Meet Guest Blogger of the Week: Rachel Yurk – SMARTBoard Exemplary Educator

I have been a teacher in New Berlin, WI in grades 2-6 for the past 13 years. I have had the chance to learn a great deal from some really incredible colleagues and I can only imagine the wealth of knowledge in the educators that read and respond to this blog!  What an awesome opportunity for the WI DEN to share and explore learning together. I believe that every teacher has a “bag of tricks.  This bag of tricks is that special touch that they bring with them each day.  The challenge is to know how to use your bag of tricks to teach to the very different needs of the kids we are facing today and tomorrow.  I hope to share some of my tricks with you as we learn and share together.

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I just recently joined the DEN after learning about it from – a colleague!  I teach 6th grade and when that is not keeping be busy enough, I am a SMART Certified Master Trainer and a SMART Exemplary EducatorNew Berlin School District  implemented SMART Interactive whiteboards through a sustained systemic staff development plan that would reach the diverse learning needs of our students.  Great tool for that “bag of tricks” I was beginning to collect on digital learning.  I am a part of a two person team that spear-headed the staff development on SMART Boards, training and learning over the past few years as our district went from 1 SMART Board to over 100.

As an Exemplary Educator, I had the tremendous opportunity to go to Calgary, Alberta in Canada last summer and work with a team of educators as well as SMART staff to learn more about integrating the use of SMART Boards into the classroom.  Upon returning home, I learned I would be sent for the SMART Master Certification Training, which would enable me to offer certified training sessions on SMART Board Notebook software in our district and to others in need of an educator’s perspective during training.

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If that was not enough already, our district signed up for unitedstreaming!  Wow, another tool for my “bag of tricks”!  I quickly learned that I could use the digital media offered through unitedstreaming to add depth and interest to my lessons.  Just the resource I was looking for.  I quickly merged these two amazing resources to begin to create seamless lessons and activities for the millennial learners in my classroom.  SMART Boards in conjunction with unitedstreaming so complimentary it is almost too easy. 

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What kid would not want to watch a unitedstreaming video on a 77 inch screen with stereo sound?  What teacher would not want to be able to play a video, pick up a pen, freeze the video, draw over the video with digital ink, replace the pen and watch the annotations fade out as the video is completed?  How about taking the level of learning up a notch by capturing a still of the video, sending it to the Notebook Software to be used as a page for discussion or test item later?  Through SMART Video Player and Notebook software a unitedstreaming video just became even more of an interactive teaching tool. 

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With unitedstreaming Images and the Notebook Image Gallery a teacher no longer is at a loss from the necessary items when teaching.  These images can be added to the content of a lesson and used again and again as the lesson is implemented.  I have learned to attach United Streaming video in parts to a SMART Notebook file in the attachments tab and use only small sections of a video as we study parts of the lesson.  Video is no longer a flash in the pan tool in my classroom, but an important part of the lesson that the students will revisit through still images as the lessons progress. 

The millennial learners we are teaching today are taking in information at such a high rate of speed.  Compare the way the news of today looks to the news of 20-30 years ago.  Millennial learners would not be interested in watching the “talking head” news we watched as children.  Today’s learners need multi stimuli as they take in information.  If, through the use of SMART Board Interactive whiteboards and unitedstreaming, we can assist kids in touching, hearing, seeing and interacting with learning, and that helps them to be stronger learners.  We owe it to this generation of leaders to be the best educators we can.  Let’s fill up our "bag of tricks"!

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If you would like to request a copy of one of Rachel’s sample Sample Notebook Lessons email her at  yurkr@nbps.k12.wi.us

And, be sure to check out Smart Lessons PodcastsEpisodes 8 and 9 are by Rachel on writing and streaming video integration activities using SmartBoards.

If you use a SmartBoard in your classroom, please share a comment on how you are using your SmartBoard and unitedstreaming or digital media!  Cool tools… and great fun to use!  Rachel is one SMART educator and we are happy she is sharing her skills with all of us! 

<round of applause for Rachel!> 🙂

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3 Comments

  1. Ryan Altschwager said:

    Awesome entry! Very cool how you tie multiple tools together that are excellent alone to make them even more attractive to your students and a wonderful learning environment.

  2. Patricia A. Hawkenson said:

    I was impressed by the blog written by Guest Blogger of the Week: Rachel Yurk – SMARTBoard Exemplary Educator. It made me feel that I am not using my interactive white board system to its fullest. Hoping to hear more, I emailed her with questions regarding any training I could be getting to advance my knowlege of this technology. Just to let the rest of you know, Rachel, as busy as she must be, took the time to write me a long response. Thank you, Rachel! Also, she refered me on to another source for possible training. In the end, sadly, it appears I don’t actually have a SMART Board system, but a Mimio system – which is apparently different! If anyone has information on this Mimio interactive white board system,… I still could use more training. Email me with any thoughts and tips for use. Thanks!

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