19 Things for Hamden Hall

Week 4: Presentations

Posted on: May 11, 2011

OK fine, last week was a doozy. This week will be better! Only four things this week (pick two), and they’re, let’s just say, a little more fun to play around with. Week 4 is about presentations. Presentations are a staple of any classroom, and we all know the traditional ways for students to present materials: posters, oral reports, PowerPoint slide shows. But what if you want your students to explore new ways of presenting their work? Check out the following four tools.


Glogster
Voicethread
Voki
Podcasting

Thing 11: Glogster

What is it?

Glogster is an online tool that allows you to make digital posters, which can include images, movies, audio, text, links, and drawings. Students and teachers can comment on each others Glogs, sort of like a blog – in fact, the name “glog” comes from combining the words “graphical” and “blog.”

Watch this 2-minute video on Glogster EDU.

How can I use it?

Check out the Glogpedia, a collection of the site’s best educational glogs. Here are a few examples you might find interesting:

There are many lesson plans and rubrics to be found online for use with Glogster. Here are a few examples:

Try it out!

  • Sign up for a basic teacher account on Glogster
  • Once you’re registered, click the pink “CREATE NEW GLOG” button and start playing around!

Thing 12: Voicethread

What is it?

Voicethread allows users to create digital slideshows of images and record their voices over the images.

Watch this Voicethread slideshow about how Voicethread works for schools.

How can I use it?

Browse the Voicethread 4 Education Wiki to get ideas for how to use Voicethread with your grade level.

Here are some examples of Voicethread projects (credit).

And here are some rubrics:

Finally, here is a comprehensive guide to using Voicethread in the classroom. Warning: this is a lot of information, so only click if you’re feeling pretty comfortable with Voicethread!

Try it out!

It’s hard to try out Voicethread without a microphone, so spend some time browsing the site’s most popular Voicethreads of the month. If you want to try commenting, this 3rd grade teacher has left her students’ poetry Voicethread open to the public, so you can comment on any slide either by recording your voice or typing your comment.

Thing 13: Voki

What is it?

Voki allows users to create “avatars,” or drawn representations of people, and make them speak any words they want. Students can also record their own voices for the avatars to speak, too.

Here’s a Voki I made that shows you what a Voki is all about!

Check out Voki’s Frequently Asked Questions for basic information about Voki.

How can I use it?

Voki does a great job of supporting teachers. They have a whole section devoted just to lesson plans. You can browse them by subject and grade level. Here are a few that you might find interesting:

And here’s some good examples of Vokis made by students:

Try it out!

Register for a free account on Voki. Then click on the “create” button to play around with Voki!

Thing 14: Podcasting

What is it?

Podcasts are audio files that student create about different topics. Those files can then be played on a computer or an mp3 player. Watch this short video on Podcasting in Plain English.

At Hamden Hall, we have a program called Audacity on our computers that allows our students to easily create podcasts. Apple computers come loaded with a program called Garage Band.

How can I use it?

Listen to some sample school podcasts. See the names of the schools on the left-hand side; click the name of the school to get their podcasts.

Here is a huge collection of podcasting lesson plans. Some interesting ones:

And here are some rubrics (source):

And if you’re interested in having your students listen to podcasts, here is a great list of 80 Excellent Podcasts for Every Kind of Classroom.


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14 Responses to "Week 4: Presentations"

Sarah –

One again lots of great ideas. My 8th graders made Glogs of French singers which turned out beautifully. They are on the bulletin board across from my classroom. My 9th graders used VoiceThread to present the poem they had memorized. They were lovely.
I think Voki could be a lot of fun. We learned animal vocabulary. so Voki would be a cool Friday project. The students could have their animals discuss living on a farm versus living in the city which would reinforce new vocabulary.

Deb

I think Voki would be perfect for a language classroom. The farm animals would be funny and so great! You could also have people speaking about different aspects of their daily lives…anything, really. It is an easy tool to introduce and use. Your class is doing some awesome stuff!

The our tools highlighted here are essentially tools for updating the presentation and communication of ideas. I think it’s very important to remember that they are tools and are only valuable when they enhance the lesson or the communication skills of the presenter. I fear that as our students have access to more and more “bells and whistles,” they become less and less comfortable with the fundamental tool of written and spoken language.

