How Boardmaker Power Templates Will Change Your Life!

We all know how wonderful the Boardmaker software is.  For the longest time, I used it to make print activities only.  I had no idea how to make interactive projects, so I was content to print and go.  It still made my life much easier.

THEN!  A colleague showed me “Power Templates” and I haven’t looked back since!  These templates are for use with Boardmaker Plus.  The templates are made by Mayer Johnson and able to be personalized to target any area you need.  There are a variety of formats, including multiple choice questions (with a variety of field sizes), yes/no, sorting, and more.
First, you will need to have a Boardmaker Share account (now called Boardmaker Achieve).  Then, access the activities made by the user “boardmakerachieve” (aka Mayer Johnson).  They can all be found here.
Then, scroll way down to the bottom of the page (about 7/8 of the way down in my browser):
Here, you’ve hit the jackpot!

The templates that I use the most are: Yes/No, Multiple Choice, Sorting, True/False, & Flashcards. There are a bunch more on here that I suggest you explore once you get the hang of these.
Now, I will show you how to make a multiple choice activity.  Start by downloading the template.
A zip file will be downloaded; it comes with templates for 2, 3, and 4 choices (in this case, because we are doing a multiple choice activity).  Once you download this template, DO NOT alter it in ANYWAY!  Don’t alter file names, locations, don’t add or subtract any information.  Just don’t touch them.  (Consider yourself warned!)
Now, find where these zip files were downloaded to on your computer.  Mine automatically go to my “downloads” folder, but yours could be different.  Keep this folder open on your desktop.

Next, find where all of your Boardmaker files are.  There is likely a folder in your documents folder called “My Boards” (unless you’ve manually changed it after installing Boardmaker).  Open your “My Boards” folder and create a NEW folder.  Title it “Templates” (or something else, if you choose).

Next, you are going to unzip or “extract” the zip files that contain the templates.  You should extract them to the “Templates” folder you just created.  Here’s you get to my “templates” folder, but yours may be different:

 Repeat the same extracting steps for all of the templates you chose to download.

If you go into the templates folder, and open the “Multiple Choice” template folder, you will find 6 different files: 3 blank and 3 with sample content.  Most times I delete the sample content ones, because I don’t use them.  That way, you are left with 3 different multiple choice templates: 2, 3, and 4 answer choices.

I am going to show you how to make an activity with the 3 answer choices template.  In order to do that, you must select that FOLDER and copy the entire folder.  I use Ctrl+C to copy; you could also right click the folder and select “copy”.

Now, you are going to get out of the Templates folder and make a new folder for your FINISHED activities. You can call it whatever you’d like.  I usually group mine by the area of language it targets (eg.: “questions”, “concepts”, etc.).  I have further grouped my questions, as shown below.

Open the folder where you are going to keep your finished activities (in my case – “questions”).  Paste the template that you just copied into this folder (ctrl V).

Now the copy of your template is pasted in the correct folder.  Now you will rename the folder.  And ONLY the FOLDER.  Consider yourself warned.  Do NOT alter the names of any files within this folder or the activity won’t work.

I’m going to make an activity about “Where” questions so that’s what I’ve called my folder.

Now open the folder.  There are many BM files and some folders in here.  You only need to use one of these.  Do not even open the others!  The one that you are concerned with is always the one with “MAIN” in the title.  The specific name of the file will vary, depending on which type of activity you are creating (i.e. multiple choice vs. sorting).

Open this file  – the one with “MAIN” in the title.  If you already have BM open on your computer, the board will open in “edit” mode.  You’ll need to change it to “use” mode.  To do so, hit Ctrl+U (as is “use”).  If BM is not already open on your computer, I’m pretty sure the board will open automatically in “use” mode.  You can tell the difference because edit mode has a toolbar (file, edit, etc.) at the top and a yellow ruler along the top and left side.

