K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools

Presenting with Canva

I’ll be honest. I was doing fine with Google Slides. Sometimes I created my slides in Canva first because I liked the design options, but I would then just download the slides as PowerPoint and re-upload them to my Google Drive to convert them to Google Slides when it was time to present.


In case you haven’t noticed, I like to learn new “stuff” and try it out — and I am learning a lot of new stuff you can do with Canva now that I’ve followed a few content creators on TikTok. I subscribe to the Pro version of Canva because I can use it for so many things with my business, but teachers can use that version for free. So, I thought I would share a few reasons you might want to try presenting with Canva in case you want to give it a whirl.

First of all, you can either create a presentation in Canva, or import one from Google Slides or PowerPoint. If you are doing one of the last two, go to your Projects page, click the + sign on the top right and either upload a saved PowerPoint or go to “Import from app” and choose Google Drive.

Click on the presentation, and edit it however you like. When you are ready to present, click on the Present button in the top right corner. As you can see in the short video below, you will have some options on the lower right part of the screen. You can use the pointer, or hide it. You can also start a live Q&A, which basically opens a chat window next to your presentation (love this for presenting to adults, not so sure it would be practical with K-12 students). You can hide or end the chat whenever you like.

But the really fun/practical feature that I think teachers will like are the magic keyboard shortcuts. When you click on the keyboard icon on the bottom right, you will see a list of options that you can activate during your presentation at any time just by hitting a key. For example, if I want participants to think and discuss a slide for 5 minutes, I can just hit “5” on my keyboard and a timer appears. Hit “X” and it disappears. A student says something outstanding, and I can tap “M” for a Mic Drop or “C” for Confetti. There’s more (including a Spider and a Ghost — not sure if these are just during the month of October or year-round).

Another cool option is that you can click on the 3 dots on the bottom right, and get the option to “Share Remote Control.” You can give the link to anyone. I sent it to my own phone, and my phone became a presentation remote. This is a great option for teachers who don’t have a remote, and want to walk around the classroom as they present.

I won’t always be using Canva to present, but I love having another option that has some unique features, and it’s fun to sprinkle a little novelty into the school day. Thanks to the NEISD Elementary GT Teachers who were patient when I tried my first Canva presentation out with them over Zoom!

Games, Student Response, Teaching Tools, Universal Design for Learning

5 SMART Ways to Engage Your Students with Lumio

5 SMART Ways to Engage Your Students with Lumio

By Terri Eichholz

This post is sponsored by Lumio. All opinions are my own.

One lesson my students learned when presenting their Genius Hour projects was that getting their audience involved in some way improved their interest in what was being taught. The experience also helped the students to understand that planning for that interactivity takes more thought than just reading from bullet points on a slide, so many of them developed an appreciation for the efforts teachers make who go above and beyond a standard lecture. After all, the students were spending the equivalent of 6-12 hours preparing each of their presentations, and that time commitment isn’t very practical for full-time teachers.

What if teachers have help, though? This is an area where educational technology can be transformative, but piecing together products from different companies to pull together an engaging lesson is time-consuming, too – unless you make the choice to use Lumio. With Lumio, students can brainstorm, play games, use a collaborative whiteboard, practice lessons, and get assessed – all in one tool. And the best part is that you can deliver a Lumio lesson with as little or as much preparation as you would like.

A product from SMART Technologies that requires student devices without the necessity of an interactive display, Lumio is free for educators and amazingly easy to use. Its simplicity is almost deceptive when you begin to realize all of the ways you can use it. Like a few other ed tech products you may have seen or used, Lumio lessons consist of slides you present to students either as a teacher-led activity or student-paced. You can import slides from other software, such as PowerPoint, use your existing SMART Notebook files, or create something from scratch. If you choose to integrate Lumio with your Google Drive, you can directly import content from there. Even PDF’s can be directly added to the lesson. There is also a growing library of resources you can choose from, so you can duplicate or customize to your needs. This may sound familiar, but as you begin to customize a lesson, you will discover how Lumio separates itself from the pack. Here are some of the ways you can use it to engage your students.

1. Maybe your students enjoy playing online quizzes, but you’ve noticed that their enthusiasm begins to fizzle when you use the same format and platform every time. This is not an issue with Lumio. There are twelve Game-Based Activity templates to choose from, with multiple themes for each activity. Game Show and Monster Quiz are two popular ones that are sure to generate some smiles with their entertaining graphics, but you shouldn’t limit yourself to those. The Rank-Order tool has the potential to generate some insightful classroom discussions, and the Word Search activity can give the illusion of “just having fun” while secretly promoting some higher order thinking skills.

