It took the better part of a school year, but now your classroom is moving along smoothly. Your class is familiar with your teaching style, you have learned the quirks of individual personalities, you and your students have mastered all of the “new” technologies and materials from the beginning of the year, and everyone is looking forward to the end of another successful year.
It doesn’t make sense to implement changes this late in the year, or does it? Perhaps this is the best time of the year to try a new technology tool in your classroom. You and your students have built a climate of trust; both of you realize that making mistakes leads to learning; and if your end of year testing is complete, this is an excellent time to take some risk without jeopardizing achievement scores.
TeachersFirst Edge is the place to find all of the latest FREE technology tools, making it a perfect starting point for researching the latest and greatest web content. The Edge contains over 1,200 reviews of web tools that “create something.” Sometimes it is as simple as a to-do list on up to more complex sites for making web apps or coding games. The Edge is broken down into categories making it easy to find tools for specific needs. One of the largest groups is presentations, featuring a large assortment of tools to use with any classroom presentation.
Perhaps the most common resource used for presentations is PowerPoint. PowerPoint has been around for a very long time, in fact, it’s original release date was 1987! Continuous updates and add-ons keep it relevant and useful, and it is easy to use for even very young students. However, many options now provide more dynamic content for sharing presentations.
Here are four presentation tools to consider trying:
- Continue using PowerPoint, but add on Office Mix. Mix allows users to add polls, videos, recordings, and more directly into PowerPoints. Take advantage of the many tutorials on the Office Mix site to try something new each week! For an excellent overview of how to get started, check out the resources from our recent OK2Ask webinar introducing the features of Mix. You can view an archive of this session from the Home Page of this resource site.
- Presentious is another tool for creating dynamic presentations. Upload from PowerPoint and other programs, then add your recording to accompany each slide. Add recordings to individual slides, making it easier to prepare a more polished presentation. Once shared, viewers can view the entire presentation or browse through slides.
- Powtoon is a video alternative to PowerPoint. Powtoon includes a storyboard component making it easy to plan out presentations with just a few clicks. Your students will intuitively know how to create and work with Powtoon, but if you need additional information, this site includes an excellent library of tutorials.
- Similar to PowerPoint, but arguably more powerful, is Google Slides. Slide users work together with the same version providing a consistent experience for all. Slides also makes it easy to access presentations from Google Drive on any device.
This excellent article spells out many good reasons for using presentation software in the classroom, and also offers suggestions for presentations in literacy and numeracy. You may also want to check out the ideas for assessment and use with special needs students. One big takeaway from this article is that using presentation tools in our classroom provides our students flexibility in sharing their learning through individual styles.
Making changes or using new programs may cause confusion and difficulties for both you and your students. These tips from TeachersFirst Edge provide some practical suggestions for using technology in the classroom. My favorites to remember are:
- Use your geeks to find pitfalls. You know your tech-savvy kids; use them to your advantage to learn new software and share with you and other students.
- Tell others about your work with new tools. Your experience will be invaluable in providing a first-hand experience with what works and what was not successful as you and your peers consider resources to use in the future.
- Build on your initial experience with a technology tool by doing more projects with the same tool. Incorporate new features a little at a time as everyone becomes comfortable.
Take advantage of the positive classroom community that you have built throughout the year, and try something new. You and your students will enjoy learning together, and you will have a new tool for use next year! We would love to hear from you with your experience in trying something new in the comments below.