 Just as the words on the bottom suggest, you will need to select the = key to edit the questions.  Again, the = key will only do anything if you are in use mode.  You will be taken to the below screen:

Start by typing your first question into the white box on the top left.  Select “enter”.  (***Don’t put a question mark.  The program doesn’t recognize them and it makes my computer freeze.)  Your first question should jump to the first pale green box after you push “enter”.  Next, you will type the correct answer for this question.  Again, click enter. Then, type 3 foil (wrong) answers in the other 3 boxes.  Now, if you type one word, the image will populate for you.  But, since “where” questions require more than one word, type all of the words first.  We can change the pictures later.  Same thing for multiple meaning words.  If you don’t like the picture it automatically chooses, you can change it manually after you’ve entered all of your questions and answers.  The questions do not get a picture.

Once you’ve entered all of your questions and answer, hit Esc on your keyboard.  This will take you to “edit” mode and allow you to add/change the pictures.

Open the symbol finder (the little head button in the top left).

 Type the key word of the answer into the symbol finder and find your best image.

Be sure to DELETE the word from the symbol finder box.  (*Tip: If you type “tab” then “delete” it will do this action for you quickly.)  The box you are concerned with here has the word “cafeteria” highlighted in it.

Now, put your selected symbol, without the word, into the corresponding white box by clicking the correct box.

Repeat these steps for the rest of the correct and incorrect answers.  If it automatically put an image in this box for you and you wish to change it, place the symbol and be sure to choose “replace” when the box pops up.  See below.

After you’ve added all of your symbols, be sure to SAVE your file.  BUT, don’t save as, just save it with the same name.  If you’re like I am and have a slight case of OCD, it’s a good idea to just hit Crtl+S every 3 seconds while editing this board.

This screen only allows you 5 questions.  Once you’ve entered your 5th question, a new button will pop up to take you to questions 6-10.  The max number of questions per activity is 10.

After you’ve finished your 5th question, click the “6-10” button (in “use” mode only) and you will be taken to an identical screen, but for the second half of questions.

Remember to SAVE, SAVE, SAVE when in edit mode. To get to the main screen and start playing your activity, press the back arrow on the bottom right.  This will take you to your home screen (the “MAIN” file).

From here, you can start playing your activity!  There are two options for play: practice and quiz. Practice allows 2 wrong answers, then prompts the correct answer.  Quiz is like cold probes and only allows for one attempt of each question.  Click the version you want to play, then click “go”.  ***In order to play, you must be in “use” mode.

Below is an example of what a sorting activity looks like.  (I added the visuals to the bottom right corners of the box myself.  You need to do this manually.)

After you’ve chosen the wrong answer twice,  the answer choices will look like this.

The beauty of these activities is that the computer constantly varies the order of the questions and the position of the answers. AND you also get your data printed out for you when you are finished.

Here is what the screen will look like after the last question has been answered:

Just click “print report” and you will be brought to a screen like this:

Type your student’s name in the box, then click the printer icon.  Voila!  You have your data right there for you!  The above report is from an activity done in “practice” mode (remember – max 3 trials per question).  You can see how many attempts there were in the far right column.  As you can see, I purposely got “seagull” wrong all three times, so that item gets an “X”.  Had I gotten it right when prompted (with the other 3 items grayed out), this would have been counted as a correct response, but with 2 attempts listed in the far right column.  If you’d rather a “cold probe” approach, choose “quiz” at the beginning of the activity.

When I use these in therapy, I open the activity I want my student to work on and let them complete it on the SmartBoard.  They LOVE it!  If you don’t have a Smartboard, your student could also play the old fashioned way – with the computer and the mouse! (Or whatever adaptive equipment you have set up: scanning buttons, touch screen, etc.)

To find all of the Power Templates that I’ve made, visit my Boardmaker Share (now Boardmaker Achieve) page here.

***Side note – if you’ve recently installed Boardmaker on your computer and your operating system is Vista, then the images will not load correctly for you.  But, there is a fix!  Go to the Start Menu>Programs>Mayer Johnson>Check for Updates.  It will give you an update for the installation process which will put all the necessary items where they belong.  Then, your power templates will work as they should.  If you have Vista or a late Windows operating system, you might want to try checking for updates before you use the power templates and get frustrated as to why they won’t work.  Not like I’m speaking from experience or anything.


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