Welcome back! I hope you found last month’s article on sharing digital resources useful. Can you believe it’s already February?! February is often regarded as the month of love and who doesn’t enjoy watching a romantic, thoughtfully planned profession of love between couples culminating with the offering of a ring on bended knee? I must admit, they are entertaining, but they are NOT the type of engaging presentation you will be reading about today.
At one point or another, we have all suffered through a speaker or attended a webinar that was so boring or unengaging that the presenter started to sound like the teacher in Charlie Brown. Indeed, this is not a fun experience as an audience member, and it is also not fun on the other end speaking to an audience that is distracted on their phones or otherwise unengaged. We can all agree that a poor presentation is a negative experience for both parties involved. This is why we dove into ways educators are creatively minimizing the monotony and capturing the curiosity during presentations in their classrooms!
What options are out there and how are educators using them?
There was a variety of resources shared with us this month for creating engaging presentations (it looks like there are a lot of people and companies interested in making presentations more interactive!).
- Andrea Fox, technology integration specialist at West Fargo Public Schools (WFPS), explained a variety of presentation tools educators in her schools use including Microsoft Sway, WeVideo, and Powtoon, as well as the PowerPoint add-in Office Mix.
- Jerry Schneider, Instructional Technology Coach at Fargo North High School and Ben Franklin Middle School, also shared other tools and resources that educators may use such as Adobe Spark, Canva, Padlet, and Google Sites. [Schneider was also gracious enough to give us access to a recent presentation covering all four tools! Check it out here!]
- Darcy Bakkegard, Professional Development Coach for Prairie Public Education, shared her new presentation tool discovery: Pear Deck! Bakkegard is also a go-to PowerPoint slide user, but not just for “presentations”. She has found it helpful to use PPT slides to organize her class content with daily objectives along with learning standards, assignments and any information we were covering in class. This is then used as a reference tool for students during class AND for parents to stay “in-the-know” as she posts the slides on her class page.
Continue reading to learn more a bit more about each product and examples of they’re being used by educators right here in our area.
Microsoft Sway is a “digital storytelling app for creating interactive reports, presentations, personal stories and more” (as defined by Microsoft Sway). A unique feature of Sway is its ability to easily create the look of a website. You can easily add videos, interactive charts, other media, or even insert a Sway within a Sway!
“There is a lot of room for creativity and differentiation,” says Fox. “Our 8th-grade AVID students created Sways based on research to present on a college of their choice. Students were then able to view others’ presentations through an easy-to-share link.”
WeVideo is another resource that Fox is the most excited about. This “cloud-based online video editing software is available on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Some of its many features associated include a green screen, picture-in-picture, screencasting, motion control, and voice-over narration. Fox shared that WFPS 6th-grade students have used WeVideo for creating a green screen of their bridge building project including a creative background and inserting a learning reflection. Additionally, a WFPS 8th-grade Social Studies class created a Move West video to showcase their learning of westward expansion. How fun is that!?
Powtoon is an online presentation software allowing anyone to create animated presentations and animated explainer videos.
[Additional resources: How to make a powtoon from a-z (10:41) | 11 Quick & Amazing Ways to Use PowToon in Your Classroom]
“Students love the variety and appreciate being able to use animations,” says Fox.
Take a moment to view the project about the immune system below.
Microsoft Office Mix is a free PowerPoint add-in for Office 2013 and up that allows users to create and share interactive online videos. Various features include voice/video/digital ink, quizzes and polls, screen recording, and interactive applications. Additionally, it offers insights and analytics to access knowledge transfer, evaluate learner satisfaction, as well as investigate visitor views and interaction.
[Additional resource: Office Mix – An Introduction (4:15)]
“Office Mix enables teachers to track how long students view a particular slide. It is also a great way for teachers and students to create videos that can be watched as tutorials,” shares Fox.