2. Another way to keep your students involved in their learning is that you can present slides as a digital handout (to be worked on individually), a group workspace (where Lumio will automatically create groups of students to collaborate), or a whole class activity. And you can change this “on the fly” as you present with two clicks. This flexibility gives you the power to get a sense for what might work best and make last-minute decisions.

Convert pages in your lesson while editing or presenting with Lumio

3. As we know from Universal Design for Learning, engaging a class of students with different abilities means accommodating for as many of those differences as you can within your lesson design. With Lumio, you can add audio to your slides so your students can hear instructions, or you can turn on the Immersive Reader tool for them.

Embed accommodations for different ability levels

4. Whether you are doing a Design Thinking project and want students to generate ideas, or just want to find out what they already know about a topic, you can use the “Shout it Out” Activity. A couple of neat tweaks that you can make to this are that you can quickly turn on/off names to show on the screen as students contribute and you can also determine the maximum number of responses from each student. 

Add a “Shout it Out” activity for brainstorming

5. You can’t keep your class engaged if the material is too repetitive or too complicated. Formative assessments with Lumio give you the information you need to pivot if necessary. At the beginning, middle, or end of your lesson, pop in the teacher-led Response tool to get real-time feedback without skipping a beat. 

Activate prior knowledge, find out what’s puzzling your students, or design an Exit Ticket with Lumio’s Response tool

As you can see, Lumio combines all of the best features of other digital learning tools in one package, as well as adding quite a few extras that you won’t find anywhere else. Combined with the fact that it’s free, super user-friendly, and offers lots of opportunities to motivate and engage students, can you think of any reason not to click on this link and sign up right now? 

Books, Critical Thinking, K-12, Student Response

The Story Routine: Main–Side–Hidden

Last month I had the honor of working with our local NEISD librarians during a PD on one of the newer Visible Thinking Routines, “The Story Routine: Main–Side–Hidden.” Visible Thinking Routines appear frequently on my blog because I really believe in the way they help teachers to facilitate rich discussions among their students. These routines, compiled by Harvard’s Project Zero research team, are detailed in two books (see image links) and on several websites, including this one.

“The Story Routine” appears in the most recent book, The Power of Making Thinking Visible, by Ron Ritchart and Mark Church. The purpose of the routine is to analyze events, photos, stories, documents, etc… by constructing a story beyond the obvious. The routine can be applied to fiction, non-fiction, data in math, primary sources in history, and many other situations. There is even an example in the book where a counselor uses the routine with a young boy who is having trouble at home.

“The Story Routine” may have different prompts depending on the context. Some examples are:

  • “What is the main message of this story?” (What does the author want you to think?)
  • “What is a side message of this story?” (Maybe something not as important, but still something the author wants to get across)
  • “What is a hidden theme in this story?” (Maybe something that contributes to the theme but is never actually mentioned)
  • “What is the main message of this graph?” (What information does the graph give you?”)
  • “What is a side message of this graph?” (Maybe how does this graph fit into a larger context?”)
  • “What is a hidden message in this graph? (Maybe what are some unspoken contributing factors that could have skewed or contributed to the graph’s meaning?)

There are endless possibilities, and you can adapt it to different ages, abilities, and topics. The point is that you want students to make inferences, look at things from other perspectives, and apply a systems thinking outlook that acknowledges that nothing exists in a vacuum. Peer discussions are critical and it is also essential to accept multiple answers as long as students can support them. For those of you who use Socratic Dialogues in your classrooms, this routine would work very well. Otherwise, whole class and small group conversations can be used.

I made a few different digital templates for the PD that I did, and I thought I would share one with you here. You could certainly use it for other things besides this Visible Thinking Routine, but I designed it as a Google Slides presentation that could be used in groups in your classroom and then presented to the whole class with the fun interactivity of using a magnifying glass at the end to display the “hidden” message.

It’s impossible to explain the routine in depth in a short blog post, so I encourage you to read the unit in the book. If that isn’t feasible, Alice Vigors does a good job of offering examples here, and, of course I’d be happy to do a PD for your district or group on it;) I’ve also started a new Wakelet collection where you can find my other Visible Thinking blog posts, many of which have downloadable templates.

