Sunday, February 27, 2011

Interactive online presentation tools

One of the things that always bothers me about presentation software, whether it be webware or computer specific is the lack of interactivity. The new read/write web demands interactivity that is not produced as part of the standard presentation. When we stand in front of an audience we are questioned and, if we are doing things well a conversation develops. Outside of a webinar there is no interaction between internet audience and ourselves, and that ends when you disconnect. My classroom has an interactive white board but once the students leave the room its difficult to replicate the whiteboard online in a way that continues to guide student learning without supervision. Looking around online I found three things that continue to make guided learning possible.

Online note boards such as   provide a good service for students to post conversation points. If you are careful you can craft a lesson through the board by providing resources as well.

Stick boards provide interactivity but when you make them public information can be accidentally erased or can be covered if the board gets to full.

The second site a found that has worked extremely well is Wix is a free website service (with a premium upgrade if you need additional tools) that  enables anyone to build custom websites through a drag and drop interface.  I created the site below in order to give students resources for historic fiction blogs they were writing.  (They had to pretend to be involved in some aspect of the war and they had to post a letter they were writing.)  It does take some time to explore and learn how to use the enormous toolkit that Wix provides but you can embed the pages where you want them (anywhere that will except embed or iframe code.) Any changes you make in your console through the Wix website, because its all contained online much like Prezi or Sliderocket will show up the next time a user loads the page.

The ability to turn the pages and control the information in a compact setting gave it an interactivity that students appreciate.

Last but not least the classic Wiki is a great way to interact with learners.  In the days just after the democratization of North Africa began, I knew I wanted to share what was going on with my students and then bring that back into class. I opened up a wiki and asked them, and anyone to who wanted, to post content that we could discuss in class.  Wikis are wonderful in that a group can build a presentation together.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


There are a lot of ways to keep track of your bookmarks on the web these days. Most of them store your links online as a long searchable list. It great to be able to access them from different computers and to share them with friends and coworkers, or to connect and collaborate with people all over the world. But its still just a big list. Pearl trees has developed something different.


A word of caution:
Like any social media Pearl Trees is a great way to connect with people.  If you plan to use it to leave visual bread crumbs for students be careful to monitor your connections as you cannot control which sites other users set as links.

Education Resources

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Scrollwheel

We have patience for everyone who is learning to become a more effective presenter and for those who are learning at new things because they love to learn. But from time to time we all experience this.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Not Sure Where to Present a Big Idea? Try the Hallway, All of it.

January 27 was International Holocaust Memorial Day.  Rather than stand up in class an talk, I wanted to do something different with my students.  I wanted them to get an idea of the magnitude of 6 million people.  Looking online I found the Yad Vasham Shoah database but quickly realized that even presenting it on the IWB in our classroom wouldn't reveal the enormity of this partial list of victims. The 166 page list of adults and children ranging from 1 to 78 years old contains over 2000 names.  My classes and I figured it mathematically to be .03% of the total.   What caught there attention the most was that the list as we presented it stretched the entire length of our wing of the building.  As my students walked quietly down the hall I asked them to look for the youngest and the oldest to compare the number of adults to children and to determine why we have so much detailed information.  When we returned to class we were able to have a discussion of  the magnitude of the Holocaust that was appropriate to the meaning of the day.

By way of parallel instruction the Language Arts classes began reading the "Diary of Anne Frank" on the same day.  (Yes we planned this.  The heavy emphasis on Language Arts and the absence of a state test for Social Studies in our grade has given us the room to switch the history classes to a thematic platform to more easily connect the two classes.) The students will present differentiated individual projects in LA based on Anne Frank and group projects on the Second World War in Social Studies.  The student produced projects range from image based PowerPoint presentations to Common Craft style videos. Instructions for Common Craft in the classroom can be found at Blogush. At the end of the unit all of the students post a historic fiction piece on our class blog as if they had lived through some part of  WWII whether it was the Homefront, Europe, or the Pacific.