends with a tree.  The boy becomes a teenager, a young man, and later he becomes an elderly man advanced with age.  With the passage of time the boy has lost interest in the tree.  The tree merely serves as a thing to use and not something to love in the mind of the boy.  This saddens the tree.  This story has a touching ending with a sweet message about love and friendship.  In addition to the friendship message, the book teaches children about one of our planet's natural resources and its by-products.  It can be integrated with a lesson on seasonal changes in the environment for those living in the Northern Hemisphere and is an excellent book to use with sequencing story events.

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer 2013 Bucket List Linky Party

I am happy to link up with A Cupcake for the Teacher, Miss Kindergarten, and A Modern Teacher.  What will I do during the summer of 2013?  What's on my "Bucket List"?  We are probably going to have a "Stay-Cation" or take a small trip someplace not too far away.  Here are some things I'll try doing with my extra time.

  1.  Grow a vegetable garden.  I am less ambitious than that.  I would just like to grow tomatoes.  Here is a photo of some tomato plants I grew a few years ago.  (Yep, that's me in the picture with the eye glasses.)  The tomatoes in the picture are still green.  They haven't ripened up to that shiny bright red color yet.  There is nothing like eating a juicy garden fresh tomato . . . with a little salt added.

2.  "Take time to smell the flowers."  Life has been so fast paced lately.  This summer I'm going to slow down a bit and enjoy simple pleasures with my family and friends.
3.  Blogging.  I have enjoyed becoming a teacher-blogger this year and can't imagine discontinuing it during the summer months.  So, farewell until next time.

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Gifts For The Children At The End Of The School Year

Are you finished with school or do you STILL have a few weeks left?  Here's an idea I put together for those of you that have a few extra dollars to spare and want to give your students some goodies for the summer break.  This will also work if you are involved in a summer school program or summer reading camp.

Since the summer solstice is almost here, (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) I wanted to go with something that was a beach theme. I started out by thinking about a phrase that I could use to connect both reading and the beach together. I began brainstorming with beach themed words like: seashells, sand, water, waves, sharks, crabs, floats and so forth. After awhile, the ideas for phrases were "swimming" through my head. Finally, I came up with: Reading is the best "catch" of the day! I used my large shape cutter to make my tags. (Too bad I didn't have a seashell shape!) Then I wrote the phrases on the tags. See below:
Reading is the best "catch" of the day!
 Next I found these great beach pails at Michael's Crafts.  They were one dollar each but a teachers' discount helps a little.  I taped the tags that I had made to the outside of the pails. 
Pink and blue pails purchased at Michael's Crafts

The inflatable beach balls were perfect for the beach theme.  How fitting with the word "catch"!  Get it?  There was plenty of space inside the pails for the beach balls when left deflated.  I found them at Michael's Crafts as well.  They were one dollar a piece.  The teacher discount brought the price down to 85 cents each.
"Catch a beach ball"
 Then I went to the Dollar Tree and picked up some really cute stuffed fish toys.  The sweet cashier went to the back of the store and pulled them out of boxes in the back room.  There weren't any fish on the store shelves but a "little bird" told me they were selling them.  I put one fish inside each pail.  In addition to "catching" beach balls, we also "catch" fish to eat.  The fish were one dollar each.  You might get a teacher discount if you ask and have your identification tag. 

I purchased stuffed fish toys from the Dollar Tree.

The last task was the most important.  Books!  The books need to be small enough to fit inside the pails.  For many children, time spent reading does not happen as often during the summer weeks as it does when school is in session.  Getting the children their very own books is essential.  I printed and assembled some of my own books.  I also found some free book samples at the website called, Reading An email address is required in order to download the free books.  I used the book titled, The Three Little Pigs.   (If you are not sure about how to assemble the printable books, follow this link to see how it's done:  Book Assembly Tutorial.)        
Stuffed fish toy, beach ball, and take-home book.
I put the books in the pails to complete the project.  This turned out adorable and any young child will love this as a summer "Send Off" gift.  The cost of the project is $2.70 per child plus the cost of the printable books and the tags that went on the pails.  Print the books at your school to reduce your own costs.   
Super cute!
The printable book shown in the pictures above are part of a larger packet of mine. It's available for purchase at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Below is a photo of the preview file. The printable take-home book is located where it says "Printable Emergent Book". I created this book in black and white to reduce ink usage from the printer.

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

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