Sunday, February 21, 2016

Bring Gamification to Your Classroom With LAB Games from SMART

In recent years, there has been a push for gamification in the educational setting.  According to Jane McGonigal, game designer and author, playing games can have several benefits, which include: urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, and epic meaning. (You can learn more about benefits of playing games by watching Jane McGonigal's TED Talk entitled "Gaming Can Make a Better World."  Because of the push for gamification, SMART Technologies has developed the Lesson Activity Builder (LAB) for SMART Notebook 15.   Eventually, the LAB, which is HTML5 based,  will replace the Lesson Activity Toolkit, which is Flash based. (Future versions of SMART Notebook will no longer support Flash.)

So what is this new LAB all about?  And why is it so beneficial to your students?  As I mentioned above, SMART's new LAB brings gamification to the classroom.  As an educator, when I enjoy creating content for my students, my students are going to enjoy learning using that content.  That's what LAB is all about.  The best thing about LAB is that SMART has already designed the activities with some attractive and engaging themes.  All you have to do is just add your content and you're ready to bring it to your classroom for your students to enjoy.  It's that simple!

The LAB Activities or Games are best used for informal assessment.  You can add whatever content you want; whether it's math, science, social studies, english language arts, and foreign languages. At this point in time, there are currently several types of activities you can choose from in the LAB:
  • Super Sort - Students sort items into two groups.  The items disappear if they're sorted correctly, but they go back to be re-sorted if they're put in the wrong category.
  • Shout it Out! - Students use a web browser on their web enabled devices to connect to an activity and contribute words or images.
  • Rank Order - Students can arrange items into an order selected by the teacher.  
  • Flip Out - Students flip the cards over to reveal what the teacher has put on the other side.
  • Fill in the Blanks - Students drag and drop items to fill in the missing words, phrases or numbers in any passage.  
  • Match 'Em Up! - Students can match items by dragging and dropping.  
  • Label Reveal - This activity will help students learn the names of the constituent parts of the images the teacher chooses.
  • Speedup - Students race each other as they answer multiple choice questions provided by the teacher.  The faster they answer correctly, the faster they move ahead of others in a race to the finish.
Super Sort

Match 'Em Up!
 Label Reveal


To add an activity, you will need to open the LAB by pressing the toolbar icon  in the Notebook toolbar. The Add an Activity window opens. The LAB will take you step by step; you will have a variety of activities and themes to choose from. So just choose what works best for you, add your content, and you're good to go! SMART will continue to add more themes and LAB activities in future product updates in SMART Notebook. Those of you who like the activities in the LAT, please know that SMART will be working to create new LAB activities based on those, so make sure to stay tuned.

For those of you who are new to LAB, I would first recommend that you check out the approximately 500 LAB activities that are available on the SMART Exchange (SMEX) by visiting Why reinvent the wheel?  For those of you who are not familiar with the SMEX online community, it's a repository for a variety of high-quality, peer-reviewed digital content you can use with your classroom technology. You’ll find thousands of resources including Common Core State Standards correlated lessons for SMART Notebook collaborative learning software, question sets for SMART Response interactive response systems, links and other multimedia content. You can search for and browse content quickly and easily by subject, grade, curriculum, media type and popularity, as well as filter results according to the SMART products you have in your classroom.  
So have fun creating new LAB activities and games for your students.  You will give them a new meaning to learning as you bring gamification along with its various benefits into your classroom. Your students will be sure to thank you!