Expanding Collaboration: Using SMART lab to Facilitate Meaningful Group Discussions

A SMART Customer story with Danielle O’Haren, Bear Creek School, Elizabethtown, PA

Teacher and School

Danielle O’Haren, 6th Grade Teacher Bear Creek School, Elizabethtown, PA

Key Challenge

Students struggling to determine the operation or process needed to solve word problems involving fractions and fraction concepts.

SMART Solution

SMART Board® 800 series
SMART Learning Suite


The overall class average increased 34% from pre- to post-assessment after integrating the SMART lab™ Shout it Out activity.
“I appreciated the efficiency in creating a Shout it Out activity and the ease with which I was able to implement it in my classroom.”
— Danielle. O’Haren


Bear Creek School is a grade 4-6 school located in a rural community outside of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania containing approximately 930 students. Danielle O'Haren has been teaching math to students in the middle grades for 11 years. She is passionate about teaching students to love math by helping them to use their mistakes as tools for their learning. Danielle is also eager to provide her students with learning opportunities that are rich in new classroom technology that enhances the classroom experience.

Danielle conducted an analysis of her students’ Pennsylvania System of School Assessment scores to determine how she would integrate SMART Learning Suite into her instruction. She noticed over the past two years (2014-2016), her students struggled with standards involving word problems and the application of fraction operations and fraction concepts (including greatest common factors, least common multiples, and the distributive property).


A closer analysis of her classroom assessment data showed her students had learned the concepts about fraction operations, including problem solving with word problems but displayed difficulty in applying these skills in solving word problems. She believed this happened due to her students’ lack of fraction sense because they didn’t exhibit the same deficiency with the application of solving word problems with decimals.

Prior to learning what SMART Learning Suite had to offer, she would put her students into groups of 3-4 to discuss how to solve each word problem. This limited students’ exposure to only a few other students’ ideas on how to understand, explain, and solve each problem. She chose to use the SMART lab “Shout it Out” activity to allow these groups to record their answers which would now be displayed for the entire class to see. Additionally, due to the ability to manipulate and move student responses in a Shout it Out activity, she was able to level up her activity and have a whole class discussion to group common solutions and/or analyze where groups had made mistakes and offer a new solution.

How SMART Solutions Improved Learning Outcomes

Over the course of her unit of study Danielle saw an increase in meaningful student participation with the use of Shout It Out. Prior to using Shout it Out, students were hesitant to offer suggestions during group discussion. Once she integrated this tool into her instruction, students were excited to see their responses pop up on the SMART Board and be sorted with the rest of the responses. The percentage of groups getting answers correct increased over the weeks as students wanted to see their response sorted into the correct category. Danielle stated, “It was engaging for the students and provided a way for all students to interact with the material and have a voice in the classroom when otherwise they would have sat there and tuned out the lesson.” Her students’ increased active engagement in collaborative group discussion wasn’t the only improvement. Prior to integrating Shout it Out into her instruction, she administered a pre-assessment that resulted in a class average of 41%. By the end of the unit and adjusting her teaching practice to include Shout it Out, the class average rose to 75%, an increase of 34%. Danielle attributes this increase to Shout it Out, as this was the only modification she made to her teaching practice from prior years.

Expanding Collaboration

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Posted: April 18, 2018
in Outcome Studies