3-12, Creative Thinking, Language Arts, Student Response, Teaching Tools

Create Even More for Your Classroom with Canva

It has been awhile since I first posted about Canva, but I have been using it for years. Even though I also use Adobe Creative Cloud for many projects, Canva is just as much a part of my everyday creation. It has been satisfying to watch the company grow and provide more resources for teachers throughout its evolution. I thought it might be about time to do a roundup of some materials that I’ve been bookmarking to help out those of you who don’t have time or may not even be aware of the power of this tool.

One of Canva’s more recent upgrades is the ability to import data from a Google Sheet to make a chart. This tweet from Nikki Schermann (@NikkiSchermann) shows you how easy it is:

A favorite project that my 5th graders did for a few years was to use Canva to make a manifesto. This was paired with a Hyperdoc that I linked in the blog post, and the students even made t-shirts and plaques with their designs.

We also used Canva to make hexagonal reflections.

Katie from Midnight Music has several ideas for ways that students can use Canva, including making infographics. Speaking of infographics, another popular lesson that my students liked was when they created their own User Manuals.

Shake Up Learning just posted 30 ways to use Canva, Part 1 and Part 2.

Richard Byrne of FreeTech4Teachers recently published all 21 of his Canva video tutorials in one post.

Canva is one of many presentation tools I mentioned in this post, but did you know it also has a plethora of game presentations as well? Not all of them are classroom-friendly, but there are quite a few that you can use, including several Two Truths and a Lie game templates, Chess, and Guess this Picture.

Also, don’t forget the amazing Color Wheel tool, which I have bookmarked and use frequently to help me come up with color combinations.

Canva is completely free for educators and students. You can learn more about how to use and Edu account here. Whether you use for efficiency or creativity, it is definitely something you should have in your toolbox.

Student manifestion created with Canva

Creative Thinking, K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through Winter and Some New Jamboard Updates

I was excited to find that Google Jamboard updated last week, allowing people to upload our own backgrounds so we don’t have to worry about students accidentally moving our designs. I worked on re-designing one of my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. resources so I could offer it to you for use on Jamboard. S.C.A.M.P.E.R. is a creative thinking tool developed by Bob Eberle, and each letter stands for suggestions to spark innovation: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Put to Another Use, and Rearrange. I am working on revamping all of my S.C.A.M.P.E.R. materials, but currently have S.C.A.M.P.E.R. Through Winter available on Jamboard for you to copy and use.

I added some animated gifs from Giphy.com to create some more visual interest, but those are not part of the background so they can be deleted if you like. If you prefer, I also have the same prompts on a Google Slides presentation in case you want to make multiple copies of one prompt by downloading as a .png or .jpg. I slightly modified the prompts so that they are “holiday-neutral.” For some examples of some of the creative responses I’ve gotten from students in the past, you can look at this post and this one. I am adding this post to my Winter Holidays Wakelet, which has over 65 resources now. In addition, I will post the link on my Jamboard Wakelet, which is also gaining more resources every day.

One of my recent additions to the Jamboard Wakelet is a nice image of keyboard shortcuts to view a Version History in Jamboard. This image was tweeted by @MariaGalanis. Until yesterday, I had no idea it was possible to do this. Unfortunately, you cannot see who made changes on the Jamboard, as you can with other Google products, but being able to return to earlier versions when mistakes are made or you forgot to make a copy before students used it is extremely helpful.

Alice Keeler (@AliceKeeler) wrote a post about these shortcuts, suggestions for naming your original version history, and a sticky note short cut for Jamboard that she published today, so be sure to check that out for more good advice.

I hope everyone is having a great Monday, and this week, which will be the last for many before the Winter Break, is going smoothly!

Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, K-12, Student Response, Teaching Tools

Google Jamboard Templates and Ideas

I’ve recently seen a large uptick in visits to my Google Jamboard post, as well as people sharing Jamboard templates and ideas on social media. One person who is particularly creative and prolific in creating Jamboards is @GiftedTawk, and I’ve been curating as many as I can from her Twitter feed. Whether you are looking for graphic organizers to use with Jamboard (or Padlet, or even Slides) like these from @ergoEDU or mindbending creativity and logic challenges like this pentomino Jamboard from @GiftedTawk, you are sure to find something ready-made for your class in this list. There are also some tips on the list, such as how to embed a Jamboard in Seesaw, and how to “freeze” your background on Jamboard so it doesn’t get moved accidentally. A few Halloween Jamboards are in there, just in case you are looking for some last-minute activities for this week. (I’ve also put them in my “Halloween During a Pandemic” Wakelet.)

For a “live” updated list of Google Jamboard Templates and Ideas, click here. If you have any others that I should add to the list, let me know!