Adobe Spark is a free online and mobile graphic design app that can be used to create images, videos, and web pages. There are three different tools as part of the Spark package:
- Posts (announcements, memes, newsletters, advertisements)
- Pages (web pages)
- Video (add images, text, music, and narration)
[Additional resource: Adobe Spark Examples]
“The video tool is the application geared most towards presentations, with the best feature being recorded slide narration. But, one drawback of using Spark is there are not collaboration capabilities,” says Schneider.
An innovation option for using Spark shared by Schneider to his colleagues was to have students take a picture of a math problem on their phones, insert it into an Adobe Spark slide, and then explain the steps to answer the problem. Click below to watch a student’s Spark presentation on “The Invention of Hugo Cabaret.”
Canva is a free graphic-design tool website which provides access to millions of photographs, as well as graphics and fonts. Outside of presentations, Canva may also be used to design and share business cards and logos.
[Additional resource: How to use Canva to create a presentation (2:36)]
“There are numerous different document options available for printing such as letters, posters, flyers, brochures, and social media posts. The templates for the presentations are eye-catching and easy to use, and the elements (images, shapes, fonts, backgrounds) are easy to add and change. Plus, you can collaborate in designing with others on the website,” explains Schneider.
Padlet is considered a bulletin board site for students and teachers to post responses to questions, brainstorm topics according to Schneider. After a user has created a Padlet board they can invite users to contribute content to it such as photos, documents, web links, video, and music. Additionally, users are able to share their Padlet, even if the other users do not have a Padlet account.
[Additional resources: 30 creative ways to use Padlet for teachers and students | Padlet examples]
“Padlet can be adapted to be a presentation tool by using its ability to change how viewers see posts (like Stream). Its one-click or drag and drop interface makes Padlet extremely easy to use,” says Schneider.
Schneider explains, “Creating a presentation in Google Sites is easy. Add the content onto pages just like you would add it on a slide and not only are you creating a presentation, but you are also creating a website to be shared with anyone in the world!” says Schneider. Google Sites also allows you to add Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and PDFs, as well as embed Google Calendars, YouTube videos, and Google Maps.
Pear Deck turns any slide deck into an interactive presentation full of formative assessment options according to Bakkegard. Users have the ability to either build presentations directly on the Pear Deck website, or add it to Google Slides.
[Additional resource: Formative Assessment and Metacognition Pear Deck example]
“Students can log into the presentation on their own devices and answer questions, share ideas, take polls, and link directly to webpages I want to show them. Pear Deck has definitely made my presentations much more engaging and more student lead.”
What changes have you seen?
“Although the use of technology does not inherently change the classroom, many of the activities teachers are creating allow for student creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. When teachers integrate technology into learning activities instead of just at the end of the unit for projects, the classroom becomes more student-centered…Everybody works together including library media specialists, special education teachers, instructional coaches, technicians, principals, curriculum liaisons, and tech integration specialists.” – Andrea Fox, WFPS
“It’s a way for students to learn new tools that give them the ability to set themselves apart from others using the same tool.” – Jerry Schneider, FPS
“Pear Deck has allowed me to remember her student audience. Plus, the ability to add in activities has helped enable to me check for understanding and allow for student opinions throughout the presentation” – Darcy Bakkegard, Prairie Public
SHARE your Story with Us!
This article is part of a larger article series focused on Digital Skills for 21st Century teachers discovered through an Infographic from EducatorsTechnology.com. Below is the schedule of digital skills that will be addressed each month. If you, or someone you know, is using technology effectively to engage in any of these skills, we want to connect with you and share your story! Email me at Chris.Thompson@k12.nd.us with the subject line “Digital Skills” and I will reach out and discuss how we can incorporate your learnings, best practices, tips and/or tricks into a future article!
- March: Create infographics and posters
- April: Create digital portfolios
- May: Create Professional Learning Networks, connect, discover new content, and grow professionally.
Links to resources mentioned in article:
Microsoft Sway: https://sway.com/my
Office Mix: https://mix.office.com/en-us/Home
Adobe Spark: https://spark.adobe.com/home/
Google Sites: https://sites.google.com/
Pear Deck: https://www.peardeck.com/