I have a Smartboard. You know, it has a million bells and whistles but I find the main use of it is being on and available and at the center of the classroom all day long. It's a public computer for the class. It's a projected, large-sized computer screen. We can share our thinking. We can share our explorations. Knowledge accelerates so fast in an open group format. It's just "on" and in use. It's a way we can search and learn together. We look things up all the time, anytime. It's reachable at the keyboard with the mouse or by standing in front of it and touching the screen. Perfect. I wouldn't , couldn't give it up.
That's a big question! Our district is lucky enough to have a SMARTboard in every classroom k-6 and in all of the math, science, and social studies rooms. Like Connie and Wade said, it's a great tool to knock down the walls of your classroom and use web-based and application-based resources for small or whole group instruction. You can apply multi-modal approaches to your lessons; seamlessly integrating video (Powermedia Plus, Front Line, United Streaming, Nova, McNeil News Hour, and so many more.) and interactive websites (just too many to mention.)
Click here and you'll be taken to the SMARTboard category on my blog. I've got a few posts about the way we use the board in our elementary grades. If you narrow your question to subject or grade level, I bet we could be even more helpful!
Other ideas we encourage - adding your own audio with Audacity; showing video using the SMART Player so you can pause and annotate on the video then capture to Notebook; using Notebook to develop your lessons - allows for embedding of images, video, scanned documents, etc for a smoother flow of your lesson; capturing PowerPoint, Word, etc into Notebook for an interactive interface; document cameras for peer editing, displaying of exemplar examples of writing, student collaboration, etc.
I don't have a smart board, yet, but our district is starting to invest in them. One thing I have seen a teacher do that I thought had amazing potential for student learning, was to post some of the work they had done in class on a blog, so students could go home a review what they had talked about in class when doing homework! Awesome!
Greg, be sure to have your district look at the Promethean Active Boards. We just purchased 8 of them. We went to a Smart Board training, and then had the Promethean folks come out for a demo. BIG DIFFERENCE!! The Promethean Boards have THOUSANDS of pre-made lessons and flip charts!! Really cool, easy to learn, and the kids love them.
Our district just bought 85 of them (Promethean), and the learning curve already is noticed (for the good). I have some pictures of usage on my blog to show what we've done. Talk about a behavior management diamond in the rough! We love them!
This is my first year using the promethean board and I love it! Our second grade classrooms that have the boards have collaborated on lessons for language arts and math -the kids are so engaged and eager to participate. The promethean boards are very user friendly!