TAs I turned my my attention to this week’s lessons, I was already familiar with Voicethread, Glogster, and Podcasts. But, after looking over Voki, which I had not heard of before, I took a second look at all four of the tools to see how and why people are using them. I have not had students produce a Podcast, but I have used them in my classes. When I find a really good podcast, I’ll share it with the kids. There are many out there that are great for students. My personal favorite is “Grammar Girl”, though “Things You Didn’t Learn in History Class” and “Stuff you Should Know” are on my top ten list as well. When I played Grammar Girl’s podcast on the semi-colon, I printed out the show notes so the students could follow along with the examples.

As far as utilizing Voki or Glogster, I don’t think I would for my upper schoolers. There are some students who might enjoy using Glogster to organize and consolidate ideas, but our focus for the most part has to be to push them to do that in the form of persuasive writing. Perhaps it would be appropriate as a review assignment (preparing for exams?) or an extra credit exercise. It could be helpful for consolidating information.

Although we may all be wowed and enthralled by all the digital bells and whistles we have readily available, we must remember to use them as tools to enhance verbal expression, analysis, and creative thinking. Being “fun” isn’t enough to make it worthwhile. Of course, our students must be prepared to go out into the world and use technology, as must we all. But, I am personally very confident that this generation of young people will be more than competent to use, learn, and manipulate all sorts of technology tools. Most of them already are! Indeed, they are truly fearless when it comes to trying and mastering these resources. But, I am truly concerned that they will not be able to communicate clearly with the written and spoken word.

I totally agree with a lot of what you’re saying – the tools must enhance what is already happening in the classroom. Without the content, the tools are meaningless in a learning environment. That said, I do think the “bells and whistles” of some of these tools make it sometimes appear as though the content is being sacrificed for the wrapper it’s in. The 7th grade history classes recently used Glogster for a project on the events of 1968, and a huge amount of research, critical thinking, analysis, and synthesizing of ideas went into the final project. The students had to find audio, visual, and textual evidence to support their arguments. That would not be possible in a traditional paper. I don’t think we should discount tools that look like they are more “fun” than writing – I think if you spoke to many of those 7th graders, they would not have called Glogster fun… because it was a LOT of work. In the end, they may have enjoyed using a new medium for the project, but it certainly was not easy.

I also think that as teachers we sometimes run the risk of assuming that students always know how to use a digital tool. It’s true that they’re fearless, but they are often uncomfortable using something new that is not a traditional homework assignment or project. I have seen this a lot: students know what is expected of them when writing a paper, but not always when creating something multi-faceted. As you allude to, we should be preparing them to express themselves in different ways and approach new challenges with the right mindset.

I wholeheartedly believe in the value of teaching writing and speaking. I love to write and do it both professionally and personally, and I would not be able to succeed in either forum were it not for the wonderful teachers I had throughout my life. It would be a shame if we were not preparing our students to write and speak eloquently. It’s my opinion that using nontraditional tools enhances their ability to communicate. But I’m aware that not everyone thinks so, and when using these tools, one certainly has to introduce and implement them in a thoughtful way. Not everyone does that, which is why we do have some reason for concern… but I think the positive experiences outweigh the negative.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and for making me think, too!

Stephanie,
I agree that we should not use a new technology just because it is “fun;” however, if something like Voicethread or Glogster allows kids to express their understanding in a manner that requires them to master and synthesize material and then communicate clearly – and along the way they have fun and develop a passion for the subject, that’s a good thing. I think part of our mission as teachers is to encourage a love of learning. Using a variety of approaches raises the odds that a teacher will be able to engage every student at some point in a course.

I certainly agree with this sentiment!

Loved the voice thread presentation especially Doodling.

I’m glad you like it! I wonder if we could have the students explain different math functions using it…

I like glogster. I was interested in the animal glogs, especially since we study African animals. Always looking for different ways to present information, and this is great!

That could be really fun! Thank you for exploring — let’s talk about using it.

Would like to learn how to use Glogster. I see many ways this tool could be used, especially Social Studies.

Not sure that I would use Podcast.

I love the glogster. This would be perfect for the animal adaptation posters that the fourth grade does. It could be done as a glog first and then on a poster. Thanks Sarah. I will be sure to follow up next fall. Please remind me 🙂

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