Originally I had been disappointed to find that the Smartboard Notebook software did not have any Powerpoint-style special effects--especially when it came to making text appear and disappear. There are many times when I don't want all the text visible at once. Perhaps I'd like students to work through a problem, then display the solution on screen. Or I want to make a presentation out of it--show one thing, then another--when having it all visible at once would minimize the discovery of new facts and ideas.
So, I've been trying out different ways that Notebook can conceal and reveal information.
The three options I came up with are the screen shade; using text boxes (and pictures) to hide other sections; and the spotlight.
I first tried the text boxes. I thought it would be a perfect solution--cover one text box with another, then move aside to reveal the text behind it at the correct time.
I do use that method on occasion, but I found it to be cumbersome to set up. Text boxes by default are transparent and I always end up fumbling through the menus to find the right combination for hiding the boxes I need and revealing the text I want shown. It also doesn't always line up right.
[It still is a useful technique. I just used it together with a picture that had a black background. White text was visible at first; when I shrank the picture, the black text that had been hidden behind it showed up, and the white text disappeared. An easy solution that looked a lot more complicated than it really was.]
Next is the spotlight, which looked like such an elegant solution the first time I saw it. But it's not that easy to manipulate on screen, and it affects the entire screen--not just the slide I'm showing. Going to the next slide doesn't remove it.
Finally, there's the screen shade. It didn't seem all that exciting at first--especially when you're looking for a Powerpoint-effect substitute. But it turns out that it's the solution I use all the time.
I use it to reveal sections of text, or pictures, or one line at a time, depending on what we're working on.
Last week I displayed a screen with a lot of text--I didn't have the shade down, since I was planning on going over all of it at once. My students took one look and asked, "Can you please put on the screen shade?" Apparently viewing all that text at once led to information overload!
I put up the shade, lowered it by each section of text that we read and discussed, and eventually it was all out in the open--but now students were comfortable with the text.
So right now the screen shade is my default approach. But if anyone has a better solution, please share it--I'd love to try it!