Alternatives to PowerPoint: Web-Based Presentation Slide Programs

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I used to teach Grade 8 English for 90 students. That meant whenever there were class presentations....I watched 90 of them. Thus, one would understand why I absolutely refused to let my students create boring, unengaging presentations using static, simple technology.

I didn’t restrict what software my students could use, rather I restricted what they couldn’t use by banning PowerPoint.
However, I learned as a teacher to be sure to direct students to programs that fit the criteria of the assignment. Since my oral presentation had to include a live speaking portion, students who chose the PowToons option were left starting and stopping their video. You can imagine how NOT smooth my nervous 13 year old students were in doing this in front of an audience of their peers.
When providing options for students to create a presentation, it makes sense to me to seperate technology by presentation slides and presentation videos. 
See my review of various technology to create slides (could also be used as a student resource):
See the slides here.
To create short videos or animations to accompany presentations, see my Pinterest board of Video Creation Resources:
Follow Cris's board Video Creation Resources on Pinterest.

Flipping the Classroom: Don't Re-Invent the Wheel, Find Pre-Made Video Resources Online

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There has been a lot of talk lately around the theory of ‘flipping the classroom’. Essentially, students preview lesson material and lectures at home to make time to do more hands-on, collaborative activities in class. 
Watch the following short video or view this infographic for more details.
Source: Center for Teaching and Learning
However, what teacher has the time to create a high quality video for each lesson?

Allow me to be so bold as to say: no teacher.  Though I have seen success from teachers who simply record themselves teaching a lesson at the front of the class or from an aerial view then posting it in a place students can access such as on YouTube or school LMS. This simple act allows the student to pause or rewind any confusing parts of a lesson which promotes self-regulation in the learner. Further, I have also seen success from teachers who record their screens during a lesson using tools such as EduCreations or the recording feature on SmartBoards. What’s great about this format is the accompanying online learning community of educators who have posted their own lessons to share. You could further check out places such as OpenEd or Share My Lesson for lesson sharing in a video format.  Flipping the classroom has many benefits: instead of students listening to a transmissive, passive lecture, teachers can utilize the collaborative environment of the classroom by guiding cooperative and exploratory tasks. It also frees up the teacher’s time to provide personalized instant feedback to students and differentiate instruction by pulling small groups of learners to work with.  However, there are many problems to the flipped classroom as well. What if the students don’t do their homework? What if there were technology issues? What if every subject teacher expected a student to learn lesson content the night before (how many hours of homework is that??) The more prominent downfall I spotted in my sideline analysis of the flipped classroom is that student grew tired of the format. Making an educational video entertaining is a hard feat! Creating even a simple animation or instructional video to accompany or substitute a face-to-face lesson takes much effort and time on the teacher's part.  What I realized is that I did not have to create the video myself - what it came down to is finding the best resource to fit my teaching needs. Why re-invent the wheel? Luckily there are many free educational video resources available online. 

Follow Cris's board Video Resources for Lessons on Pinterest.

I’ve also learned when it comes to the flipped classroom, as with anything, it works best in moderation. I appreciate many educational benefits to ‘flipping the classroom’. But I also am going to teach a lesson in the format which I feel worked best for the topic and my learning goals.  For instance, I chose to flip a lesson during a speeches unit I taught. In this lesson, I had students view Martin Luther King Jr.’s infamous “I Have a Dream” speech at home, identifying literary devices and observing the vocal skills used in the speech. By flipping the lesson, students could view the video as many times as they liked. For the in-class lesson, we discussed the answers in groups and as a class before viewing another video which deconstructs the speech.  I used the extraordinarily user-friendly site Ted Ed Lessons to create this lesson, along with embedded instructions, formative assessment , and discussion forum. 

The website sends the lesson creator a link to view what students have started the lesson and to review progress. Other teachers can also customize the lesson to suit their needs.
See the Ted Ed Video Lesson here See the Full Lesson Plan here
See the Unit Plan here 

Reaching the Visual Learner: Software to Create Digital Posters or Infographics

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Ever find yourself drawing incomprehensible doodles as you attempt to explain an idea to a student? I do all the time.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am a visual learner. I see this come out in my teaching, as I break down complicated ideas for my students in the same way I did to make sense of it for myself. Taking large amounts of text and synthesizing those ideas to create an aesthetically pleasing, symbol-saturated visual representation is something I truly enjoy doing. 

See my Pinterest board for resources to make digital posters or infographics as well as editing programs for photo manipulation:
Follow Cris's board Digital Posters/Infographics on Pinterest.