Tag Archives: interactive

Step Away from the Slide Show

In my experience, there are two kinds of slide shows: the TED Talk kind and the Oh-My-Gosh-How-Much-Longer-Can-This-Go-On-And-Why-Are-They-Reading-Every-Single-Word-To-Me kind.

Elementary students tend to do the latter.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are situations when slide shows are appropriate – but Genius Hour presentations generally don’t fall into that category.  In a matter of 20 minutes, a presenter can easily take a topic that he or she was insanely passionate about and reduce it to the least interesting subject ever in the history of time.

So, a couple of years ago, I started to really encourage my students to make their presentations more interactive and to branch out from slide shows.  By displaying the “101 Ways to Show What You Know” options and brainstorming other possibilities, we have ended up with a much more diverse program of final projects.   You can see some examples from last year’s batch here. (Two more sites you can use to generate presentation ideas are 200 Ways to Show What You Know and The Differentiator.)

It’s that time of year again, and my students are once again finishing up their research and beginning to present each week.  Last week, one of my students presented about breast cancer.  He barely spoke to the class at all – except to give them instructions for accessing a game he had programmed using the Hopscotch app.  Through the game, the students learned about the symptoms of breast cancer and side effects of treatments.  Then they were able to try to apply their learning by answering questions. (If you want to check out the game in the Hopscotch public project gallery, it is called, “Breast Cancer,” by Understanding Taffy. You may be surprised to see that there are several Hopscotch games about breast cancer.)

There was a bit of confusion about some of the directions, but his classmates were much more engaged than if the student had tried to approach this subject with a slide show of somber facts.

The presentation wasn’t perfect.  It could have used more “earth-shaking” revelations that were new to the students, and the presenter forgot to cite his sources.  But there is no doubt in my mind that this student spent his Genius Hour time productively and the class will remember more from his project than if he had chosen a less interactive way to present it.

If you are going to require your class to endure a number of student monologues, I recommend you give them some alternatives that will be less snore-inducing than the typical slide show.  It’s a win-win for you and the students.  And the rest of the school benefits, too. The custodians will discover that rarely-used bathrooms stay cleaner and have less toilet clogs.  The admin will marvel at all of the extra time they have gained to do their jobs instead of dealing with a revolving door of discipline referrals. Even the nurse will thank you for the reduction in headaches and other mysterious illnesses that seem to materialize during boring classroom lectures.

For more Genius Hour resources, check out this page.

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Crystal Fireworks

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I am sharing a great creation by teamLab.  I saw an article about this on The Creators Project, and it really makes me want to go to Japan to participate in this interactive installation in Toyama.  With a touch of your finger on your smart phone, you can ignite simulated fireworks!  Head over to this site to see some amazing video and pics.

image of Crystal Fireworks by teamLab
image of Crystal Fireworks by teamLab

TouchCast

Screen Shot from Professor How's TouchCast
Screen Shot from Professor How’s TouchCast.  The video is in the corner of the web site page they are referencing.

TouchCast is a new, revolutionary iTunes app that has huge potential for the classroom and beyond.  It allows you to create interactive videos.

I’m not talking about the kind of videos you see on YouTube that have links that lead you to other sites or videos, though you could certainly do that with TouchCast.

I am talking about videos that include live, interactive versions of sites, Twitter feeds, polls, tickers, etc…

L.I.V.E!

So, let’s say I include my Twitter feed in my video.  When you watch the video on my TouchCast channel, you will see my Twitter feed – but not what was on the feed when I recorded the video.  You will see the exact feed that is available at the moment you are watching the video.

You might be thinking, “How is that helpful in an educational setting?” – especially if you don’t use Twitter.

But imagine placing a poll on your video about recycling, and asking what students think they can do to make the biggest positive environmental impact.  Or, adding the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s web page featuring the painting, “Cypresses” to your video about Van Gogh?

You can add all of these interactive functions using TouchCast‘s vApps – and they plan to add more.

TouchCast's vApp Screen
TouchCast’s vApp Screen

In addition, the recorder includes a green screen option.  I have been looking for a free one to use on the iPad, and now my wish has been granted!  You can see the fun use of the green screen as well as some of the vApps, in this video by “Professor How.”

I’ve been talking how teachers can use TouchCast – but think about how motivating this will be for students working on presentations!  This will definitely help to make their projects much more dynamic.  For Genius Hour, or any time students get the chance to share what they have learned, TouchCast could add so much more.  

Some caveats:  TouchCasts really need to be storyboarded ahead of time if you plan to use the vApps.  TouchCasts can be exported to YouTube, but they will lose their “interactive” ability if they are not viewed within the app or on the TouchCast site.  Also, at this time, you cannot import a video creation into a TouchCast (if, for example, you are like me – and prefer to use something like Tellagami‘s fabulous animation app to share your message instead of your own face and voice) – but I did receive an e-mail from their Customer Support that they are looking into adding this feature.  Last caveat – as with all apps, this may perform differently in your classroom than it does at home, due to district site-blocking.

For more about TouchCast – and a great presentation on Aurasma – check out this post from Thrasymakos!

Triptico (Reblog)

For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around.

Triptico is one of the most user-friendly teacher tools I’ve come across in a long time.  Designed by a teacher named David Riley to use with interactive whiteboards, this is free software that you download to your computer. Don’t despair if you don’t have an IWB, however.  If you can project your computer to a screen in the classroom, the activities (over 20, and the teacher plans to add more) can still be utilized.  Included in the package are random name generators, timers, text and photo spinners, word magnets with graphic organizers, and several games.  One intriguing game is “What’s in the Box?”, and eerily reminds me of the game show “Deal or No Deal”.  The interface is very simple, and the download takes less than a minute. I guarantee you will capture your students’attention – or your money back!

Interactive Bulletin Board Update

When I wrote about the Interactive Bulletin Board my class posted in our hallway utilizing artwork, poetry, and QR codes, I promised an update on the results.  The final article, with a few more details, appeared as a guest post on Free Technology for Teachers, hosted by Richard Byrne.  You can check it out by clicking this link.  Richard Byrne’s blog is one of my favorite resources, so I am really excited that he allowed me to share this idea with a wider audience.  Thanks, Mr. Byrne!